One nation, underemployed

By Sally Kohn
October 7, 2011

By Sally Kohn
The opinions expressed are her own.

In our national desperation to create jobs, we’ve forgotten that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality.  For instance, Rick Perry boasts of creating jobs in Texas, but Texas is tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the nation.  According to the latest jobs numbers, the United States gained 58,000 jobs in September, with an additional 45,000 communication workers returning to work after a strike.   But as any busboy cleaning up after a Wall Street banker can tell you, not all jobs are created equal.

Of course, the 9.1% of unemployed Americans in our country would gladly take even the worst of jobs to put food on their tables.  But as recent Census data reveals, 46.2 million Americans lived in poverty in 2010 — many of whom have jobs, just not jobs that are good enough. In fact, for all American workers, the Census Bureau found that media household incomes (adjusted for inflation) declined by 2.3% in 2010 over the previous year — even as worker productivity and corporate profits rose.

America needs an economic recovery not just on paper but on principle — where the quality of life for workers rises as the quantity of jobs and our overall economy grows.  Which is why it’s deeply troubling that so many in our government are trying to undermine the quality of current jobs, let alone create more and better jobs for the future.

Union jobs = good jobs

There’s a reason the protesters at Occupy Wall Street are linking arms with unions.  Unions raise wages for all workers.  Studies have shown that a large unionized presence in a given industry raises wages for all workers in that field.  In draconian, anti-union “Right to Work” states, all workers make on average $5,438 less per year than workers in states that allow free bargaining.  Not to mention the fact that many benefits non-unionized workers now expect on the job — from health insurance to sick leave — were first established because unions fought for them and such benefits became the norm.

In the prosperous 1950s, nearly one-in-three American workers belonged to a union.  Today, thanks to attacks on union rights by big business conservatives, closer to one-in-ten workers is a union member. In the intervening decades, data show that as unionization rates have declined, so have middle class wages and income.

Some voters are put off by the political power of unions, understandable in a political system that is more controlled by special interests than ordinary citizens.  But unlike corporations that lobby Washington so they can make more money, unions are advocating for better jobs — to raise your quality of life, increase your pay and benefits and put more money in your pocket.  The conservative case against unions is entirely political.  From an economic perspective, unions are essential to creating good, middle class jobs.

Public sector jobs = good jobs

Big business conservatives have also increased their attack on government jobs and workers.  These critics claim that government is inefficient and wasteful and that the private sector can teach our kids, build our roads and administer our social services in a more cost-effective and competent manner.

But a recent study by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight found that, in 33 out of 35 areas, the government paid more to private contractors then it would have cost for the government to perform the work itself. What’s interesting is that, last year, the conservative Heritage Foundation released a study showing that public sector workers earn on average 22% more than their private sector counterparts, and public workers get more generous benefits packages as well. It turns out that privatizing public services is just a scam to dismantle good public sector jobs while taking your tax dollars and giving them to private companies that drive down wages and benefits for workers while driving up profits and CEO bonuses.

The recent college graduates, soldiers and single mothers protesting on Wall Street and across the country don’t just want crummy jobs — they want good jobs.  President Obama’s plan is a good start in the right direction — a plan that will stimulate the economy and get Americans working again through public sector investment.

Our goal must be an economy not just in which all Americans have jobs but good jobs — so we can provide for our families, send our kids to college, save for retirement and have some money left in our pockets to spend.  Whether they’re out in the streets or crying at their kitchen tables, that’s what all Americans are clamoring for.

Sally Kohn is a political commentator and community organizer.  She is a contributor to the American Prospect and the founder of the Movement Vision Lab, a grassroots think tank.

54 comments

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[...] to undermine the quality of current jobs, let alone create more and better jobs for the future.courtesy by CSB VN:F [1.9.10_1130]please wait…Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes [...]

Sally needs to spend some time in Africa to see what poverty is. So do the people who define it for Americans. Most of the poor I know have a car, airconditioning and a cell phone. Is the really poverty?

Secondly, she is right about needing good jobs. However, they are few and far between. It is our own fault that we let greed get the better of us and demand higher wages. This made our workforce less competitive and therefore our jobs we sent overseas. Look yourself in the mirror and be honest -

Posted by DeerHunter | Report as abusive

I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel until the country is stabilized. Businesses do not hire when time are unstable, and we have a government, and businesses that create the instability. Our president and our congress can only see a month ahead because they are looking at reelection and polls rather than doing the job they were hired to do. Talk about attitude and optimism will not get it. Businesses farm out work to overseas manufacturers and then expect the people to buy their products. Walmart buys at the lowest price and then brags about the low prices for their shoddy products. To have stability, one has to have a plan, and then to get it to come about you have to work with the guy who built this place because without him you just have hot air like we have now.

Posted by fred5407 | Report as abusive

To every unemployed person: join the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Posted by KyuuAL | Report as abusive

Ms. Kohn, thank you bringing us some common sense.

Many forget the dollars in their hands is merely a reflection of the value contribution of all workers in a democracy. Not that of a few CEOs or bankers: in basic finance theory, in an efficient market CEOs and bankers are almost meaningless. Somehow however, we allowed them to think they are Gods. Or modern popstars.

In the current hysteria I fear that many will hurry to state your article in some way or another as “socialistic” propoganda. Which it is definitely not, but simply Henry Fords concept of entrepreneurship: Pay your workers well because they are also the customers. It is a scandal we forgot these economic principles. Adam Smith would be ashamed what we did to capitalism.

Posted by FBreughel1 | Report as abusive

How can we compete with overseas manufacturing jobs at $ 200/month with no benefits and no overtime?

