Comments about ‘What others say: America's wage problem’

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Published: Thursday, Aug. 29 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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anti-liar
Salt Lake City, UT

The primary problem is not the "economy," but rather greed -- pure, unmitigated, unbridled greed. It has become a disease of epidemic proportion among American businessmen today.

cjb
Bountiful, UT

The 75 percent increase in productivity could have meant a 75 percent wage increase for all Americans had it been distributed equitably. Instead this money went to the top 'one percent'.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Meanwhile --
The 1% who have Quadrupled their "earnings",
have been selfishly hording and not been trickling down like they promised.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

This is one, if not thee, problem in America.

We have been sold a bad joke that less regulation, lower taxes (for the rich), and more productivity (by the workers) will lead the more prosperity for everyone. In fact, it hasn't. It has merely led to more money for the 1 percent.

Reaganomics have failed... Miserably.

marxist
Salt Lake City, UT

Yes, but as Marx would say "it's not the people it's the system." Yes, greed has a whole lot to do with it, but such is programmed into contemporary capitalism - to the capitalist class there is never "enough." Profits are never high enough. To learn why this is so, read "Capital."

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

But Maverick, the "rich" just got another tax increase! What are you talking about? Maybe its Obamaconomics that is has failed miserably! And by the way Reagan isn't the President anymore and neither is Bush, just so you will know!

Edgar
Samaria, ID

Whether any of us, regardless of our political stripes, want to admit it, one of the main reasons for wage stagnation is the dwindling power and influence of labor unions. Yes, unions like the UAW abused their leverage by demanindg more and more from their employers, and the employers were happy to give those benefits as long as they were making a healthy profit themselves. But even the UAW has given back benefits in recent years. What has the top management of major corporations given back besides pink slips and excuses for cutting wages or, at the very least, refusing to give wage increases. All while their bank accounts have overflowed with money.

When unions were at their peak in terms of power and influence, ALL workers benefited with wages that were more closely aligned with management and benefits that made their lives liveable and bearable. But many or most "workers" today dream of being at the top of the heap some day and seem more than willing to accept sub-standard wages and benefit packages, assuming they will rise above it. Only when workers start standing together - again - will their situation begin to change for the better.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

President Eisenhower once made a speech to the Detroit economic club in which he stated the genius of American capitalism was that an average worker could buy a nice house, a nice car, and send his children to college on his average working class income alone. He said the reason for this is because America's business leaders understood that it was in their own best interest to ensure that their workers were prosperous.

He went on to say that the countries which were vulnerable to communist takeover were those in which the business elite took all of the wealth for themselves and their workers did not share in the prosperity. Sadly our leaders have forgotten that lesson.

Although communist takeover is no longer a threat, it is simply not possible to have a stable society in which a few thousand people live like Roman Emperors while half the population can't make enough to survive. It will lead to either anarchy or a police state. I'm betting on the police state.

Nate
Pleasant Grove, UT

So let's talk about solutions. If the root of the problem is greed, the solution is not to throw out the entire system of liberty that brings us so many blessings. Redistributing wealth by force is not the answer. The solution is to create a change in individual hearts and minds, so that employers freely choose to be generous instead of greedy. We can do this by appealing to conscience and reason, by encouragement, and by teaching correct principles.

We should be strengthening the institutions which cultivate virtue: families, churches, charities, service groups, community organizations.

We can also point to concrete examples where high employee wages foster a successful business. There are many local examples, including the company where I work. My employer believes in treating his employees right, and has been rewarded many times over for his trust and generosity. His business is growing, and he has won all kinds of commercial awards in Utah. You will see many such examples, if you only look for them.

Wanda B. Rich
Provo, UT

For some time now the national economic debate his been hijacked by alarm over the debt. While the debt is worrisome, the larger and more fundamental problem is our expanding inequality. If we solve the inequality problem, much of the debt problem will again become manageable.

Less money going to the consumer classes means they can't afford to buy consumer products, which means the corporate producers need more government welfare. It also means more people unemployed or underemployed, more people in need of help from government, more speculative investments in risky financial instruments (because low demand precludes investment in productive capacity), and more wealth accumulating among those who don't need it and don't really hire anybody (the purported "job creators).

