Squeezing the Last Drop of Productivity from the American Working Class – 18 Percent National Underemployment and why Wall Street and the Government are Cheering Your Financial Failure.

The American financial press cheered on Friday when “only” 36,000 jobs were lost in February.  This if you haven’t noticed now passes for good economic news.  The unemployment rate remained unchanged because the actual workforce continued to show a decline yet Wall Street somehow viewed this as positive developments.  And why not?  The middle class is under assault from every angle.  Things are so twisted with propaganda that many Americans now believe that the banking elite are actually looking out for the well being of American workers.  As news of the job losses somehow echoed as positive developments, more and more Americans are continually being kicked out of their homes from banks they helped to bail out.  Irony has no meaning to Wall Street.

And if we look at the details of the jobs report, it turns out that 17.9 percent of Americans are either unemployed or underemployed or flat out have stopped looking for work:

Source:  BLS

This wasn’t the only spin going on in the media.  Before the jobs report came out there was a preemptive flow of information trying to justify the job cuts by blaming it on the weather.  Yes, now instead of blaming the financial catastrophe on the actual perpetrators in Wall Street who systematically looted the American system and turned our economy into a giant casino that they leeched onto, we are now to believe people are losing their jobs because of the weather:

“(CNSnews) Ahead of Friday’s announcement, Goldman Sachs predicted that the storm might skew the job loss number by as much as 100,000 – a prediction that was embraced by officials in the Obama administration.

“The blizzards that affected much of the country during the last month are likely to distort the statistics,” Larry Summers, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said in an interview with CNBC. “So it’s going to be very important … to look past whatever the next figures are to gauge the underlying trends.”

If the storm caused a skewing of job loss numbers I wonder how many job losses can be linked to Goldman Sachs and their casino style gambling in the derivatives markets and mortgage backed securities?  Then again, people should be happy that the unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent even though more Americans are working part-time with no benefits and many others have simply fallen off the payrolls.  This is supposedly the new American dream for the middle class through the eyes of Wall Street who are selling capitalism but living in a world of corporate handout socialism.

There is a new show called Undercover Boss where a CEO goes undercover to work in the trenches with the proletariat.  As it turns out, the middle class is being worked to death and as we all know, the CEO can’t even do the job most workers do on a daily basis.  Even Henry Ford understood the interworking of the cars he was putting out.  In the end the CEO reveals his identity and gives a nice little handout to the worker and all is well in TV land.  The check is a token of what CEOs actually make.  This is the ultimate reflection of our trickle down economy where those at the top act like sociopaths and rulers of the universe but when it comes to doing the daily tasks of their company, they have no clue.  This is the de facto rule running on Wall Street.  In fact, CEO pay has grown outrageously over the past few decades as the middle class has gotten poorer:

Source:  American Progress

In reality, part-time employment has spread even to poor CEOs making 300 to 400 times the average American worker salary.  Poor CEOs and Wall Street executives need time off to enjoy their tax payer funded yachts and all expense hedonism trips to the Caribbean.  They would like to convince each other that the money they have is all through their will power and market prowess but in reality it is nothing more than being part of a corporatocracy and buying out the government with an army of lobbyist and insiders.  You have to be a self indulgent narcissist to take the economy to the brink of financial destruction in the case of many Wall Street firms and still reward yourself with outrageous bailouts.  The fact that average Americans are still not protesting in mass about this tells me that many actually believe what Wall Street is saying.  You see this when many would rather blame the working class for the ills of today than focus their energy where it really needs to go.

Wall Street loves this economic crisis.  They receive trillions in bailouts yet convince the public that what is occurring today is merely the “market” correcting itself.  So as most Americans have more and more troubles keeping up with their daily bills, companies are squeezing every little excess from those currently working.  Those that have jobs out of fear will work harder and probably demand less merit increases in the current economy.  After all, the head guy is only making 300 times what you make even though he can’t even understand the main function of the organization.  So what if the low level guy is selling toxic crap to some homeless person with no income and giving him access to a $500,000 loan.  These Wall Street tycoons are big picture thinkers and can’t be worried with the day to day operations of the proletariat unless it means turning it into a caricature for mass viewing and quick TIVO access.

You don’t think productivity actually increased?  Take a look at this:

Source:  BLS

This recession has been fantastic for productivity.  Just look at the above chart.  American workers have been doing their part during this recession.  After all, now you can hire a cadre of “contract” workers and not have to pay them one cent in healthcare support or even contribute to their pension.  Once the job is done you can kick them to the curb.  After all, this is capitalism so long as those at the top have managed to setup sweetheart deals and golden parachutes.  This is how the top 1 percent makes sure their hold on 40 percent of the nation’s wealth isn’t damaged.  And if you think financial institutions deserve this bailout money and their outrageous bonuses then companies like Circuit City or Mervyns would still be around today if that model applied across the board.  But this doesn’t apply to the general economy.  This applies to Wall Street and somehow the absurdity of it all still goes on.  The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and not one solid reform has been enacted.  26 months of job losses and nothing.  Who is running the show?

