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Is our problem that, like the Japanese emperor,  Gov. Nixon has been sleeping with the Sun Goddess?  Is that the reason that new college grads are facing a job seeker’s stone wall and that former shift supervisors are working part time at Home Depot and Hardee’s in an attempt to make the mortgage payments?

Or is it something more insidious, like, say, a thirty year trend of rising military spending, rising CEO pay, rising Wall Street bonuses, rising gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us, rising productivity, rising poverty rates among children, rising dropout rates?

An AP article points toward the latter explanation. Seems that a barely-worth-mentioning 1% of economic growth after the Great Recession has gone to wages and salaries. 88% of growth went to corporate profits. The proportion is 88 to one? It didn’t always used to be like that. The last three recessions illustrate the pattern of change. 1991-92 is an anomaly (that I’d like somebody to explain), but the trend is clear: corporations are getting richer and they ain’t concerned about the rest of us.

Percent of economic growth that went to:


                 

Wages and Salaries                                           Corporate Profits


1981-82                                        

25%                                                            28%

1991-92        

50%                                                           none

2001    

15%                                                            53%

2008-11

1%                                                             88%

The trends above are national, but they are abetted at the state level by the course that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) tells Republican state legislators to steer. And boy howdy, do they steer it ALEC’s way in Missouri: cut funds for schools, for example, and then complain about lazy teachers with tenure who do an ineffective job–all this in hopes of eventually privatizing school systems that the wealthy would run. And the excuse given for cutting school funding is that the state is broke.  

Of course it is. We haven’t changed the state’s top tax rate since the thirties. It’s $9,000. Which means that some poor sucker earning $8,999 is paying the same rate of tax to the state as the CEO of Express Scripts. Democratic leadership in this state moans about how broke the state is. Why not howl, instead, about a solution voters would love. By a margin of two to one, U.S. voters, in poll after poll, support raising taxes on incomes over 250 thou a year. Even 43% of Republicans approve the idea. Democrats should be baying at the moon. They need to find a way to present a united front and smack Missouri voters upside the head with the notion that if they were in the majority in the state house, they would work to see taxes raised on the wealthiest.

Let Claire run the Medicare ads; that’s a federal issue. But our state legislators have a winner on the tax issue if they would grab it.

Because in the end, those hateful trends I mentioned won’t change without lots more progressives in office, both at the federal and state level. Getting Gov. Nixon to kick the Sun Goddess out of bed isn’t going to cut it.