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More than Wal-Mart (Where American Families Cannot Make Ends Meet)

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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:20 AM
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More than Wal-Mart (Where American Families Cannot Make Ends Meet) /

WAL-MART is usefully becoming the symbol of an America where tens of millions of hard- working families cannot make ends meet.

Its wages and health benefits are so dismal that in several states Wal-Mart displaces worker healthcare costs onto tax-supported Medicaid for the poor. Wal-Mart batters down wages not just in the United States, but in Third World countries, where it plays foreign suppliers against one another to demand the lowest possible wholesale price (and wage).

The New York Times reported recently that Democratic politicians from Senator Joseph Lieberman to his winning opponent in the Connecticut primary, Ned Lamont, are making Wal-Mart their nemesis. This focus is certainly helpful in spotlighting one mega-employer that is symbol and substance of an America where the middle-class dream is vanishing, but the problems go far beyond Wal-Mart.

The America of a generation ago had multiple institutions for enabling worker incomes to rise with their rising productivity. More industries were regulated. The federal minimum wage was equal to about half the average wage; today, it is below one - third. The federal government actually enforced workers' right to organize a union. Nearly half of US workers were covered by decent, federally guaranteed pensions, instead of funny-money worker-savings plans. Wall Street was more tightly regulated, and corporate executives were not able to grab such an outlandish share of the total pie. Taxation was progressive, and ordinary workers paid much lower rates. We did not trade with countries that had something close to slave labor, like the Chinese factory system.

Since the mid-1970s, under three Republican presidents and too- often-feeble Democratic ones, this social compact was blown up. Since the early 1970s, real incomes for the top 1 percent have doubled, while earnings for most Americans have stagnated. Middle-class Americans have stayed even only thanks to a second wage-earner -- an average increase of more than 500 annual work hours per household. This is a disguised loss in living standards, cutting into leisure and parenting time, and incurring child-care and transportation costs.

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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:25 AM
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1. With no magic 8 year reprieve during the 1990s either
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Tanner_B. Donating Member (52 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:25 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. NOPE...
...that was a republican, too.
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newyawker99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 05:40 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Tanner_B.!!
Welcoe to DU!! :toast:
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