(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Sunday, September 01, 2002

I'm working up some Labor Day thoughts for tomorrow, for those to whom the holiday means something more than barbeque and the end of summer. Though these thoughts are grand in my head, they will probably be more measly on the computer screen.

But for now, the thoughts are about the Economic Policy Institute's new report, "The State of Working America 2002-2003" (available here, and brought to my attention by David Broder this morning). It is well worth reading at least the Executive Summary to get a fair picture of how things are actually going for real people; it's quite different from the blissful line that we are fed, to the effect that we are all corporate shareholders now. The rich get much richer, the not-rich work harder and longer with more stress. While it's not all bad news, there's plenty of bad news, for instance this quote from the Executive Summary: "In 1965, CEOs made 26 times more than a typical worker; this ratio had risen to 72-to-1 by 1989 and to 310-to-1 by 2000". Here's another: "The wealthiest 1% of all households control about 38% of national wealth, while the bottom 80% of households hold only 17%. The ownership of stocks is particularly unequal. The top 1% of stock owners hold almost half (47.7%) of all stocks, by value, while the bottom 80% own just 4.1% of total stock holdings." This is the kind of report that makes me wish I had taken an Economics class in college. For now, I just have to read the Executive Summary, and hope that MaxSpeak can continue to fill in the gaps in my education.

Here's a preview of the Labor Day message, also quoting from the Executive Summary: "Unionization provides an 11.5% wage advantage to workers. However, the union edge is even greater for benefits, with union workers far more likely than non-union workers to receive health insurance and pension coverage from their employers. Moreover, union workers have better health plans with lower deductibles and less cost sharing, and are provided more paid time off, including three more days of vacation." More on this tomorrow.

posted by sam 3:38 PM 0 comments


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