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IS THIS RECOVERY? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 04 July 2013

IS THIS RECOVERY?

By Jim Jordal

 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 KJV

Does what we’re now experiencing constitute real recovery from the Recession of 2008? Not if you view the statistics on unemployment, underemployment and part-time employment. Not if you count the homeless persons wandering the streets of large cities. Not if you count food shelf participants. And not if you sit at the meager dinner tables of countless discouraged families.

What has gone wrong? Simply, this recovery belongs to the top half of the population. The other half has been left behind. The surging stock market benefits the owning class, not the owing class. Whatever jobs there are go to either college graduates or to people willing to work in service industries for miniscule wages. The living-wage manufacturing jobs that formerly created and supported a healthy middle class are gone the way of the dodo bird, destroyed by automation, the computer revolution, offshoring, various trade agreements like NAFTA, and the simple greed of "casino capitalism" practiced by large banks, investment funds, global business giants, and star-quality CEOs.

For example, the web site "Too Much" of June 3 reports that executive compensation in the U.S. now averages 354 times the wage of the average worker. In Norway it’s 16 times as much. Why? Because over the past generation acts of Congress coupled with Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United of 2010 have opened the door to a trashing of labor and the cruel fact that real wages of labor (corrected for inflation) are less then they were in 1970. With the impending destruction of the middle class comes a massive transfer of wealth from the working class to the owning class. Now plutocrats can use their money to influence legislation as never before, virtually without restriction.

And it only gets worse. The U.S. is now the only developed nation with a high and rising level of income and wealth inequality. Yet when anyone seriously complains they are met with the cries of the ultra-rich that someone is attempting to steal their hard-earned wealth. Witness the screams of impending disaster when last year the top federal tax rate was raised from 35 to 39.6 percent. But the sky hasn’t fallen nor have multitudes of the wealthy taken up foreign residence; they know where the advantages lie.

No, it’s the other way around. It’s the poor who must relocate to where the jobs (if any) are, like booming North Dakota. It’s the poor who lack powerful advocates able to turn things around. It’s the poor whose voices are ignored in Congress and the boardrooms of America. And it’s the poor who are continually blamed for any and every social problem.

Notice in the Scripture above that the writer of Ecclesiastes (probably Solomon) believes that for many it really would be better if they had never existed than that they would have to endure the oppressions occasioned by human greed and hubris. He says the poor have no comforters, and that on the side of their oppressors is great power. Remember that this commentary comes from Solomon, one of the richest persons of history. Evidently somewhere along the line God brought him to the knowledge that what he had was a gift from God, and that he needed to remember those less fortunate than himself.

For perhaps half of our people this is a recovery in name only. We can hope, pray and advocate that someone like Solomon arises to seriously question the status quo before something worse happens.