How can we compete with offshore outsourced service jobs ~70% cheaper than domestic US couterparts?

We could if we tax them.

Then u will be able to improve both quality and quantity of US jobs.

Posted by robb1 | Report as abusive

We do not want to end up like impoverished third-world countries. Anyone who says that the American workforce is not competitive in every-single sector is blind and needs to get their head examined. However, when forced to compete against workforces that are government subsidized, with exchange rates that are erroneous, and managed by incompetent management at every level, it is amazing what hard working Americans are still able to accomplish. Imagine if we did not have DC and Wall Street holding us back?

Posted by M.C.McBride | Report as abusive

The solution is to cut the wages and bonus of bankers by 70%.

Posted by JoeObserver | Report as abusive

#1: If you are UNDERemployed, you should join (or at least give you voice) to the OCCUPY WALL STREET Movement! Take action and don’t just sit at home because your voice needs to be heard — your elected officials are not paying attention to you at all (Republican or Democrat).
#2: Although the OCCUPY WALL STREET movement seems disjointed, the message will get more clear; it’s just taking time because the bankers/banksters LYING was so complex. The KEY AND SIMPLE POINT to remember here is that it’s about FRAUD and LYING — The Bankers, under the sham of saying they had sophisticated computer financial models: (a) LIED about the loans they gave you on your mortgages by INFLATING/LYING about the value of your house thru bogus appraisals; and (b) LIED about your ability to PAY the loan back by falsely evaluating your income; and (c) LIED about what they were doing with the loans — they sold them all as Mortgage Backed Securities saying the loans were HIGH QUALITY when in fact, the loans were all based on INFLATED LIES. Now, you are STUCK with debt, based on inflated lies, that is impossible to get out from OR you lose your house in the process. You are now stuck in SLAVERY to this debt. Yes, you did the deal, but based on LIES from the bank — the legal term is DETRIMENTAL RELIANCE. If I, as your supposedly trustworthy banker, tell you that I will analyze your INCOME and APPRAISE your house at a particular value based on my sophisticated computer systems, but in fact, the computer systems’ PRIMARY purpose is ONLY to get you COMMITTED to the loan, then I have gotten you to COMMIT based on a CON GAME (the word CON MAN comes from the word CONFIDENCE where a CON MAN would take advantage of you falsely trusting and confiding in the con man) and this CON GAME has now ruined America. Please understand how this CON GAME has now shackled most Americans to fraudulently obtained debt and has ENSLAVED Americans to a life of unescapable debt that was falsely valued from the start. REMEMBER DETRIMENTAL RELIANCE and REMEMBER how Bankers lied to get you to commit. SLAVERY is not LEGAL, even if you agree to it.

Posted by NoMoreUSDream | Report as abusive

The Solution is to force the banks to give everyone a 4% interest rate on their house if you received a loan in 2005 to 2009. The banks can make plenty of money at 4% and the average mortgage rate is now 7.5%, which is killing most households. Banks are greedily hoarding money.

Posted by NoMoreUSDream | Report as abusive

Exellent article.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

In our rush to ‘productivity’…….we invented automated solutions to our tasks……it takes less people to make more.

So less people have purchasing power

There are fewer customers.

What happens now?

Posted by Robertla | Report as abusive

Very good point, Robert. This trend will not change BTW. I am a software developer myself and many, many jobs (especially the fun ones like Sales and Marketing and Film/Entertainment that had a “human” component) are things that I design software to replace. Most employees are not needed and this will happen more and more. It is sad. Soon, the 1% will become the 1/10 of 1% and we will automate-control the 99.9%. Security and surveillance is becoming very automated and soon robot police (notice that police are still VERY well paid in the U.S. — average L.A. Police salary is $120,000 a year for a bonehead job) will shoot you on command. Our Free Market supports this, BTW, and the only way out of this cycle is to eliminate our Free Market system to one that makes more sense. Anything you say can and will be used against you and remember that even with a supposed anti-war president like Obama, it looks like the U.S. government now is at war with a ghost — the supposed “Terrorists” whoever they are and wherever they are who knows? We’re at war with a concept, the concept that maybe there’s another way besides the strict U.S. “supposedly” Free Market. If you don’t support the “Free Market,” you’re a Terrorist and a Subversive. Look at all the kids being arrested in the OCCUPY WALL STREET movement — they’re just kids who can’t get jobs after getting college educations and grad school educations who need a job to pay back their school loans. In the “Free Market,” these kids just aren’t needed.

Posted by NoMoreUSDream | Report as abusive

The unemployment problem started with George Bush and his republican thugs. They allowed Microsoft lobbyists and their colleagues to move thousands of jobs abroad thereby maximizing their profits and improving the skills of foreign workers (especially IT). So Bill Gates got richer and American IT workers got laid off and gradually lost their savings.

Now, a-hole Bill Gates is showering the world with his philanthropic droppings (nothing compared to his actual wealth and the harm and misery he has caused thousands of Americans) and things are progressively worse.

Same goes for reptile Buffet, the Koch brothers and their reptile colleagues. It’s all about how much they have and how much more they can get by exploiting their slaves. Rand Capitalism failed a long time ago but people are only beginning to realize this now.

I am Atlas Shrugged. I am homeless and soon I will have very little money left, after which I will go somewhere and blow my brains out because I will not accept food stamps, I will not take a job that is beneath me and I refuse to beg.