Solve inequality, and the debt crisis will slowly melt away.

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

All of to comments on this thread are misguided. Anti-liar, do you think "greed" is some new phenomenon, as if previous generations were not "afflicted" with self-interest? I also take issue with the assumption that inequality is a problem. I don't think we should begrudge those who have created the wonderful consumer products that even the poorest among us enjoy their reward. Yes, even the "poor" in this country have nicer cars, better housing and more "stuff" like fancy cell phones and electronics than middle class people from the 1970s ever dreamed of. So let's stop moaning about inequality. This attitude is purely the politics of envy. There are more opportunities today for people to get ahead than ever before if they are motivated.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Unions kept thing like this in check.

So long as Billionaire suck money OUT of the economy, by stuffing their excesses into Swiss or Cayman Island bank accounts, and not putting it back into the great economic engine -- those actually working and producing all that wealth in the 1st place are left poorer and poorer.

That's what's happening,
[1% now have amassed 80% of the wealth, while the remaining 99% fight over the pettily remaining 20%.]
and THAT's how and why the Rich get richer, and the poor are getting poorer.

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

There are two changes in the modern economy that foster this idea that people can't get ahead. The first is globalization has made low-skilled labor a cheap commodity, while in the past it brought a higher price here in the US. The only solution to that is to not get stuck in a low-skilled job. People need to realize that they have to get additional training or education, or even start their own businesses to get ahead. By getting ahead I mean relatively, because everyone is better off when new products become mainstream and improve quality of life for even the poorest.

The other change is that the social safety net has become something of a prison. People can't afford to take a better job because they will lose their food stamps, or medicaid, or some other benefit. So instead of taking that job that could lead to more skills and climbing the ladder, they are stuck, trapped by the system.

Shaun
Sandy, UT

@invisible hand. In a capitalism their will always be poor people. It would be impossible for everyone to move up for a variety of reasons and this is why a safety net is a crucial part of capitalism.

m.g. scott
clearfield, UT

anti-liar, cjb, and LDS Liberal

I am a conservative Republican, but I can't disagree with you on that one. There is trillions of dollars working in our economy, but right now the wealthy and big businesses are holding on to it. I won't go into why, because that's where we would probably part ways. Let's just agree that you say it's Bushs/Republicans fault, I say it's more Obama/Democrat fault. Good day.

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

@Shaun: I'm not saying we shouldn't have a safety net. I'm just saying that the safety net we have today does as much to trap people as protect them. How can we make the safety net more "safe" but less confining?

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

We actually want to shoot ourselves in the foot. We balk at a minimum wage increase, let alone barely tolerate the existence of unions. We're letting the businesses have what they want, and that's what they're giving us.

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

@Hutterite: Letting business have what they want? Try running a business sometime. The regulations and red tape involved with even hiring someone are so much work that it's a wonder anyone has a job.

Wanda B. Rich
Provo, UT

To follow up on my previous comment, let me suggest that we have two basic approaches to solving our economic troubles today. The conservative approach is to ignore inequality (see comments above) and focus on reducing the debt solely by cutting government expenses. This approach brings unwanted results. It puts more people in economic jeopardy, increases inequality, decreases demand, and, eventually, will even sink the yachts of the wealthy, because they depend on the consumer classes for their wealth. In other words, this approach kills the golden goose.

The other approach, favored by liberals, is to redistribute income through taxation. This has obvious drawbacks (see other comments above), but it does directly address the more fundamental problem of inequality and does act to decrease the debt (through higher revenues).

Neither major political party seems able to see the obvious third (and better) solution: spread wealth more evenly by giving those who actually produce it a more equitable share of it. One mechanism that has proven effective is worker ownership of businesses. Look up the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain for a 57-year-old example. Ideology is getting in the way of intelligence on this issue.

Nate
Pleasant Grove, UT

@Roger B. Rich

The third solution is better, as long as it is an association entered into freely. If any coercion were involved, that would ruin the plan. This is the reason for my aversion to approach #2. (I'll note here that approach #2 leads just as certainly to the death of the golden goose.)

So how do you establish solution #3 without coercing it? It takes a whole community of people trying to be as virtuous as they can. Not government action, but a group of individuals acting morally, by their own choice.

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