President Trump has been bragging about the economy lately:
The Economy is soooo good, perhaps the best in our country’s history (remember, it’s the economy stupid!), that the Democrats are flailing & lying like CRAZY! Phony books, articles and T.V. “hits” like no other pol has had to endure-and they are losing big. Very dishonest people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
And yet. Wages are flat and the income gap is widening. According to Bloomberg:
Median household income, adjusted for inflation, rose 1.8 percent last year to $61,372, from $60,309 in 2016, according to annual data on income and poverty from the Census Bureau on Wednesday. The level roughly matches highs in 1999 and 2007 when accounting for changes to the survey, according to the bureau, though it’s the smallest gain in three years.
In the same time period, wealth for those at the top of the pyramid rose more quickly than for those at the bottom. A recent report found that a minimum-wage worker needs 2.5 full-time jobs to afford a one-bedroom apartment in most of the US.
Even folks who are fortunate enough to have higher paying jobs are struggling — especially when families come into the picture. A former Facebook employee explains:
When I told Facebook I wanted to work from home part-time, HR was firm: You can’t work from home, you can’t work part-time, and you can’t take extra unpaid leave. In mid-July, with the heartache of a break-up, I sent my resignation letter. I also wrote another note describing my agonizing choice, saying that Facebook could and should do better for families… Sheryl Sandberg commented, explaining that while management wanted to move in that direction at some point in the future, they couldn’t right now. Allowing part-time options to all parents would strain the rest of the team, she said.
This worker extolled Facebook to do better. However, the problem is bigger than Facebook. Sandberg is right to a degree, Facebooks can’t afford to pay workers the same amount for less work or they will have a shareholder revolt on their hands. The problem is bigger than any one employer— and juggling new babies— it’s the whole economy. Worker productivity is way up while wages have been flat since the 70s. The stock market is soaring because companies are squeezing every little bit out of the workers.
Meanwhile we are all working at an insane pace to keep up. What is the point?
I think the only solution is to have our own companies — and keep them private. Don’t go after VC funds. Keep more of the value we create for ourselves and our workers.
Yes, it’s hard. But plenty of hard things are worth doing.
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