Have you ever wondered, as I have, why it is that corporate profits in the last eighteen months or so have been going through roof yet unemployment in the United States seems to have stagnated at around nine and a half percent? Where is all this “trickle down” that our Republicans keep talking about?
Your reading assignment for this weekend is Bob Herbert’s New York Times op-ed:
The treatment of workers by American corporations has been worse — far more treacherous — than most of the population realizes. There was no need for so many men and women to be forced out of their jobs in the downturn known as the great recession.
Many of those workers were cashiered for no reason other than outright greed by corporate managers. And that cruel, irresponsible, shortsighted policy has resulted in widespread human suffering and is doing great harm to the economy.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Andrew Sum, an economics professor and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. “Not only did they throw all these people off the payrolls, they also cut back on the hours of the people who stayed on the job.”
As Professor Sum studied the data coming in from the recession, he realized that the carnage that occurred in the workplace was out of proportion to the economic hit that corporations were taking. While no one questions the severity of the downturn — the worst of the entire post-World War II period — the economic data show that workers to a great extent were shamefully exploited. …
There can be no robust recovery as long as corporations are intent on keeping idle workers sidelined and squeezing the pay of those on the job.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Germany and Japan, because of a combination of government and corporate policies, suffered far less worker dislocation in the recession than the U.S. Until we begin to value our workers, and understand the critical importance of employment to a thriving economy, we will continue to see our standards of living decline.
Click on the headline to read the entire column.
UPDATE: Also read “The crisis of middle-class America.”