The rise of the part-time work force is nothing new as we become more and more like Japan.  Japan bailed out their financial institutions after their failed stock market and real estate bubbles popped and today, their working class is made up of one-third part-time workers:

“(LA Times) In the world’s second-largest economy, the global financial crisis has forced part-time workers such as Kudo to face a harsh new reality.

Over the last few years, temporary employees have gone from being a rarity in Japan to accounting for one-third of the workforce of 67 million. They enjoy far fewer protections than full-time workers — placing their necks squarely on the layoff chopping block.

By March, the government predicts, 85,000 part-timers will fall prey to haken-giri, or temporary-worker cutbacks — a relatively small number compared with U.S. layoffs but high for a nation where job security has long been a staple.

On Wednesday, embattled Prime Minister Taro Aso made the plight of part-timers a major piece of a proposed stimulus package. Aso pledged to create 1.6 million jobs, partly by turning part-time jobs into full-time ones.”

Japan’s headline unemployment rate is 4.9 percent.  Just like our headline unemployment rate, the devil is really in the details.  If we continue on this path part-time work may be all that is left.

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7 Comments on this post


  1. Matt said:
    March 7th, 2010 at 9:13 am
  2. Benjamin said:

    Hello! Great article. I would just like to say, that I don’t think what you describe is entirely attributable to Wall Street. Rather, it’s structural. I used to work at a factory where they spent a lot of money and doubled the shop floor area. This allowed them to increase production significantly, and also *lay off* workers, because the products could be more easily moved around the shop floor, which reduced bottlenecks and increased productivity.

    I don’t think this is unique to my former factory at all. What I wonder is, when it’s possible to produce more while also reducing employment, then where is the demand for the increased production supposed to come from? In other words, can traditional capitalism even function when it’s possible to produce a million tubes of toothpaste, for example, while only paying enough in salaries to buy 100,000 tubes of toothpaste? You see what I mean? It used to be that if you wanted to produce more, you had to hire more workers and pay more salaries, but I’m not sure that’s true anymore. SO as salaries become less important to producing wealth, where is the demand going to come from for that wealth? Wall Street can only buy so much toothpaste.

    March 7th, 2010 at 10:43 am
  3. Big M said:

    The problem is there isn’t enough money circulating. This is the same stunt that the banksters pulled back in the ’30s.

    What the states need to do is to establish their own banks, coin their own money, and cut the criminals in DC out of the loop. Since the CONstitution isn’t legally binding on anybody in the first place, and DC makes no pretense that it is, why should the states?

    March 7th, 2010 at 11:28 am
  4. Bobby said:

    Can anyone really feel sorry for the average American citizen? Didn’t we sleep, for fifty years as we(the greatest generation, the boomers, generation X,etc.) watch as our industries were exported, along with our jobs, as illegal alien foreign nationals marched in our streets, telling the American European descended poplulace to “go back to Europe,”, etc. as Wall Street created “junk bonds”, “equity funds”,(same thing as junk bonds) and literally played with American money as if was Monopoly money, as we became involved in foreign entanglements and bankrupting wars, against the advice of our founding fathers,etc.etc.etc.etc. Can anyone fell sorry for a populace that is and has been this ignorant? I think it’s an honest question.

    March 7th, 2010 at 3:58 pm
  5. IXLNXS said:

    Choir here.

    Beating a dead horse is fine, but when exatly are we going to pull out the torches and pitchforks?

    March 7th, 2010 at 8:39 pm
  6. Vic Anderson said:

    Brainstem media, again.

    March 9th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    The U.$. Federal Government and the criminal bankster gambler addicts in the Wall $treet casino are both cheering the failure of the common wealth because they are $ociopaths… because they have the prescience and the morals of rabid dogs.

    So I dare ask. For whom the bells toll? Eh?

    Give it some thought… Mr. Rich-Man! Beware! And this is especially pertinent to CEOs at Goldman $acks! A hungry man is a terrible thing to behold, but when he sees his children hungry, he becomes extremely dangerous. He becomes a guerrilla (i.e.: Joe Stacks and Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kazinsky, et.al). Yes! Indeed! Old Coyote Knose… it’s a lot easier to burn down a rich man’s mansion than it is to build that mansion.

    March 16th, 2010 at 1:10 am


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