• Do the Math: American Economy and Society

    February 16, 2016

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: #99Percent, Economy, Minimum Wage

    When most people talk about economics there are lots of statistics, as if economics is about math. Economics is really about people. It shows who we are as a nation and tells us what we will become. In 21st century America, our hope now is that we’ll someday better people than we have become. But do the math; it’ll be a hard road.

    In its most individual definition, jobs and work earn people money. They can feed themselves and their families, live inside and all the rest.

    But at a more societal level, a broader, more fundamental level, work is more. Work can define a person, work can give purpose, make someone feel useful, engage the resources of a society, create goals. You could almost call it a soul, knowing that work saved more lives than any preacher.

    The absence of work does just the opposite. People may be saved from starving by public assistance or charity (a vital part of society, caring for one another), but without purpose, they become cynical. They turn to drugs, legal like alcohol or illegal like meth, to replace the purpose and to fill the time. Without work, people give up. Rock bottom is a poor foundation for a nation to build on.

    So here’s what is happening in our America. See if you can figure out where this all leads to.

    Manufacturing was until the late 1970s the source of unprecedented wealth, spread proportionally across the economic spectrum in America. There were super rich people, and there were poor people, but there was also a thriving middle class that accounted for a huge section of our society. Without those jobs, economic apartheid, the one percent and the 99 percent, are inevitable.

    As just one example, since the 2009 taxpayer-paid bailout, General Motors has cut high-paid workers for cheaper labor, hiring. The automaker hired around 18,000 hourly production workers, allowing the company to remove skilled trade jobs. The Center for Automotive Research says General Motors Company saves approximately $57,000 a year per worker when it replaces a skilled $32 per hour union worker with a $15 per hour less-skilled, temp or non-unionized employee. These were once the “good jobs” that sustained a growing economy. They are gone. They have been replaced with…

    Service jobs. Service jobs do not create anything. They simply move some money from one hand to another, with a larger company taking a cut and sending the cash off to another city, another state, or another country. In 2014 America, manufacturing employs 1/10 of Americans. Services accounts for nearly 90%. America’s largest single employer in 1960 was General Motors. In 2014, it is Walmart. The “occupations” that account for the most jobs now are retail salespersons, cashiers, and restaurant workers. Those jobs pay minimum wage or less (for restaurant workers who can get tips), rarely offer any benefits and are rarely full-time.

    Working for subsistence wages, supplemented with public benefits, does not create value for humans. It is a modern-day form of feudalism, or perhaps more similar to raising livestock than growing a society.

    My book, Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percentconfronts these issues head on. The book is fiction, in that it wraps the economics and societal changes of the last fifty years into the story of one family. The book is all true in that what happens to that family, and in particular the main everyman character Earl, happened to millions of American families that believed the myths of growth, hard work and a sustainable middle class even as the super wealthy were pulling the money right out of their hands in front of their eyes. Ignore the rising waters, until you feel them up to your Katrina-like lips.

    Choosing to not believe something doesn’t make it go away.

    My book is set in Ohio, but the stories in it can be taking place today anywhere in the United States outside a few pockets of affluence centered on a few major cities, or a handful of growth industries such as government and defense.

    If you want to know where the 99 percent came from, this is part of the answer. Think of it as a good story, with a conscience.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      We are experiencing economic osmosis. As our manufacturing jobs go to Mexico, we become more like Mexico. Already our economic institutions are as corrupt as Mexico’s. Our school systems are headed in that direction. Forget the Wall, Donald. We shouldn’t be worried about who is coming to America, but what is leaving.

      02/16/16 8:48 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...



      “We shouldn’t be worried about who is coming to America, but what is leaving.”

      I have always been of the belief that the border defenses (walls to the south of us and spy-drones to the north; is there a song in there somewhere?) are designed not to keep them out, but to keep us in.

      02/16/16 8:53 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      I regrettably believe that the default social structure for humankind is feudalism.

      I sense my life as a vassal is more fulfilling than it would be on the other side of the draw bridge. I’m not one for heavy tapestries. I’m a lucky vassal I guess.

