Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

All hail the job creators

All hail the job creators

Let's be honest, America. The corporate "job creators" don't need additional tax cuts to do their job-creating magic. All they need to do is click their heels three times -- and then spend a little of the billions in cash that they're either paying to themselves or stuffing under their mattress:

In the third quarter of this year, “corporate earnings were $1.75 trillion, up 18.6% from a year ago.” Corporations are currently making more as a percentage of the economy than they ever have since such records were kept. But at the same time, wages as a percentage of the economy are at an all-time low,...

Corporations made a record $824 billion in profits last year as well, while the stock market has had one of its best performances since 1900 while Obama has been in office.

Meanwhile, workers are getting the short end of the stick. As CNN Money explained, “a separate government reading shows that total wages have now fallen to a record low of 43.5% of GDP. Until 1975, wages almost always accounted for at least half of GDP, and had been as high as 49% as recently as early 2001.”

A couple of things. Thing one -- it's not surprising that that wages were such a higher percentage of GDP in 1975, since that was right at the moment when the organized labor movement began to dramatically lose clout. How this happened -- a fascinating and also vitally important story -- is chronicled in an outstanding book that I recently completed reading called "Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class," by Jefferson Cowie. I won't digress right now into a long discussion of whether the death of organized labor was inevitable, necessary or lamentable, but no one can dispute that blue-collar Americans were better off when unions were strong.

Thing two -- as appalling as most of the so-called "fiscal cliff" debate is, it does seem like this could be a rare moment to re-write the tax code. Few would argue that -- like it or not -- our tax code is written to incentivize and reward certain activities, like owning a home or making charitable donations. This time around, it would be nice to see tax changes that punish over-the-top executive pay and reward companies that actually create jobs in the United States. I'm no tax attorney, but I'm sure smart people can figure out how to do that.

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Will Bunch
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