And of course, the world will go on because Ayn Rand was wrong. There are other Atlases out there without my brains or experience and they will be exploited because the Elite control the money which is the blood that makes the machine run…

Posted by JohnG-73645 | Report as abusive

Jeez louise, DeerHunter! First you want to benchmark “poverty” against one of the poorest areas of the world, then you blame workers for their “greed” in wanting higher wages instead of our corporations’ desire to grow their profits, which they’ve been pretty successful in doing. Please, get a little perspective.

Posted by PCScipio | Report as abusive

JohnG: I can relate so much. It is so sad to hear you say it, but you are so right. The system is now so rigged against our dignity. Can you believe that in this environment a U.S. presidential candidate (Herman Cain) basically said “Get A Job, Loser”? I am an MBA, lawyer and software person. My first job was at McDonald’s, I got almost straight A’s in school, but I was recently unemployed for more than a year after my manager role was given to an Indian manager because he had “outsourcing experience” (meaning he grew up in India and lied on his Green Card application to get over here in the first place) and could manage a team of people in Bangalore who charged our company 5% of the U.S. salaries.

JohnG: You know I’m horrified to say it, but I think there’s a lot of people like you out there who are contemplating suicide as well — suicide is violence and a lot of people may turn that suicidal ideation into “i’m not going down alone” and turn it into homocidal violence. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take that kind of violence to change the system from where it is. I think a lot of people are going to start saying “wait a minute, the banksters did this to me; where are they and where do they live?” Because the current political system is not creating change and maybe that system just doesn’t work anymore like it might have 200 years ago where fraud and greed were not rampant. I think that the figurative violence is going to turn literal and banksters may feel that more literally than figuratively in the near future. Horrible but true.

Posted by NoMoreUSDream | Report as abusive

I’ve worked in union shops before, they tend to protect the most useless employees that need to be fired. Some reforms to the quality of workers a union will accept would make them respectable. As they stand currently, unions just block businesses from quality control.

Posted by Hesacon | Report as abusive

“Of course, the 9.1% of unemployed Americans in our country would gladly take even the worst of jobs to put food on their tables.”

Nice assumption, too bad it’s wrong. For every American that is desperate to find a job and start working again… there’s always one who has no intention of getting off the government’s teat anytime soon.

Posted by RailBended | Report as abusive

What a shame that evry willing American cannot get a job. That the powers that be do everything they can to defeat that desire. And for what prize ? To be able to say that we have the power to block every attempt to make the economy a little better and to stop the other guy from getting credit for it. They would rather destroy the whole system just because they can. The so called canidates for the highest office, almost every one of them, are raving foaming at the mouth lunitics, saying negative false statements and then puts out a book to profit from their lies and unsubstanitive “facts”.

Posted by jbad1 | Report as abusive

The solution isn’t at either of the ideological/political extremes.

The author is obviously pro-union, pro-big-government and at least leans heavily toward socialism. She’s obviously got a liberal agenda. Europe should be teaching you that socialism is a hoax.

Some comments favor the opposite extreme – the unbridled ‘free market’ capitalism that got us where we are today – in a profound mess.

Somewhere BETWEEN these two extremes is where the answers are. But the problem is that no one wants to set aside their ideological agenda, or their greedy pursuits of power and wealth at the expense of the Republic, long enough to come up with and enact any solution.

THAT’S WHY I say we’re really screwed.

Posted by NukerDoggie | Report as abusive

Your interesting article clearly denotes that Capitalism as an economic system only benefits those who own the Capital. The fact that Unions have been on the brink of extinction is the pathetic probe that Capitalism only cares for the Bottom Line while increasing inequality, concentration of power and human exploitation. These are also the palpable consequences of Globalization which paradoxically has increased wealth only for the owner of Capital who benefit grandly from the exploitation of cheap labor markets, while impoverishing workers everywhere. If the conservative bandits in the GOP with their insensible and retrograde rhetoric want to call it “Class Warfare” so let’s be it…

Posted by marusik | Report as abusive

You don’t get it. This is a global economy.

Union Jobs = Future outsourced jobs, or a job that will no longer exist once the company goes out of business due to being unable to compete in the global economy.

Public Sector Jobs = Government budgets that are in the red and have to cut jobs. They are paid for by the taxpayer, what will we do when no more taxpayers exist?

Posted by UnPartisan | Report as abusive

marusik, our tax structure certainly suggests we favor capital over labor.

Posted by PCScipio | Report as abusive

Thank You for stating the obvious that so many articles avoid. Good Jobs, Not minimum wage jobs, are what’s important…I am feeling the pain of US corporations taking advantage of the unemployed and offering even Temporary Jobs at ridiculously low rates/hour…

Posted by ineeditbad | Report as abusive

The purchasing power of my wages almoat doubled between 1983 and 1987. Since 1987 and when I retired this year, it had not improved. This was despite nearly twice the dollars in the wages I got. It seems to me that everyone, union or not, got hit with this and everyone, union or not, needs some hope that a career can end with a more valuable wage at its end than at its start.

Posted by RET_SFC | Report as abusive

Corporations must DIE after a life span of 50 years

What would happen; with the life extending technology that is almost on us; if Warren Buffett lived for a couple HUNDRED years. He would own everything. Like never restarting a Monopoly game. New players don’t have a chance. Corporations must DIE; with 1% accruing to the People each year. At the end of that lifetime; sell it off lock stock and barrel; extinguishing copyrights and patents. Otherwise we will forever be enslaved by these mega monsters

The public would be better served if we never voted for the same candidate twice, EVER. That way only the exceptional would ever be re-elected..