      02/16/16 10:20 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The future for US is akin to “Game of Thrones” …without the winter.

      02/16/16 10:24 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Speaking of our declining school systems and global warming:

      In the first nationally representative survey of public middle- and high-school teachers in the United States, only 30 percent of teachers said they emphasize that humans are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels. Another 12 percent said they don’t mention human causes, and 31 percent said they “teach the controversy” by telling students that some scientists think climate change is human-caused, while others disagree.

      But scientists’ views on the topic don’t vary nearly as much. In fact, a survey of climate scientists published in 2009 found that 97.4 percent agree that human fossil-fuel use is the cause of global warming.

      02/16/16 10:26 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      And you can bet the War Witch Hillary has already made a deal with Wall Street to keep the course.

      It is telling the only things Hillary considers CLASSIFIED are her speeches to Goldman Sachs.

      02/16/16 10:41 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      If it comes down to Trump vs Hillary Trump would be a safer choice. He knows when to cut the bluster-he wouldn’t push for nuclear winter like a cloested lesbian would to prove her mettle against some foreign leader. We got lucky in the Cuban Missile Crisis. With Hillary holding the codes our luck could fast run out. Trump not so much.

      02/16/16 11:41 AM | Comment Link

    • Doug Barr said...


      Humanity has a fatal problem. The biggest part of it is economic. That part of the problem can only be solved by razing the vertical economy; and we need to hurry . http://thelastwhy.ca/poems/2012/12/13/economy.html

      02/16/16 11:55 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- in my thirty five years of part time teaching at two private academies I can vouch that most of the faculty were provincial thinkers. They knew the pedagogy of working with LD students but were no different from the uninformed and misinformed masses regarding the pressing issues of our times. The few who were true progressives ended up leaving in frustration. Being the artist in residence I didn’t have to interface with rigid administration daily and only recently left. The school burned down- I guess that was a sign it was time to leave.

      02/16/16 12:12 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      ALREADY At Barack bottom.

      02/16/16 12:27 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Americans can’t do math: USA no. 29 in world education rankings. Geez, as stupid as Italians.

      02/16/16 1:16 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Speaking of stupid Italians, for all those lunatics who think someone put a contract out on Fat Tony Scalia, GET OVER IT.

      02/16/16 1:19 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- gotta feed the rumor industry. Maybe someone saw a babe leaving his room a few hours before the help found him.

      02/16/16 3:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      At least it was a babe. Fat Tony so hated the gays.

      02/16/16 5:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Hope PVB is gonna write a bit about what a waste this guy was:

      “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

      In 2012, Scalia was asked by a gay student at Princeton University why he equates bestiality and murder with homosexuality and the above remark is how Scalia replied.

      02/16/16 5:25 PM | Comment Link

    • Links 17/2/2016: Vulkan 1.0, GNU C Library Vulnerability | Techrights said...


      […] Do the Math: American Economy and Society […]

      02/17/16 7:24 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Fat Tony. Hahahahaha! Rich..you’re on a roll buddy.


      Peter said:
      “So here’s what is happening in our America. See if you can figure out where this all leads to.”

      Carl Sagan had an idea where it was leading in 1995…..

      “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time… when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
      —Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, 1995

      We slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. right.

      Considering our post 9/11 freefall into the depths of an Inquisition era cesspool, I can say with all honesty..fuck Murika. I just wish I could have read this when I was 10…


      On a side note.. here is a clue to where were heading…..

      Here’s another….bet you didn’t know about this…


      Fuck AIPAC. The day THEY start telling ME what I can or can’t do is the day I…you know.


      Folks, we haven’t seen nuthin yet. Wait till the Fed’s start kickin in doors to confiscate weapons. Because it IS coming..sooner or later.

      02/17/16 7:41 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Somebody better kick down Jeb’s door. Looks like Jeb is taking his failed campaign badly:


      02/17/16 7:52 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- maybe Jeb’s message is, “If I don’t get the nomination I’ll take myself out”. Trump would supply the round,

      02/17/16 10:19 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      While “eating your gun” is commonly associated with depressed cops, more people kill themselves with their own guns than the people who are trying to kill them. So the NRA has that going for them.

