Saturday, August 6, 2016
Profits Up, Wages Down... And A Shrinking Middle Class
The recent uptick in real wage growth, however long or brief it might be, is most likely spread between the bottom tier and top tier jobs, and even then mostly in the top tier. As a percentage of our total workforce, that area of job creation can hardly be expected to make huge contributions, even assuming it too continues for any length of time.
Meanwhile, that part of the American economy that has almost always represented the backbone of generational advancement is disappearing. Without a middle class, the dreams of parents, and their children, to be able to do better becomes ever more hollow. And as statistics are already showing, not only are fewer of us are able to own a home, but it's likely for most of us to be increasingly unable to take on the debt that would educate us into that upper tier of technical employment.
At some point here we're going to have to face the fact that the problem is the system itself. Having now become electrified, and accelerating an ever upward spiral of competition, the long term trend can hardly be expected to favor a growth in jobs that can pay something even a little bit more than a basic living wage; not when the number of people who need employment keep growing at the same time that the competitive viability of human skill keeps falling. Ever advancing technological capability you see has a form of collateral damage all its own when it comes to the value of skill as a commodity.
What we are faced with here is the fundamental requirement to rethink how the production, and distribution, of material need, and wellbeing, is conducted. The current operating system's model of commercialized labor and consumptive distribution via money is simply no longer viable. The productive machine that technology has created now is able to produce far more than human skill as a commodity can ever hope to pay for. This basic contradiction has ever fewer producers scrambling frantically, mostly with cost reductions, to counter that fact, which only serves to make matters worse in the long run with just another drag on wages. It is simply untenable and unsustainable.
The sooner we face this the sooner we can start working on the alternative.