CCFOGTV Citizens Coalition For Open Government Through Video

Posted by bloggerswamp | Report as abusive

The problem with Corporate America is how much is enough? Lets look at the oil industry, how much money do they need? When is billions and billions in profits enough? What ever happened to helping the workers who made the corporations worth billions? Where is the loyalty? I respect a self made corporation and yes the top does deserve a great living, but what about the working people?

Serious questions that need answers. Perhaps Congress can answer these concerns. Everyone needs a fair wage to survive.

Posted by cheeze | Report as abusive

Public sector jobs are great because average benefits are about 1.5 to 2 times that of the private sector that supports them. Problem is, these premium benefits promised by politicians for union votes has bankrupted governments and is crushing taxpayers. That’s why the these benefits are being taken away and the politicians who support them will be out of a job soon.

Posted by actnow | Report as abusive

A beautifully written article Ms.Sally kohn! We did not get here overnight however. I might suggest that unions, are not always necessary if you have a leader with good morals that can look beyond the paycheck. But, with Capitalism as our mantra, and such weak, greedy, and untrustworthy souls we continue to create in this country, people feel as betrayed as ever and for good reasons. The average workers paychecks continue to shrink, while the majority of CEO’S paychecks have grown ever-larger. Three million has now become five or six million a year for top brass, while the educated Joe who still pays for his college loan ten years later and lives in a suburban middle class neiborhood is overworked, and sold the “you can have it too” line of BS. All the while the equity in his home has evaporated, and after years of hard work, he’s forced to pay more to keep benefits, or just outright can’t afford insurance becuase one his children has a pre-existing condition. Everything costs more today whether it’s candy bars and ice cream, or houses and college, and for someone who doesn’t come from a family of money, the odds are against you that you’ll succeed in life. Actually, your chances of being harvested for jail or prison (another private run industry, who’s stock trades on wall street)are much greater than what one might think. We didn’t just mistakenly become the worlds leading jailer by mistake. It’s all part of the master plan the conservative, and morally righteous leaders laid out for folks who might make a mistake somewhere in life, and trust me, we all make’em, so chances are pretty good they’ve legislated a cell just for you. And the neighbor’s boy who decided not to go to college, landed a sweet job busting kids that smoke pot (the real criminals) and he get’s a company car, a huge ego and self-worth and a sweet benefit package. He even get’s to retire earlier than the rest of us with a full pension and benefits, isn’t that somethin! All courtesy of me, you, and everybody else who voted for a dysfunctional government that belongs to special interests. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it’s the way it’s been for as long as i can remember, and i don’t see it changing until people realize how much of their taxpayer dollars are spent on BS, and demand a change in everything! I live in a little town but almost %50 of my tax dollars go to “public safety”, which is just a catch all phrase for police, courts, prosecutors, judges, etc. It’s a massive system that needs us more than we need them 99% of the time. Nobody wants to talk about this black hole that just continues to eat up my tax dollars, while my streets crumble, and year after year, all we get is a patchjob. No bike trails on the roads, and the athletic fields for the kids look like Iraq. Trust me, nobody’s gonna go pro playing on baron, arid dirt. Yet we’ll spend $30000 dollars in a heartbeat to send the neighbor kid to jail, give hime a criminal record, and force him to change his mind that “pot is bad” even though his grades are better then the guy that put him there. What’s wrong with this picture? and when can we get someone who is an independent thinker that is fair, honest, and put’s society as a whole before another yacht?

Posted by schmetterling | Report as abusive

It takes fewer workers, FOR EVERYTHING……to make or do anything.

The number of workers, employed to do anything will decline in relation to the population of the planet…..that’s ‘productivity’.

What was Foxconn’s solution to it’s worker-suicide problem? Find ways to AUTOMATE the jobs.

As long as your purchasing power is tied to employment (or subcontracting), you will see a decline in what you can afford.

Now, if you can afford to invest, in capital improvements, and productivity enhancements……..you’ve got a chance.

But remember…….if your customers are ‘employees’, they are getting poorer every day. Labor is a commodity, that declines in value as the population increases. supply and demand.

Posted by Robertla | Report as abusive

Africa? hmm, Africa is not about poverty… it is about misery… how the birthplace of humanity is still a jungle were people live near the wild animals, fighting for feed a mere sub existence… sometimes turning into a violent zoo with the powerfull trying to control and exploit the mass, usurp the precarious goverment systems at their favour until all becomes anarchy… and by trading their resources and the work of their people for some cheap manufactured goods… and famine affects more than 1.5 Billion people…
Thats is not an excuse to say: “see, you are poor, but you should thank us… you could be like people in Africa”… because poverty is just one step close to misery… when the middle class becomes poor… the poor class becomes misery… If one poor family faces foreclosure, mom and dad are unemployed and their debt is bigger than all their possessions… is that poverty, or misery already?
“But they still have a car!”… ofc! Do you see where the constructors build their financed home? in a suburb +50-100 kilometers from downtown, with no public transportation… either you have a car or you are in the jungle there…
I dont believe in socialism or comunism. For me they corrupted themselves into a disguised form of capitalism long time ago…
I believe in corrupted politicians and private managers… because the global situation can only be achieved by a general wide spread corruption in the political and economical system… i dont believe in many unions for the same reason … many corrupted themselves into something like mafia…
If a gov now pays a contractor more for the same job that public workers did in the past… this is just an example of missmanagement driven by corruption of politicians and private managers… and people corrupted by power and money are everywhere…