      02/17/16 11:12 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      02/17/16 11:14 AM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      i suggest that theres a correlation between financial fears/realities AND lottos.
      when we get billion $ pots this should be a obvious sign that people are grasping at straws AND that government run lottos are willing to screw them in their desperation.
      jim hruska

      02/17/16 11:23 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Jim – agree- It is of course no accident that pie in the sky riches are available for just a dollar or two courtesy of the ruling elite. One can spend weeks planning what to do with such a windfall and after being disappointed then get busy anticipating what to do with the next windfall possibility. What a great way to block your rueful day to day living.

      02/17/16 1:18 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer- A regional justice declared Fat Tony dead over the phone. SNL explanation skit: Fat Tony’s head was held close to the receiver and she couldn’t detect any breathing so she declared him dead. “Hey, we’re almost in Mexico. We don’t need to see no stinkin’ body to say it’s dead…..”

      02/17/16 2:55 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Quick, somebody check Silent Clarence Thomas for a pulse.

      02/17/16 2:58 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “Working for subsistence wages, supplemented with public benefits, does not create value for humans.”

      Walmart opening a store in Hell:


      02/17/16 3:03 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer, I’m Checking Thomas right now via my remote neural monitoring device. Nope, he has robust vital signs just about everywhere – mainly the groin area – but there are no signs of neural activity above what appears to be a highly contorted neck. Must have been a result of that high tech lynching.

      02/17/16 3:39 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      John Poole said…
      “Bauer, I’m Checking Thomas right now via my remote neural monitoring device.”

      Yeah, and I’ll bet your reading it on an iPhone. Best make sure no other surveillance data is on it. Now that the FBI is squeezing Apple with finger clamps and preparing to court ordered pulling of Tim Cooks fingernails in furtherance of their determination to teach Murika who’s boss, ya might wanna consider tossing that iPhone in the ocean.

      02/17/16 6:47 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      dudes… I hafta laugh. Considering everything that is happening at this moment in time, I’m absolutely convinced a massive, world wide epidemic of brain sucking alien parasite infected human beings have now taken over every institution, media, law enforcement, governments, the Grammys and McDonalds. Thank god for 100 yr old whiskey. They’ll never take me alive.

      02/17/16 7:18 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      meanwhile, the psychos who run the Drone program have really stepped off the edge of reality…..


      God..kill this planet before the human specie has the ability to spread it’s evil in space.

      02/17/16 8:56 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Pitch- I have a tracfone which I let expire every summer when it is not needed. $21 for 90 days and 60 minutes airtime. I never carry it except in the car going to bookings for an emergency call for a taxi. I think I’ve used six minutes of time in seven years. If the NSA gets to me it will have to be through a stealth midifile floppy in my Roland sequencer.

      02/17/16 9:18 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      John Poole said…

      “If the NSA gets to me it will have to be through a stealth midifile floppy in my Roland sequencer.”


      Midifile floppy. Now THAT’S funny!

      I take it you are a keyboard player? Guitarist here.

      Had a nice studio for years. And yeah, had the midi thing happening too. Sold it all though. Except for my Tascam M3700 mixer. Can’t seem to let go of it.

      And I hear ya about the tracfone. Same here. Only used it twice in the last year. I hate phones as it is. But my wife needs it for family. If it were me alone…I wouldn’t even have one.

      02/18/16 5:17 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      One would think there would have been more coverage of SKYNET by the lapdog media. (I’m joking of course.) If The Donald gets elected, this SKYNET thing is gonna be HUUUUUUGE.

      02/18/16 7:03 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      I don’t think it is naive of most of us here to suspect that no one becomes POTUS without Pentagon vetting and approval. The Donald may be out of the loop so I doubt he would be allowed to get on the final ballot. That wuzz Obama was owned by Pentagon brass immediatley. Poor clown never had a dad so those beribboned generals became the uncles he always wanted. Gotta please your towering uncle.

      02/18/16 9:11 AM | Comment Link

    Leave A Comment

    Mail (will not be published) (required)