Comments about ‘Hard times: Despite record corporate profits, wages are being frozen’

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Published: Friday, March 21 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA

Vanceone - "The real reason companies are hoarding cash? They are terrified of the government."

Well, absolutely, and who can blame them?

The economic bubble created by the GW administration popped with a sickening pfffft that caused many businesses to go under and others to just barely hang on.

Businesses are gun shy and afraid to go out on a limb and invest. Memories of government-promoted over-exuberance during the GW Bush admnistration and the consequent economic disaster are all too vivid.

And you speak of wealth redistribution . . . Well if you read the article and other comments, you can see that wealth has been continuously redistributed from the middle class to the already wealthy since the early 1980's.

I would like to see that wealth un-redistributed back to the middle class and the poor.

Reagnomics has proven itself to be a resounding failure for middle class America.

We need to get the tax rate for the highest earners back where they should be. During the Eisenhower administration, the nominal tax rate for the highest earners was over 90%. We fought the cold war, built the interstate highway system, and still balanced the budget because we had adequate REVENUE.

Burkean
South Jordan, UT

$22 minimum wage?

So you will pay $50 for a happy meal?

Shaun
Sandy, UT

@Vanceone. The formula for the tax on workers greater than 50, assuming the company doesnt provide insurance, is typically $2000 per employee. However the first 30 employees are exempt so the company would be taxed $2000 for 20 employees not 50.

I am wondering in this political environment if any meaningful solution could actually happen.

Burkean
South Jordan, UT

The problem with Robert Reich's ideas is that they've been tried for a long time in Europe and they don't work. Yes, the income gap between the ultra-rich and the poor is smaller but that doesn't mean the poor have more economic opportunity. It just means their rich are poorer and the poor are none-the-better for it.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Burkean

I understand about the aberration of WWII. Yet Asian and European companies have a CEO to worker ratio much lower than ours and compete quite successfully in the international marketplace. Why can it work for them and not for us (even though it once did).

Value (of labor or any other item) is ALWAYS through the lens of the purchaser. Value varies. It is not intrinsic or immutable. The marketplace for labor has changed in the USA and the perceived value of labor. Some forces certainly have entered that were not here prior. But Asia and Europe are not immune.

We need to do some better analysis. The effects of a long-term impoverished working class does not bode well for a nation.

GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA

So many of you commenting blame American Liberals and Progressives as the cause of this nation's ills. The facts paint a different picture.

Face it folks, the underlying cause to most of America's problems is American "Conservatism," a regressive, knee-jerk, emotion-based, simple-minded system of governance. I'm not suggesting that all Conservatives are the same. Under the umbrella of American "Conservatism" are a whole lot of people who absolutely hate government of any kind.

And it should not be surprising to any of us that electing government-hating politicians into office can only result in terrible governance . . . which it does.

Plutocrats have a stranglehold on the Republican Party, and they have deftly propagandized a good portion of the American electorate (i.e., Republicans) into believing that giving the wealthy even more money at the expense of everybody else is good governance.

Republicans still admire Ronald Reagan, the Alzheimer's riddled President who plied his acting craft to the the benefit of plutocrats by delivering apparently heartfelt renderings of scripted performances. Limbaugh and Hannity laud each other as Great Americans, and many "Christians" despise the poor. That's Modern "Conservatism" for you.

techpubs
Sioux City, IA

The change started in the mid seventies when Executives decided on a new way to make workers think they were getting treated fairly. Basically they said that everyone would get a raise or increase in benefits based on the same percentage point.

So Joe in Assembly who made $10,000/yr got a 5% raise or $500/yr.
Pete in Engineering made $20,000/yr and got a 5% raise or $1,000/yr.
Jeff the Sales Manager who made $60,000/yr also got $5% or $3,000/yr.
And Ed the President made $100,000/yr and got 5% or $5,000/yr.

Then when the second year 5% raises were figured Joe got 5% of his now $10,500/yr or $525/yr while Ed got 5% of his now $105,000/yr or $5250/yr.
And by year 6 Joe is making $12,763.28 while Ed is making $127,628 so the difference in their 5% raise will now be $5743 instead of the original $4500. If the 5% raises continue over a 36 year career Ed will be getting a raise equal to Joe's salary in the 36th year.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

Burkean
South Jordan, UT
$22 minimum wage?

So you will pay $50 for a happy meal?

10:44 a.m. March 21, 2014

=======

If it take 2 hours to make a Happy Meal,
Then you are not only a lousy Fast Food resuraant,
But you deserve to be out of business!

[FYI - a happy meal takes less than 60 seconds to put together. Going from $7.25 to $22.00 an hour increase labor cost goes from .12 cents to .35 cents. The additional $45 you are suggesting will happen would of course then go onto the Billionaires who have already been keeping the profits.]

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

techpubs,

If you inflate each salary at 5% compounded annually, the ratios do not change.

In year 36 Ed (President) makes $551,602. Joe (Assembly) makes $55,160. The ratios are the same as they were in year 1. Ed still makes precisely 10 times what Joe does.

Did I miss something?

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The only thing that will bring back the proper balance between wages and profits is the restoration of the proper market for labor. Business interests have cheated the American worker by flooding the market with foreign labor. The prevailing opinion that we have a free market, government cannot force business to share properly and as we have seen, government cannot bribe business to hire people at proper wages.

We need a new employer on the scene and took up the slack in the labor market. Barring some kind of miracle, only the government itself could do that kind of mass action. The government should hire every unemployed worker at a proper salary. Doing so would end unemployment and its undesirable effects and costs.