Posted by VonHell | Report as abusive

Good points made, Sally.
Call me socialist, but studies from the Federal Reserve showed as of March 30, 2010, the total income of the population of the US was 54.6 trillion dollars. With the top 1% owning 40%, the top 5% owning 67%, and the bottom 95% having 33%; in real money that’s $21.84 trillion going to 3.1 million folks, $36.85 trillion going to 15.5 million folks, and $18.01 trillion going to 294.5 million folks.
But(and here I’m a socialist), if that same $54.6 trillion was divided among the total population of 310 million folks, every man, woman, child and baby, would get $176,130 dollars……EACH!!! I know some are going to say that some of us didn’t work hard enough and earn that money, that the truly successful top 5% deserved to keep what they make. Bollocks!!! Nobody and I mean nobody deserves more than a million dollars to live on, yet the top 400 average $37 million each, and gained mostly not from actual work, but from investments, capital gains for which taxes are at the lowest point ever.
Someone, say a brickmason who works hard everyday doing backbreaking physical work will never be rich, yet where is his reward for his success at building walls and buildings for decades? Isn’t his efforts worthy of reward? Yet the privileged investor class is getting all the breaks as it is today.
When did companies decide to have an accounting sheet that put labor as an expense rather than an asset? I’m no economist, but without the fruits of labor, no CEO, manager, customer, consumer, or citizen could have anything with out the workers.
Some TprtyRethugnuts like to say, hey, I’ve never been hired by a poor person….sure you have, every worker who makes the rich successful off of their labor gives you your job, not just the one in charge that says, you’re hired.

Posted by Ray984954 | Report as abusive

capitalism has destroyed America’s success. Wars and the war machinery which thrives on wars makes money for those who are invested in these areas. Then you have the stock market with its programmed trading which allows people with lots of money to make huge sums of money at lightening speed. The end result is those who toil by working for capitalists suffer due to disproportionately high taxes while hedge fund managers and nonprofit chiefs make huge amounts of money and pay less in taxes. Then you have the democrats and Republicans talk the talk but both don’t walk the walk; well Dems do very little more than the Repubs.At the end of the day a global economy makes way to send jobs overseas and make more profits for the capitalists and at the same time kills unionised and nonunionised jobs in the states thus making it a poorer country with less people earning a decent wage and more going into poverty. We may thank the Bush era for this sordid state of affairs.

Posted by loiters21 | Report as abusive

capitalism has destroyed America’s success. Wars and the war machinery which thrives on wars makes money for those who are invested in these areas. Then you have the stock market with its programmed trading which allows people with lots of money to make huge sums of money at lightening speed. The end result is those who toil by working for capitalists suffer due to disproportionately high taxes while hedge fund managers and nonprofit chiefs make huge amounts of money and pay less in taxes. Then you have the democrats and Republicans talk the talk but both don’t walk the walk; well Dems do very little more than the Repubs.At the end of the day a global economy makes way to send jobs overseas and make more profits for the capitalists and at the same time kills unionised and nonunionised jobs in the states thus making it a poorer country with less people earning a decent wage and more going into poverty. We may thank the Bush era for this sordid state of affairs.

Posted by loiters21 | Report as abusive

capitalism has destroyed America’s success. Wars and the war machinery which thrives on wars makes money for those who are invested in these areas. Then you have the stock market with its programmed trading which allows people with lots of money to make huge sums of money at lightening speed. The end result is those who toil by working for capitalists suffer due to disproportionately high taxes while hedge fund managers and nonprofit chiefs make huge amounts of money and pay less in taxes. Then you have the democrats and Republicans talk the talk but both don’t walk the walk; well Dems do very little more than the Repubs.At the end of the day a global economy makes way to send jobs overseas and make more profits for the capitalists and at the same time kills unionised and nonunionised jobs in the states thus making it a poorer country with less people earning a decent wage and more going into poverty. We may thank the Bush era for this sordid state of affairs.

Posted by loiters21 | Report as abusive

One issue always puzzles me: the future of employment. With automation taking over everything from making cars to sharedealing to harvesting cereals, the amount of work available for humans is dwindling fast. Soon the designers of robots and software will be the last bastion of human travail. So, how will this dwindling supply of work be shared? Or will some other system for keeping cash flowing be introduced?

Posted by Aran | Report as abusive

I’m one of the tiny fraction (90.9%) of americans who are still working, and I’m lucky, and grateful to God, who has blessed me. The government can’t help the unemployed, their programs tend to prolong unemployment and discourage hiring. They need to get out of the way, restore confidence that capitalism will remain the economic engine that it always has been, and then the economy will turn around. With our leaders talking the social jsutice nonsense (everybody should be poor so life will be “fair”), no one with any sense is going to take a risk or make an expansionary move for fear of being robbed by the Obamites.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive

Is this Reuters Red Star???? Seriously…….why don’t they just come out and say they support the OSW movement along with MSN and NBC?? Grassroots my butt!!

As they keep brainwashing the Lemmings where do you think this is headed….Claims of Class Warfare, Social Justice and Fairness in Society…..Look further down the road if you dare….see the violence…I do…Tick Tock

Posted by Crash866 | Report as abusive

Democracy > capitalism

When an economic system no longer serves the greater good, its time for the people to stand up and change it.

At this point in time, Multinational Corporations are attempting to finalize their hold on government and both political parties. Now is the time to fight back.

There will always be some intellectual midgets who cry “its a good thing for multinationals to rule us” but those are the same folks who said “God appointed King George to rule the colonies”. They, and their ilk, should be dismissed from society and given their own island.

