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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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A “Jobless Recovery” on Earth and the Future of Workers on Mars

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Happy Labor Day!

And what better time than this annual celebration of America's working stiffs to draw attention to our national economic recovery?

As those attached to the Dow Jones Average can attest, the economy is now perking along quite nicely, with the Dow up 57 percent since the dark days of 2009, presently soaring above 13,000. Also, the nation's pile of wealth has grown impressively, executive paychecks have zoomed back up to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah levels, and sales at stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue are absolutely crackerjack!

The only little cloud over this otherwise sunshiny recovery is ... well, you. You people for whom Labor Day is named, that is.

Not only did Wall Street's crash knock jobs, wages, benefits, homeownership and middle-class opportunities into the ditch, but they're still stuck there — and even sinking lower. Yet the financial elites, political establishment and media powers remain rapturously focused on the Dow, uncaring about the precipitous decline in the Doug Jones Average.

If Doug and Donna aren't prospering, neither is America, no matter how much wealth the privileged few are lavishing on luxury goods or socking away in offshore tax havens.

The stark status of the Doug was dramatically highlighted in an Aug. 24 report from the Labor Department on laid-off workers. Of the 6.1 million Americans who lost stable jobs since 2009, when the "recovery" officially began, nearly half are still out of work.

Also, more than half of those who did find jobs took big hits in pay, thus whacking their families' standard of living and holding back the economy's critically needed revival of consumer spending.

Those who've been knocked down are mostly not low-skilled poor people, but middle-class folks like Andrew McMenemy, whose software firm pulled the plug on his $80,000-a-year high-tech job in 2010. He has finally found another job, but it pays under $20,000 a year, with no benefits. At 53 years of age, McMenemy has had to move in with his father.

Knocking down the middle class is economically stupid, socially dangerous and morally wrong. The fact is that today's corporate and political leaders are wretchedly bad gardeners — by tending to the moneyed few and ignoring America's workaday majority, they're watering the weeds and pulling the flowers.

Where's that going to lead us? Don't look now, but according to a slew of corporate executives, government policy-makers and media cheerleaders, our future is on Mars. Not that we have to move there, but we're told we can see the future in NASA's lovable Mars rover, named "Curiosity." It's presently scooting around the red planet with human-like dexterity and abilities.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, a Philips Electronics plant in the Netherlands has 128 Curiosity-styled robots making electric shavers. They are doing the same work that it takes 10 times that many humans to.

As an Aug. 19 New York Times article marveled, the arms of these techno-creatures "work with yoga-like flexibility ... well beyond the capability of the most dexterous human." Plus, exclaimed the Times, "they do it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year."

Corporations have hundreds of fully robotized manufacturing plants already in operation or planned, employing robots that are far more sophisticated than the ones pioneered by the auto industry. The manager of the Philips factory says, "(With these robots,) we can make any consumer device in the world."

Indeed, Apple's iPhone-maker in China plans to install more than a million robots to displace untold numbers of workers there. Likewise, robots are now assembling Boeing's wide-body jets, packing California lettuce in shipping boxes, making Hyundai and Tesla cars, and operating our nation's largest grocery warehouse. The Times says flatly: "This is the future."

Oh? So, what are millions of displaced human workers to do? No one knows. Worse, there's no planning for or even thinking about planning for the human future. Instead, we're getting balderdash and BS from such high-tech camp followers as Times columnist Tom Friedman, who recently gushed about the robot revolution: "This is the march of progress."

Embrace the robot economy, we're told, for it will "make America more competitive."

"More competitive" for whom and to what end? Too often, we've seen the power elites wave the flag of "progress" as they march right over the well-being of the many — and here they come again.

Millions of unwitting working families are about to be displaced by this autocratic and avaricious rush for robotic profits. Now is the time to start a national debate on the true cost of this shift — and to demand that we humans be factored into their "revolution."

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

5 Comments | Post Comment
This 2004 study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) offers this view of reality. And let's not forget that Obama was a senator in 2004 so that all this data was available to him.
• Taxes paid by highest incomes
• The top 1% [of income-earners] pay 22.7% of taxes.
• The top 10% pay 50% of taxes.
• The top 20% pay 65.3% of taxes
• The top 40% pay 84.3% of taxes.
• Taxes paid by lowest incomes
• The bottom 20% [of income-earners] pay 1.1% of taxes.
• The bottom 40% pay 6.1% of taxes.
The bottom 40% pay about 6% of taxes, while the top 40% pay about 85% of taxes -- or about 14 times more than their counterparts in the lower brackets. But in light of the constant droning that "the rich don't pay their fair share," how many expected the distribution reported in the CBO paper?
Here are some facts from Stephen Moore, who wrote "The U.S. Tax System: Who Really Pays?" in August 2012. Interestingly, Moore begins his study with a 1963 quote from John F. Kennedy (emphasis mine):
It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today, and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the tax rates. ... [A]n economy constrained by high tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance the budget, just as it will never create enough jobs or enough profits.
Isn't it ironic that Kennedy got it in 1963, but Obama doesn't get it today?
Neither does Jim.
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Sat Sep 1, 2012 10:50 AM
This is ridiculous. The media has been obsessing about President Obama's plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—from 35% to 39.6%—even asking if that makes him a Socialist.
But do you know what tax rate the wealthiest Americans paid on the top portion of their earnings at the end of Ronald Reagan's first term? 50%.
Under Richard Nixon? 70%. Under Dwight Eisenhower? 91%!
Shocking, right?
And for all the whining about rolling back Bush's irresponsible tax cuts, the truth is that Obama's plan cuts taxes for 95% of working Americans. Further, it closes huge tax loopholes for oil companies, hedge funds and corporations that ship jobs overseas so that we can invest in the priorities that will get our economy back on track.

