We Need a Fundamental Reset
Our economy is deeply rotten at its core. Even in the best of times, the current way of doing things leaves millions of working Americans teetering on the edge of destitution, one wrong move away from abject poverty. Things are too far gone, too profoundly broken for us to hope for incremental change as a solution.
We need a fundamental reset of the economy.
In order to do so, we need to stop focusing on the economy in some abstract macroeconomic sense that prioritizes corporate profits over human lives, and start focusing on the root of the economy that most Americans actually experience in their daily lives – the compensation they receive from the work they produce. In other words, their wages.
The stagnation of American wages in the face of rising corporate profits and shareholder wealth is at the heart of the problem with our current economy. We cannot begin to hope to fix it until we ensure that everyone working full time is able to afford their basic needs.
Our economy simply isn’t working for the vast majority of Americans. In downturns the poor and working class bear all the burden of a slowing economy, yet when the economy does well, nothing improves in the day-to-day life of most Americans.
There is virtually no correlation between the stock market and corporations doing well and the average American being better off. A rising GDP doesn’t make the rent go down. A booming stock market doesn’t make health care any more affordable. And high corporate profits definitely don’t mean that workers are getting raises. But when the situation takes a turn, ordinary people will be the first to feel the squeeze.
In what was technically one of the longest economic booms in American history, most Americans felt like things were still pretty terrible, because for most Americans, they were. Some may point to the fact that our phones, televisions, and computers are better and cheaper as proof that the market is improving our lives, but outside of a few gadgets American life has generally gotten more expensive and more difficult over the last several decades, with no end in sight.
No minor action will change this bleak reality. We need to think about big, fundamental changes, starting with raising the minimum wage. This is the first critical step to ensuring that us workers get a fair share of the proceeds of business.