Posted by LordCavendish | Report as abusive

[...] 10 10 2011 20:01 UTC USA JOB Gloss News meryluiseastri ” errare humanum est, perseverare autem… 11 ottobre 2011 Posted by meryluiseastri in Video Poesie Meryluise Astrologa. trackback 10 10 2011  20:01 UTC USA WORK Gloss News  meryluiseastri ” errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum Un beau débat ouvert aux USA sur l’Union, il est vrai que les syndicats dans le passé ont conduit à un travail de meilleur qualité et encore vrai que la privatisation a appauvri la classe ouvrière, mais aussi vrai que Detroit ont comme l’Union de signer les contrats où les travailleurs ont perdu tous les avantages acquis dans le passé ou l’erreur ? a mon opinion  traduit français allemand et l’espagnol [...]

[...] 10 10 2011 20:09 UTC US WORK Gloss News meryluiseastri ” errare humanum est, perseverare autem… 11 ottobre 2011 Posted by meryluiseastri in Video Poesie Meryluise Astrologa. trackback   [...]

So, given all these positive aspects of unions, why have they so significantly declined?

Are there some negative aspects of unions that you’ve declined to mention? Have some of the demands for increased wages and benefits pushed them into an unsustainable, unfunded realm?

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive

Lord Cavendish:
It’s time for you to accept that the class war has already been decided. The wealthy are in complete control and doing very well during this depression. Isn’t it obvious?

Cain is right. Stop complaining, get a job and make yourself rich.

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive

Sally! I read your bio. You’ve never held a real job. If your philosophy was enacted, it would create 100% unemployment.

Posted by Handbook | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, American labor rates need to be recalibrated. It will be a painful process. Union or not, our wages are just too high compared to the rest of the world, and American corporations are obviously optimizing profit using overseas manufacturing and labor. To increase the number of jobs, a temporary, say 3-year reduction in the minimum wage to $4.00/hr will help to start to get citizens that are homeless and unemployed-without-benefits back into a job situation, as corporations will be able to hold their profit margins – but – this reduction would need to be coupled with an increase in active re-training programs, a lockdown on unchecked greed by American corporations via the elimination of corporate and capital gains tax loopholes and the restructuring of income tax rates to have everyone (even the top 2%) paying their fair share, as well as an increase in tariffs on imported goods. This would be a formula for re-incentivizing American startups and established corporations to return manufacturing to the homeland, reducing unemployment, starting a trend for higher worker wages over time, and returning the USA to a self-sufficent mode once again. Even better if the new technologies that the re-trained workforce encountered were related to alternative energy generation and distribution. After goals have been met, the minimum wage can be stepped back upwards incrementally as needed.

Posted by roc1 | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, American labor rates need to be recalibrated. It will be a painful process. Union or not, our wages are just too high compared to the rest of the world, and American corporations are obviously optimizing profit using overseas manufacturing and labor. To increase the number of jobs, a temporary, say 3-year reduction in the minimum wage to $4.00/hr will help to start to get citizens that are homeless and unemployed-without-benefits back into a job situation, as corporations will be able to hold their profit margins – but – this reduction would need to be coupled with an increase in active re-training programs, a lockdown on unchecked greed by American corporations via the elimination of corporate and capital gains tax loopholes and the restructuring of income tax rates to have everyone (even the top 2%) paying their fair share, as well as an increase in tariffs on imported goods. This would be a formula for re-incentivizing American startups and established corporations to return manufacturing to the homeland, reducing unemployment, starting a trend for higher worker wages over time, and returning the USA to a self-sufficent mode once again. Even better if the new technologies that the re-trained workforce encountered were related to alternative energy generation and distribution. After goals have been met, the minimum wage can be stepped back upwards incrementally as needed.

Posted by roc1 | Report as abusive

When unions hold companies hostage insisting on higher wages without needing to increase hourly rates of output they are only increasing the cost of union labor.

When unions don’t train their members to learn job skills, when they prevent cross training of their members by theirthe employers, they bring no value to the employer or the economy.

When they pay their leaders handsome salaries and pensions for overseeing their demise…and decline.

Greed is not limited to Wall Street.

Posted by mikeILLINOIS | Report as abusive

First, note that most jobs are poor jobs.

Throughout the world, “good” jobs exist only in powerful, dominating countries that are almost always racially and ethnically homogeneous. They have good jobs because they stick together and because they do not give their advantages away. Neither of these things is true of the USA any more and both are becoming less true weekly.

Second, note that attempts to reduce “poverty” both here and abroad have led to the mass production of college degrees without regard to demand and generally without regard to cost.

The result is that we have exported knowledge and skills to our competitors and have actually imported foreign workers on a completely unprecedented scale. These actions clearly have resulted in harm to the people who were already here.

We have planned a lowering of living standards and executed it on a national scale. It is working. We have set the stage for social and ethnic conflict on a level never seen here. And we shall have it.

Simply hoping for a high wage, “everybody is happy” nirvana economy will not make it happen. Our “vision” of the future is for a society that does not even remotely resemble any human society that has ever existed.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

Good article.

Fundamentally I see a lot of our social issues are a result of valuing corporate profits over the betterment of our society and dignity. This was not the capitalistic dream of our founders. This was their biggest enemy – the monarchists controlling their lives.

Why should we be chasing the lowest cost manufacturing worker or worker base globally if it destroys our society? Simply it’s because as a democracy we have no control of our politicians once they are voted in. They are only accountable to themselves and their lobbyists.

We should be viewing a model of self sufficiency where we can produce and consume most of what we need – and export our innovation.

As automation takes away jobs – this should be reason to celebrate and expand our quality of life – instead we’ve created an environment of class warfare and a paranoid sleep deprived work base for the few fortunate able to find work.