So here's the Top Tax Rates on Regular Income and Top Tax Rates on Capital Gains Income going back to '44. Don't forget, the wealthy were living very large, the middle class became the middle class, and the economy was doing great. Everyone prospered under high tax rates.
Reg inc. rate. Capital gains
916 15.0 % 15.0 %
1917 67.0 % 67.0 %
1918 77.0 % 77.0 %
1919 73.0 % 73.0 %
1920 73.0 % 73.0 %
1921 73.0 % 73.0 %
1922 58.0 % 12.5 %
1923 43.5 % 12.5 %
1924 46.0 % 12.5 %
1925 25.0 % 12.5 %
1926 25.0 % 12.5 %
1927 25.0 % 12.5 %
1928 25.0 % 12.5 %
1929 24.0 % 12.5 %
1930 25.0 % 12.5 %
1931 25.0 % 12.5 %
1932 63.0 % 12.5 %
1933 63.0 % 12.5 %
1934 63.0 % 31.5 %
1935 63.0 % 31.5 %
1936 78.0 % 39.0 %
1937 78.0 % 39.0 %
1938 78.0 % 30.0 %
1939 78.0 % 30.0 %
1940 78.0 % 30.0 %
1941 80.0 % 30.0 %
1942 88.0 % 25.0 %
1943 88.0 % 25.0 %
1944 94.0 % 25.0 %
1945 94.0 % 25.0 %
1946 86.5 % 25.0 %
1947 86.5 % 25.0 %
1948 82.1 % 25.0 %
1949 82.1 % 25.0 %
1950 84.4 % 25.0 %
1951 91.0 % 25.0 %
1952 91.0 % 25.0 %
1953 91.0 % 25.0 %
1954 91.0 % 25.0 %
1955 91.0 % 25.0 %
1956 91.0 % 25.0 %
1957 91.0 % 25.0 %
1958 91.0 % 25.0 %
1959 91.0 % 25.0 %
1960 91.0 % 25.0 %
1961 91.0 % 25.0 %
1962 91.0 % 25.0 %
1963 91.0 % 25.0 %
1964 91.0 % 25.0 %
1965 70.0 % 25.0 %
1966 70.0 % 25.0 %
1967 70.0 % 25.0 %
1968 75.3 % 26.9 %
1969 77.0 % 27.5 %
1970 73.5 % 32.3 %
1971 65.0 % 34.3 %
1972 60.0 % 36.5 %
1973 60.0 % 36.5 %
1974 60.0 % 36.5 %
1975 60.0 % 36.5 %
1976 60.0 % 39.9 %
1977 60.0 % 39.9 %
1978 60.0 % 39.0 %
1979 60.0 % 28.0 %
1980 60.0 % 28.0 %
1981 60.0 % 23.7 %
1982 50.0 % 20.0 %
1983 50.0 % 20.0 %
1984 50.0 % 20.0 %
1985 50.0 % 20.0 %
1986 50.0 % 20.0 %
1987 38.5 % 28.0 %
1988 28.0 % 28.0 %
1989 28.0 % 28.0 %
1990 28.0 % 28.0 %
1991 31.0 % 28.0 %
1992 31.0 % 28.0 %
1993 40.0 % 28.0 %
1994 40.0 % 28.0 %
1995 40.0 % 28.0 %
1996 40.0 % 28.0 %
1997 40.0 % 20.0 %
1998 40.0 % 20.0 %
1999 40.0 % 20.0 %
2000 40.0 % 20.0 %
2001 39.1 % 20.0 %
2002 38.6 % 20.0 %
2003 35.0 % 15.0 %
2004 35.0 % 15.0 %
2005 35.0 % 15.0 %
2006 35.0 % 15.0 %
2007 35.0 % 15.0 %
2008 35.0 % 15.0 %
2009 35.0 % 20.0 %
2010 35.0 % 20.0 %
2011 40.0 % 20.0 %
2012 40.0 % 20.0 %
Comment: #2
Posted by: morgan
Sat Sep 1, 2012 5:32 PM
Decided to post all the way back to 1916. For those who know our history, it's interesting to check the top tax rates as affects the growth of the country, personal wealth, and infrastructure.
Comment: #3
Posted by: morgan
Sat Sep 1, 2012 5:36 PM
Re: morgan. Nice. Cheers, Masako.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Masako
Mon Sep 3, 2012 5:29 PM
People high or low dont pay tax "rates" they pay taxes.Why is is surprising the people with the most money pay most of the taxes?Do you expect those with no money to pay the most taxes? You probable do!
Comment: #5
Posted by: WILLIAM KELLEY
Tue Sep 4, 2012 11:57 PM
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