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The Real Story of Our Economy: Why Our Standard of Living Has Stalled Out

Do public sector workers earn more than private sector workers? Who cares? This boneheaded question has us fighting over the crumbs. (And the answer is no – all credible studies show that when you account for educational levels, the total compensation packages are about the same.)

The real question is: Why have most workers seen their standard of living stall over the last generation?

The answer is both obvious and appalling. More and more of our nation’s wealth is going to the few, while the many have seen their real wages actually decline. It’s a disgrace.

It wasn’t always so. For more than a quarter century after WWII the fruits of America’s productivity were shared with average working people, year in and year out. But what exactly was being shared?

What’s productivity and who gets its benefits?

Productivity is a crucial economic measure of the total output of goods and services in our economy per hours worked. It’s not based on pay levels, only on hours worked in the economy as a whole. In effect, it measures how much human labor power it takes to produce everything we have. It makes a real difference to our standard of living if it takes 10,000 hours rather than 1,000 to build a house.

Output per working hour, although imprecise, is the best way we have to measure our level of technique, organization, skill, effort and intellectual firepower. Sure, this measure has significant flaws because it doesn’t really measure our health or environmental quality. But it does indeed measure the material side of our standard of living. When productivity grows, a society has the means to solve many problems and the means to enhance working and living conditions…but only if the fruits of productivity are shared somewhat fairly.

Continue reading this article at Alternet.
looting Les Leopold is the author of The Looting of America.


Why Europe’s Laws On Vacations Are Better Than Your Wildest Dreams (and How Badly Americans Get Screwed)

Imagine this: You work 25 hours a week at the McDonald’s in Cairo, New York, and have finally earned two weeks of paid vacation. You set out on a bike trip. On the first day in the saddle, you hit a pothole and crash, cracking your collar bone. You sit on your couch for the […] Read More..

How the Federal Reserve Is Manipulating Our Kids Into Loving Wall Street

Each year the Federal Reserve sponsors a national academic competition to indoctrinate our leading high school students into revering the marvels of modern finance capitalism. Unfortunately, nowhere in that intensive program do our students learn about how the largest U.S. banks have turned the Federal Reserve into their own private piggy-bank. The Fed, through a […] Read More..

What If the Greedy Rich Paid Their Share? 8 Things to Know About Wealth and Poverty in the US

We’re far from poor — we just have a wildly lopsided distribution of wealth that makes us seem poor. America is loaded. We are not a struggling nation ready to go under. We are not facing an enormous debt crisis despite what the politicians and pundits proclaim. We are not the next Greece. Rather, we […] Read More..

5 Ways Wall Street Is Putting the Squeeze on American Students

The damage Wall Street inflicted on our educational infrastructure is growing. March 13, 2012  | The damage to our educational infrastructure is growing, according to Catherine Rampell’s chilling report in the New York Times. As state funding has dwindled, public colleges have raised tuition and are now resorting to even more desperate measures — cutting […] Read More..

How Can the World’s Richest Country Let Children Go Hungry? 6 Tricks Corporate Elites Use to Hoard All the Wealth

December 21, 2011  –  AlterNet “Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans, nearly 1 in 2, have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.” “Study: 1 in 5 American children lives in poverty.” “In 2010, 17.2 million households, 14.5 percent of households (approximately one […] Read More..