This global corporate squeeze on humanity is a living version of the movie Terminator – where global profits are the machine chewing us up worldwide.

We still have a chance to change things – unfortunately those controlling the Terminators are more ambitious and paranoid than human.

Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive

[...] In our national desperation to create jobs, we’ve forgotten that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. As any busboy cleaning up after a Wall Street banker can tell you, not all jobs are created equal.  ary [...]

[...] In our national desperation to create jobs, we’ve forgotten that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. As any busboy cleaning up after a Wall Street banker can tell you, not all jobs are created equal.  ary [...]

[...] In our national desperation to create jobs, we’ve forgotten that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. As any busboy cleaning up after a Wall Street banker can tell you, not all jobs are created equal.  ary [...]

[...] In our national desperation to create jobs, we’ve forgotten that quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. As any busboy cleaning up after a Wall Street banker can tell you, not all jobs are created equal.  ary [...]

I’m all for reigning in executive pay; if a corporation has a (total executive compensation ration)/(market capitalization) ration in the top 10 percent of the companies in its size class, it should be required to issue a “scarlet letter” statement, explaining that its executives receive more compensation than the norm and why. This would discourage boards from dolling out huge awards to paper pushers who don’t deserve them. I’m not so enthusiastic about unions, however. Unionization worked in the US when the economy had room to grow, pension plans were unregulated as well as underfunded, health costs were low (due to the fact that most of today’s expensive treatments didn’t exist) and (in a market in which most of their competitors were still recovering from WWII) companies could easily pass on the costs of generous settlements to customers both here and abroad. Even then, union workers benefited more at the expense of consumers (other workers)than investors. In today’s more competitive environment, unions are more prone to get their members fired than benefit them; they can also render whole geographical areas “union strongholds”, wastlands which are avoided even by non-union firms. The commercial high-tech firms of the 60s-90s had generous pay scales without much unionization. This would be a better model for future prosperity than the world of Ralf Cramdon.

Posted by PCL1 | Report as abusive

We have a glitch in the U.S. brand of consumer capitalism, I have been concerned for some time when we approached a time when U.S. consumers, because of economic stress, could not spend enough to maintain the capitalist infrastructure. With the pressures against unions, the globalization and automation replacements, the inflation in costs of required insurances, mortgages, and utilities for middle class people and small businesses; There is not enough left to pay everyone. The media bundle is $120 a month, before it was $25 a month for a phone bill, with no cost for ‘cable-TV and internet connection’.
With a population well over 320 million, if 50 to 60% of the population can afford what is required to keep up a fully-realized American home: The individual corporate suppliers of utilities, insurance, food production, and then include governmental services, these production entities can prosper enough as individual ‘corporate citizens’, but the system feels pressure from the growing numbers of underemployed workers who cannot afford all the insurances, the mortgage/rent, the media bill, the food bill, vehicle acquisition, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… That is the economic ‘glitch’ of the U.S. system. And when, in these newly exploited international labour markets, the workers rightly insist on a better lifestyle, their version of worker ‘Bust-Boom-bust’ cycle that the US saw. low wages at beginning of industrialization to higher wages with shared progress to lower wages or even job losses as management seeks lower wages elsewhere…

Posted by wiggy1855 | Report as abusive

The number of private union jobs have plummeted because they have priced themselves out of the market. The number of public union jobs will decline because the people paying for their “good jobs ” are sick of more taxes and paying for benefits that are unsustainable. Someone has to pay the bills. You need to take economics 101 and learn how the real world works

Posted by Stan10785 | Report as abusive

“….where the quality of life for workers rises” What does this mean? More money so Americans can continue to gobble up TV’s, iPods, cell phones, cheap clothes, etc. etc. etc. manufactured by the Chinese? We are partly to blame ourselves. We are the ones who’s bottomless appetite for cheap “stuff” caused an explosion in the Chinese economy. Our appetite for this junk has caused our jobs to go overseas.

Posted by r.felder | Report as abusive

The fundamental spontaneity of the worldwide protests, not just here in the U.S. but everywhere, is indicative that people everywhere are FED UP with special deals, privileges, monopolies, tax avoidance for special classes of people who feel they are, somehow, exempt from rules that apply only to “little” people. In foreign countries these entrenched special interests have manipulated themselves into even greater control of governments than has occurred here.

All of these corporatist machinations are then rationalized with pseudo-patriotic appeals, absurd rationalizations about capitalism with little basis in fact, and media supported nonsense about job creation and opportunities coupled with official “statistics” which are designed to conceal rather than expose the full extent of the problem.

All unions are not without sin, there have indeed been excesses in the past as is the case in every organization, but the outrageous attempts by a small minority of politicians to represent their narrow election victories as a “mandate” to turn back the achievements of over a century of labor laws, often bought at the expense of bloody and even dangerous strikes opposed by company thugs, this represents a complete and obvious misinterpretation regarding voter disgust with the corporatist and special interest controlled congress and a dysfunctional government.

The Occupy Wall Street movement represents no confused goals – its goals, the goal of all of us remains united to end the interregnum of corporatist subversion of our government and restore the representative democracy which is the basis of our socio-political philosophy and heritage.

One of America’s greatest presidents, Franklin Roosevelt, now the subject of misrepresentation and castigation by historically misinformed special interests, called explicitly for an 2d Bill of Rights to address fundamental economic issues. The opposition continues to tout a make believe and non-existent “capitalism” as justification to continue their special deals, monopolies and tax breaks while insulting our intelligence with nonsense about how only this will cause “job creation”.

