The U.S. is more than five years into an economic recovery, and things are still not OK. There may be more jobs now, but many of them don’t pay enough to support a family. While there has been no shortage of proposals or tinkering on the edges in an attempt to improve things, it’s time for policymakers to consider a new idea – it’s the economic model, stupid!
Today’s job marketplace, due in part to big businesses’ manipulation of the system, is not providing enough employment opportunities for middle-class workers. While our society has produced $30 trillion in new wealth, it has also put six million more children on food stamps. This nation cannot be satisfied with a market-based regime that supports 115,000 households in this country to earn $10 million a year but also allows 138,000 children to be homeless. That’s not the American way.
Income inequality has gripped the U.S. workforce because political leaders have embraced an economic platform that puts corporations above workers. Unions were undercut, and with that wages. But that still wasn’t enough for wealthy industrialists. The manufacturing base was forfeited to cheaper labor overseas due to devastating trade agreements that gave away jobs instead of creating them. But companies took more money to the bank.
The most recent round of elections has left workers with a diminished voice in Washington. But there is one issue that may have enough bipartisan appeal to help spur its consideration and passage – infrastructure investment. Whether it’s roads or transit or water or broadband, America needs projects that help workers and business alike. Work in all these areas has the potential to do so.
Workers can also do their part by organizing for power in the workplace. When workers stand together, they earn better pay and benefits. Don’t believe it? These Department of Labor statistics prove it. There is a reason why many workers choose to join the Teamsters and other unions. Now more need to follow that same pathway to the middle class.