For the past few years, I have pointed out that the economy is an ecosystem and that, as in any ecosystem, when one set of participants begins hogging a huge percentage of the overall resources, other participants get weaker or die and the whole ecosystem becomes unstable.
Eventually, if the hogging becomes too overwhelming, the ecosystem may collapse.
(Think an algae-choked pond in which all light and oxygen gets consumed by one particularly rapacious plant.)
Specifically, I have observed that, over the past three decades, more and more of this country’s wealth and income have been consumed by a small percentage of the population — for lack of a better term, “the 10%” — while everyone else has gotten hosed.
I have also observed that what’s wrong with this picture — aside from romantic notions of sharing, teamwork, et al. — is that the 90% of the people in the country who are getting screwed are actually the customers of the companies owned by the 10%. And, therefore, that by paying themselves as much as possible, and paying the 90% as little as possible, the 10% are, in fact, impoverishing their own customers.
At some point, when the 10% have finished extracting every ounce of wealth from the 90%, the 90% will simply have no money with which to buy the products and services of the 10% — at which point, the companies owned by the 10% will collapse.
(Before that, though, we might also have a revolution, political or other. Economic inequality and desperation like the kind we are developing has triggered many of those throughout history.)
Whenever I point all this out, of course, I get pelted with fruit and garbage by the 10%, who say, in effect, “You get what you deserve. If the 90% are unhappy, they should stop being so lazy and get to work.”
I would respectfully suggest that it has apparently been a while since the members of the 10% who say this have had to try to support families by working two jobs at McDonald’s and Pizza Hut for $US8 an hour and that “laziness” is not actually the causal agent here. But that’s another argument.
Anyway, today, to avoid getting pelted with fruit and garbage, I’ll try a different tack.
Specifically, I’ll congratulate the 10% for their ongoing drubbing of the “other team” in our economy, the hapless 90%. A few more years like this, and the game will be over, and the 10% can high-five their way into the sunset. (Though they may have to move fast, to outrun the torches and pitchforks).
Way to go, capital! You’re totally crushing labour! You’ve reduced your workers’ wages so much that wages have hit an all-time low as a percentage of the economy! Meanwhile, your profits have hit an all-time high! Today’s jobs report confirmed it! Yes, you’ve had to give a few more people jobs, but for the past 5 years you’ve held their wage growth down to a tiny 2% and falling! Over the past 30 years, you’ve captured an astonishing 90% of the growth in incomes in this country! Admire the charts below and toast your great work. You’re killing it!
WAGES AS A PER CENT OF THE ECONOMY (lowest in history)
CORPORATE PROFITS AS A PER CENT OF THE ECONOMY (highest ever)
WAGE GROWTH (flat and low for five years)
INCOME SHARE OF THE 10% (the highest in history except for 1929)