The full extent of the reforms necessary to wipe away this self righteous subversion of our government is nothing less than the same process which stripped them of their assertions about slave ownership 150 years ago… their “property”. Let us, like Kohn here, explicitly expose the charade to pave the way for real, and long overdue, reforms.

Posted by CitizenJimserac | Report as abusive

Definition: A Recession is when your neighbor’s house is foreclosed on. A Depression is when your house is foreclosed on. It’s hard to focus on business bankruptcy when there is so much personal bankruptcy everywhere. No more Obama bail out’s! If a company cannot keep up with the times then let ‘em fail. That’s the American way!

Posted by Burgerness | Report as abusive

This article seems extremely biased and narrow-minded to me.

First of all, “union jobs = good jobs” is hogwash. The only “good” aspect of those jobs is short-term, for the selfish interests of the individual. Unions foster corruption and laziness, and discourage excellence. This is a huge part of why American products from union shops became non-competitive in the world marketplace. Unions extorted higher wages and better benefits, thus forcing higher prices. Our steel industry was completely destroyed by unions.

Another gross distortion:
“Public sector jobs = good jobs”

Public sector jobs simply drain the working cleass of money. Those public sector jobs do not create tangible products to sell in the world marketplace, thus bring in no revenue. In conjunction with unions, again extorting excessive wages and benefits at the expense of taxpayers, the unfunded liabilities of pensions for public sector employees will bankrupt the nation. We are pushing near 100 TRILLION dollars in unfunded liabilities. Where is that money to come from???

The problem with jobs:

America lost millions of high salary jobs, especially in the high tech sectors. Those jobs paid GOOD money (all without the need for unions), and those employees were in the upper tax brackets. Those employees also had large amounts of money to invest, and large amounts of disposable income to SPEND, which helps build local economies. Those already-taxed dollars go into the local economies, to be taxed again, so local, state and federal tax revenues are increased. The current administration seems to think “shovel ready” jobs will magically cure our ecomonic problems, but they will not. Partly because those jobs are all very low-paying jobs, and partly because the cost of lawsuits from far-left environmentalists who try to block virtually every construction project will kill any benefit from the few jobs actually created. Locally we had the opportunity for over 2,000 “shovel ready” jobs from the stimulus, but not one came to fruition. Each project has been blocked by far-left environmental extremists.

It has become clear that the current administration is as much pro-corporate as any other administration ever was. They continue to make life easy for the already rich, while their policies are virtually destroying the middle class. While the administration has been aggressively attacking small farms, health food stores, and Gibson Guitars, there have been ZERO prosecutions of the corrupt bankers who were a significant factor for the economic disaster we are facing. The administration continues to support unions which continue to cause economic harm; especially public sector unions.

America needs a complete change in Congress, on both sides of the aisle. The current Congress is the most corrupt in the history of America, and are doing the will of Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry and the oil industry. They are become RICH beyond rich, while America suffers. Unfortunately, so many people are brainwashed by organizations calling themselves a “grassroots think tank”, which are in fact simply a tool used by the ultra liberal far-left extremists who are so arrogant they believe THEIR way is the ONLY way.

Posted by Active0ldLady | Report as abusive

This article seems extremely biased and narrow-minded to me.

First of all, “union jobs = good jobs” is hogwash. The only “good” aspect of those jobs is short-term, for the selfish interests of the individual. Unions foster corruption and laziness, and discourage excellence. This is a huge part of why American products from union shops became non-competitive in the world marketplace. Unions extorted higher wages and better benefits, thus forcing higher prices. Our steel industry was completely destroyed by unions.

Another gross distortion:
“Public sector jobs = good jobs”

Public sector jobs simply drain the working cleass of money. Those public sector jobs do not create tangible products to sell in the world marketplace, thus bring in no revenue. In conjunction with unions, again extorting excessive wages and benefits at the expense of taxpayers, the unfunded liabilities of pensions for public sector employees will bankrupt the nation. We are pushing near 100 TRILLION dollars in unfunded liabilities. Where is that money to come from???

The problem with jobs:

America lost millions of high salary jobs, especially in the high tech sectors. Those jobs paid GOOD money (all without the need for unions), and those employees were in the upper tax brackets. Those employees also had large amounts of money to invest, and large amounts of disposable income to SPEND, which helps build local economies. Those already-taxed dollars go into the local economies, to be taxed again, so local, state and federal tax revenues are increased. The current administration seems to think “shovel ready” jobs will magically cure our ecomonic problems, but they will not. Partly because those jobs are all very low-paying jobs, and partly because the cost of lawsuits from far-left environmentalists who try to block virtually every construction project will kill any benefit from the few jobs actually created. Locally we had the opportunity for over 2,000 “shovel ready” jobs from the stimulus, but not one came to fruition. Each project has been blocked by far-left environmental extremists.

It has become clear that the current administration is as much pro-corporate as any other administration ever was. They continue to make life easy for the already rich, while their policies are virtually destroying the middle class. While the administration has been aggressively attacking small farms, health food stores, and Gibson Guitars, there have been ZERO prosecutions of the corrupt bankers who were a significant factor for the economic disaster we are facing. The administration continues to support unions which continue to cause economic harm; especially public sector unions.

America needs a complete change in Congress, on both sides of the aisle. The current Congress is the most corrupt in the history of America, and are doing the will of Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry and the oil industry. They are become RICH beyond rich, while America suffers. Unfortunately, so many people are brainwashed by organizations calling themselves a “grassroots think tank”, which are in fact simply a tool used by the ultra liberal far-left extremists who are so arrogant they believe THEIR way is the ONLY way.

Posted by Active0ldLady | Report as abusive