Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 10 Num. 65

("Quid coniuratio est?")


Supposedly, based on a barrage of reports this last week or so from bought-and-paid-for "news" sources, this year's college graduating class are lords of the job market, waited on by eager employers. The reports were tailored, with graduates from select disciplines, like electrical engineering and computer science, telling the camera about several job offers they have to choose from. Not seen on-camera were liberal arts majors, but we were told the jobs bonanza was "trickling down" to them also. And probably the prospects are a little better this year for college graduates -- but does that justify the massive "news orgasm" last week on the subject?

What the real story is, is that after years of corporations having downsized away their aging workforce, they are at the moment hiring back a workforce (but not the same one now rusting into old age.) The new hires are younger and presumably being paid generally less, on average and in real dollars, than the old-fashioned model of worker they replace. It would be interesting to compare figures: number of workers downsized vs. current, momentary, new hires. Also worth comparing would be average salary in real dollars of former, discarded workers vs. their replacements.

Thankfully, the alternative press has facts out that tweak the corporate press's recent self-congratulatory outburst and throw cold water on detested virtual-reality newsfaces like Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings.

The June 1997 issue of The Progressive magazine has remarks made by Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, during a recent (March 1997) House Banking Subcommittee hearing. Here are excerpts:

SANDERS: Welcome, Mr. Greenspan.
This January, you told the Senate Budget Committee that "the appropriate capital-gains tax is zero." Currently, many Senate Republicans are calling for a capital-gains tax cut.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy priorities, 70 percent of the benefits of that tax cut will go to households earning over $100,000 a year. Mr. Greenspan, I will grant you consistency in your support for trickle-down economics. In your career up to today, it is clear that you have advocated tax and monetary policies which have benefited the very richest Americans while at the same time your views reflect policies that come down very heavily on the middle class, the working class, and low-income people.
In 1983, you were appointed to chair, as I understand it, the Social Security Commission. Under your leadership, the highly regressive payroll taxes increased by about $200 billion. You chose to solve the Social Security crisis by raising the payroll tax on working Americans while at the same time, as an economic adviser, you advocated huge tax decreases for the richest people in America. Now currently, you are a proponent of reducing the Consumer Price Index. I have neighbors and friends and elderly people who are trying to survive on $7,000 or $8,000 a year.
And I regard it as horrendous and vulgar, to be frank with you, that there are people in government who want to balance the budget on the weakest and most vulnerable people in this society, and then advocate huge tax breaks for the richest people in this country, as you continuously do.
Mr. Greenspan, the United States of America today -- not all through your work but through the help of a lot of other people, both parties -- has the most unfair distribution of wealth and income in the industrialized world.
The richest 1 percent of the population owns 42 percent of the wealth, more than the bottom 90 percent. In 1976, the wealthiest 1 percent owned 19 percent of the wealth. So we've seen the upper 1 percent more than double the percentage of the wealth in this country that they own. You talk about economic growth. Between 1983 and 1989, 62 percent of the increased wealth in this country went to the richest 1 percent. You can have all the growth that you want, but the middle class continues to shrink. I'd love to take you to the state of Vermont, where you can talk to working families where workers are working two or three jobs trying to pay their bills, where women who would prefer to stay home with the kids are now being forced to work, where jobs in our economy which used to pay $15 an hour in manufacturing are now paying $5 an hour for McDonalds.
But more importantly, during the past twenty years, we have seen a decline in wages or stagnation for 80 percent of all American families, while the people on top have never had it so good. Twenty years ago, American workers were the best compensated in the world. Today, we rank thirteenth in the world.
You come to the state of Vermont with me, and I will take you around our state. And I would love to hear the response when you tell the working families of our state that the economy is doing very well.

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