More Signs Of Decay In America


The bad news just keeps rolling in. Keeping up with it is almost a full-time job. Here’s a recent sample featuring wage slaves, vanishing pensions and soaring health care costs.

1. It’s Not Too Late To Revive Slavery

A recent report notes that it’s not enough to create jobs. You’ve also got to create jobs which pay a living wage. Imagine that! What are these guys? Socialists? From Not getting by on minimum wage (September 27, 2011)—

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Most experts agree that to get out of the economic slump, we need more jobs.

But another problem is that millions of Americans already have jobs that don’t pay very much.

Getting the economy going will require more than just creating a large number of low-wage positions, said Paul Osterman, economics professor at MIT. Raising the minimum wage to get more cash to the working poor is just as crucial, he said.

About 20% of American adults who have jobs are earning only $10.65 an hour or less, according to Osterman’s analysis. Even at 40 hours a week, that amounts to less than $22,314, the poverty level for a family of four.

The federal minimum wage currently stands at $7.25 an hour (18 states set their own rates above the federal level, maxing out at $8.67 an hour in Washington State).

Here’s the kicker.

But increases have not kept up with inflation. When adjusted for inflation, the highest federal minimum wage was in 1968, when it was the equivalent of $10.38 in today’s dollars

With a greater percentage of the nation’s income going to corporate profits than ever before, Osterman argues that businesses can afford a higher minimum wage.

“There needs to be standards in the job market,” he said. “If the object is simply to minimize costs, we can use slaves again.”

2. Your Vanishing Pension

The Daily Ticker recently reported on the Retirement Heist! — U.S. Pensions Plundered By Corporate Greed, Author Says (video below).

As if the average worker didn’t have enough to worry about, Ellen Schultz, an award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter and author of Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, says that in some instances the fat paychecks of the top paid executives are coming directly out of the pocket of average workers.

“As recently as a decade ago there was a trillion dollars, a quarter of a trillion in surplus assets,” in corporate funds, Schultz tells The Daily Ticker’s Aaron Task in the accompanying clip. “There was plenty of money in pension plans; there was plenty to pay the benefits but corporations went about taking the money away.”

… Schultz believes this was no accident, claiming corporations have been “exaggerating their retiree burdens” and plundering retirement plans in a variety of ways, including:

  • Siphon billions of dollars from their pension plans to finance downsizings and sell the assets in merger deals.
  • Overstate the burden of rank-and-file retiree obligations to justify benefits cuts, while simultaneously using the savings to inflate executive pay and pensions.

And so on… Corporate big shots are stealing worker pension funds and then reducing their retirement benefits. It’s really very simple, the opposite of complicated. It’s not a head-scratcher. No need to pore over the details. What did George Carlin say about corporate big shots?

They want obedient workers. Obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension which disappears the minute you go to collect it…

The American Dream, folks. Of course, you’ve got to asleep to believe it.

3. If You Shoot Yourself In The Head…

McClatchy Newspapers reports that job-based health insurance premiums have risen sharply this year.

WASHINGTON — After modest increases last year, the cost of job-based health insurance for families and individuals has jumped sharply this year, even though insurers are paying less in benefits as cash-strapped American workers opt for less medical care.

For the estimated 150 million workers with employer-sponsored coverage, the average cost of family health insurance jumped 9 percent this year to $15,073, while the price of individual coverage rose 8 percent to $5,429.

Both increases are the largest since 2005.

Click to enlarge.

And when McClatchy says this—

Each far outpaced a national 2 percent hike in wages and a 3.2 percent rise in inflation, according to an annual survey of nearly 2,100 businesses that the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust released Tuesday.

you should bear in mind that it is nearly a certainty that the wages of working Americans have not increased this year, while those of the top wage-earners did.

All is not lost. You can avoid these soaring health care costs. My solution? If you shoot yourself in the head, you won’t have to pay those rising premiums. If you don’t own a gun, be creative!

Bonus Video


Decline of the Empire