Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The angry Americans

Which one is the Trump supporter?
Yes, white American voters are angry.

On the right, poorly educated whites back the billionaire who expresses their anger at people of color.

On the left, the well-educated whites back the Democratic socialist who taps into the anger at Wall Street.

The source of the rage is simple: Our better-paying manufacturing jobs are being out-sourced and the other jobs are being taken by undocumented workers because white Americans no longer want those jobs at a pay rate that is difficult to live on.

Intel lays off thousands and is also trying to expand the visa program to bring in coders and other I.T. personnel from India and other countries.

Why? Well, they want to pay them far less than they pay American workers.

Once here, the Indian workers learn from their American counterparts and then return home with the jobs the Americans used to have.

Disney, Toys R Us and others have done this recently.

The stock market cheers such moves and so other publicly-traded companies have little choice but to follow along.

Amazingly, the unemployment rate is at historic lows. In fact, Oregon's jobless rate is at its lowest point, 4.5 percent, since tracking comparable data began in the 1970s.

All over Bend, you see reader boards begging for workers.

Of course, the jobs are low paying in retail, fast-food and the tourism businesses. McDonald's is even offering bonuses. It's also paying $10 an hour. Oregon's minimum wage is already $9.25 an hour, second only to Washington state at $9.47.

The argument that such a high minimum wage results in widespread job losses is completely refuted by the data in Oregon.

In fact, Oregon and Washington are stealing young workers from neighboring states. Legal marijuana and a more tolerant attitude likely play a part.

The 80 jobs recently lost in Warm Springs when the reservation's lumber mill closed will be absorbed by the burgeoning marijuana trade, according to tribal leaders.

Still, the high minimum wages in the Northwest are still less, when adjusted for inflation, than what was paid in the late 1960s. American workers have been losing ground ever since. It's worse now because of accelerated outsourcing.

The recent rush to get hourly pay to $15 an hour by 2022 will help, but it's too little and too late. calculated that a worker would currently need to make nearly $29 an hour to live comfortably in the Portland area.

Adding insult to injury is the staggering disparity of incomes between the rank-and-file workers and the executives.  Here's an excerpt:
  • From 1978 to 2011, CEO compensation increased more than 725 percent, a rise substantially greater than stock market growth and the painfully slow 5.7 percent growth in worker compensation over the same period.

The CEO of Yahoo, who did nothing to improve the viability of the company, will get $55 million when she leaves it.

Yes, the deck is stacked against the common worker. There isn't much hope for the younger generation to afford a home in a desirable place or send a kid to college, even a public one.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump says he has the answer to appease the angry: Send 11.5 million undocumented workers home and build a wall. He will do nothing to stop outsourcing. He will likely expand it. Oh, as usual, cutting taxes will solve everything.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders say if we break up the banks and tax stock speculators we can make a dent in the income inequality chasm that hasn't been this bad since the French Revolution.

Sanders nails the central issues plaguing this country. The problem is that it will be impossible to do anything about our financial robber barons. They own the lawmakers, the judges and most people of influence.

The revolution that Trump and Sanders say we need won't be achieved at the ballot box.

And, a Republican-led Congress has little interest in doing anything for the incredibly shrinking middle class.

The only hope is our court system. That is why the Republicans won't fill Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court. And, if Hillary wins in November and Republicans control Congress, Scalia's seat could stay vacant for years.

And the anger will roil on.

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