The economy that shows steady growth, good corporate profits and great executive pay raises?
Ot the economy in which more Americans are doing with less, houly wages are depressed and there are a record number of home forelcosures and bankruptcies?
Never in my long experience have the primary economic indicators -- stock market averages, productivity and so on -- been so out of synch with what I call the kitchen economy.
Now comes the Federal Reserve, ever alert for signs of inflation, to screw things up even more.
But as Kevin Drum notes at Political Animal:
Inflation over the past 12 months has clocked in at about 4.1 percent, so a 3.9 percent rise in nominal wages is a decrease in real wages. This is the "wage spike" the Fed is supposed to be concerned about.
Riddle me this: if the Fed tries to put the brakes on wages every time they creep up from negative to zero, what will hourly wages look like over the long term?
Answer: consistently down. Which is exactly what they've looked like over the past several decades.
. . . The problem is that financial markets and the Federal Reserve are bound and determined to make sure that none of this new wealth makes its way into the hands of the middle class. That's why, in our looking-glass world, a real wage decline of -0.2 percent is described as an increase.This brings us to the unhappy subject of the federal minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage was established in 1938 during the Great Depression to ensure that working-class Americans could afford basic necessities.
The concept has stood the test of time, but not the minimum wage itself, which has not kept up with inflation and stands at a measly $5.15 -- and has since 1997. This has made economic stability extremely difficult for many working class people whose job benefits rarely include paid health care, child care and vacationsThat may finally be changing if the feckless Democratic minority makes the minimum wage a mid-term election issue, but don't hold your breath.
What has the response of the Republican-controlled Congress been to this problem? To resists efforts to raise the minimum wage.
The Democratic Party used to be the party of the common man, but these days it acts like the party of Republican Lite.We shall see.
What has a better chance of diverting Republicans' attention from priorities like amendments to ban same sex marriages and flag burning is a threat by some Democratic lawmakers who remain true to the party's roots to block any legislative pay raise until a pending bill to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.
As you might expect, most of the 15 states vote Democratic. The wages in these states range from $1 to $2 over the federal law. Go here for more info.