Lay-offs - Just a Cost of Doing Business?


While watching the destruction of the middle class and the gap between them and the American Dream widen monthly, I have been less than impressed with the right's answers to the pain that they and their corporate masters are inflicting on Americans.

I lately received an e-mail from a gentleman who, with very good reason, should remain anonymous. He stated that lay-offs are simply a cost and method of doing business in 1997 America. He further stated, without proof, that everyone who was laid off in the past ten years have since found profitable employment elsewhere. When asked where he found this information his answer was, "Everybody knows that it's true. I think even Rush Limbaugh said it lately".

Well, far be it from me to doubt the word of America's most prolific liar or even to doubt the wisdom of "everybody". I prefer to stand in other substances.

Instead, let's look at reality and check a few facts as we go along. Yup, Mr. Conservative, I did, indeed, say "facts". You can stop reading now if that will take you into unfamiliar territory. About one-third of America's labor force earn $15,000 or less annually.

Between 1992 and 1995, 15% of people holding jobs for more than a year lost those jobs. On average, those who found new jobs earned 14% less per year than with their old jobs.

The rate of job loss in the 90's boom economy is higher than in the recession years of the early 1980's or early 90's. Even the rate of growth in the economy is the slowest in the post WW II period, dragging along at 2.6% between 1992 and 1996 (and will appear even smaller now that the CPI is an outright fabrication).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real compensation ( wages plus benefits) fell 0.4% in 1993, fell 0.9% in 1994, fell 0.3% in 1995 and barely increased by 0.3% in 1996. By the end of 1996, a median income family of four earned 3% less in constant dollars than the same family would have in 1989 and just 1.6% more than in 1973.

Compare that with the richest 5% of Americans who earned nearly 54.1% more since 1975.

Alan Greenspan, the only God whom Wall Street fears, proudly admits that one of his fundamental intentions is to assure a large enough "labor pool" to insure that wages either stagnate or outright fall. He states that this is of such vast importance since higher worker's salaries means less profits for corporations and less value for corporate stock on Wall Street. He has claimed that the minimum unemployment should stay at 6%, or twelve million American workers, not including their families. Of course, he has also stated that Wall Street will be the healthiest when the entire gamut of entitlement programs; Welfare, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, are eliminated. What a wonderful spectacle he is.

Lawrence Lindsey, a former governor of the Federal Reserve, is recommending that the economy (read Wall Street) should be propped up even further by refusing to engage in a trade war with Japan or China (read force them to open their markets to the same extent ours are), pass "fast track" authority to expand trade with Latin America (read move even more American jobs where labor is cheap and the government can be bought even cheaper) and to increase domestic productivity by allowing school choice and entitlement reform (read roll over and play dead for the Christian Coalition's agenda while continuing to victimize the poor over and over and over).

Percentage of all federal taxes that was paid by corporations in 1996 was 13%. Percentage in 1973 was 24%.

The California Supreme Court decreed on Oct. 29th of this year that the age of an employee can now freely be taken into account during lay-offs. That means that it is now completely legal to clean out all of your old, experienced and highly paid employees at any interval you choose and replace them with the younger, lower paid and more pliant workers of your choice. This also means that you may hire the cheapest, least qualified candidate and ignore experience and not have to fear being sued for age discrimination.

Ladies and gentlemen, the far right's vision of utopia is here. All that matters is your level of wealth and your ability to get rid of anyone who might earn a living wage, if that wage cuts into your obscene profits. The Reagan era of pure meanness and thoughtless greed has won, folks. If you are among those who voted Republican, then it is basically your fault. Don't whine when your job disappears. I sincerely hope your children remember to thank you when they are forced into the job market that you helped create. Of course, you'll just blame it all on those "darned liberals" and go right back to sleep, won't you?

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Copyright 11/5/97