The cost of the unemployed is being paid by the American taxpayers in general when it should be paid for by the business activity of businesses in the USA. By further manipulations by business to lower wages, business is stealing more of the employed worker's money to care for the unemployed. So, to restore the cost of people to where it belongs a tax would be placed on all American business.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Businessmen make their business decisions on the amount of profit, not on how efficiently they made the profit nor how many people contributed nor the margin of profit. A million dollars profit spends just the same if it takes 1 employ to make it or 1,000,000 employs.

The wages paid for labor has little to do with the value of the labor. Wages are paid to workers according to the supply and demand for workers. If we add a million doctors to the medical industry, the cost of hiring a doctor would go way down. If we reduce the number of doctors the cost of hiring a doctor would go way up. In either case the qualifications of doctors might be the same and the value of fixing a broken finger the same also.

Taylor
Orem, UT

Nice op-ed piece, and a lot of interesting comments. The author could have made her point if she had included some footnotes for all her statistics. She said average wages climbed 5% since 1979. When I also graduated in the 1970s, minimum wage was around $2.30; was it possibly between $2-$4 by 1979? Now, the minimum wage is what, $7.50? She made good points, but with confusing statistics like that, she decimated her credibility. Perhaps with inflation? Who knows. Too bad, because we could agree with a lot of her points. She definitely should have included some sources for her "information".

Has anyone ever considered the income redistribution that is going on? That a lot of income that should go to the workers actually producing goods goes into the hands of a very few? Nobody recognizes that as income redistribution? And those folks seem to control legislators, tax subsidies, and a lot more? I believe we should abandon the one-sided discussion of income redistribution.

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

Walmart had a food drive last Thanksgiving for its employees. It was a success. We should be grateful that the retail giant sees that its employees need help and can encourage others to help them. That's what makes America great!

We're a very generous nation. I think Walmart could partner with food pantries and other social services to encourage more community involvement to give to their employees.

Think of it as communities "giving back" to all those Walmart employees who work hard to allow us to buy stuff cheap from China.

cmsense
Kaysville, UT

We could raise the minimum wage say a buck an hour. It has been awhile.
Also, some families have two worker's who both qualify for healthcare benefits. Currently, you have to choose one or the other, and the one you don't choose the employer keeps the money they would of kicked in to subsidize it. Why not give employees the option of taking that money in wages or say retirement benefits, if they can prove they have health insurance through their spouse.
Since "non profits" get huge tax advantages and should be for the public good and we would hope their directors would work more out of altruism than greed, it seems reasonable their directors or CEO's shouldn't make a killing especially when they ask for donations. How about such a rule (it has to be as simple as possible) as they can't make more than the President of the United States, or 15xs the poverty rate for a family of 4 (24Kx15), or 10x's the average wage of their workers.
For 100% private companies no regulations of wages are needed.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"Walmart had a food drive last Thanksgiving for its employees."

I would not fault anyone for trying to help.

The theme of your posts is that Walmart is encouraging others others in the community to help the Walmart employees.

But, isn't it just a bit sad that people who are employed by one of the largest corporations in the world have trouble putting food on their table?

The CEO of walmart makes an hourly wage comparable to what his new employees make in a year.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Mountman:

I don't really see hundreds of applicants for a single job at Wal-Mart as a good thing. It suggests a lot of unemployment and underemployment. I don't see them paying pittance wages because hundreds of applicants applying as a good thing either. If most of these jobs are adults trying to feed their families on these wages, I don't see this as a good thing. If most of these jobs are so low paying that these adults with families have to get government subsidies to basically survive, I don't see that as a good thing either. I also don't see as a good thing agreeing too much with the Senator of Vermont (Bernie Sanders) who has said it is time to stop subsidizing Wal-Mart.

I do believe in responsible capitalism. I wonder if any Wal-Mart would go out of business if it raised its wages of its lowest paying employees to $10 an hour. I doubt it. But I think they could get happier, more productive employees that might have some more cash to spend in our economy which helps us all.

Brer Rabbit
Spanish Fork, UT

I don't see anyone addressing the real cause of low stagnant wages. Wages like anything else are a product of supply and demand. Wages especially at the lower levels are stuck because of a large surplus of labor. Not hard to understand.

The cause of this labor surplus has been increasing for several generations. The causes are: 1) Mechanization, 2) Automation, 3) Globalization with millions of factory jobs off-shored to cheap labor countries, and 4)Allowing a flood of legal and illegal labor into the United States in competition with America workers for both low and middle income jobs.

The world economics has dramatically and become more global the past two decades. Not much can be done about jobs lost to 1-3 from above, but it is not necessary to flood the labor markets with cheap immigrant labor, which is causing depressed wages and high unemployment.

Those who claim to want to improve wages, especially at low income levels, but still support amnesty, legalization, more visas, or even the presently high number of visas and illegal workers are a big part of the problem. Reduce immigrant labor and wages will increase, as the labor market tightens.

freedomingood
provo, Utah

I'm sure the Lord wants 80% of his blessings to go to 1% of his children.

Walmart has 100's of applicants for every position. Because nobody wants to work in America anymore we're told, we're just takers.

Please take half of my $15,000 a year Walmart job in taxes so I can sleep better at night Mitt Romney.

gmlewis
Houston, TX

I wonder if the CEO:worker ratio in America is so high because corporations are so much bigger now than they were in 1965. Merger fever has been intense for decades. How many major banks existed in 1965 than we have today?

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

Most of are missing a very important reason Walmart exists. It provides less expensive goods that poor people could not access otherwise. There is a reason poor people do not often shop at Nordstrom.

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