Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Class Struggle: the Prey Turns and Fights the Predator

jurrasicpork posts Tom Frank's parting shot at The New York Pravda:

What we have watched unfold for a few decades, I have argued, is a broad reversion to 19th-century political form, with free-market economics understood as the state of nature, plutocracy as the default social condition, and, enthroned as the nation’s necessary vice, an institutionalized corruption surpassing anything we have seen for 80 years. All that is missing is a return to the gold standard and a war to Christianize the Philippines.

Historically, liberalism was a fighting response to precisely these conditions. Look through the foundational texts of American liberalism and you can find everything you need to derail the conservative juggernaut. But don’t expect liberal leaders in Washington to use those things. They are “New Democrats” now, enlightened and entrepreneurial and barely able to get out of bed in the morning, let alone muster the strength to deliver some Rooseveltian stemwinder against “economic royalists...”

Krugman also takes up the call. [linked as soon as i bothered to read more of juruasicpork's excellent blog!]

Marie Cocco at the Boulder Daily Camera has this to say:

The "ownership society" looks like this: The owners are doing quite well, thank you.

Wealth — the value of assets such as houses, stocks and cash that an individual holds, after debts are subtracted — has become more concentrated over the past four decades, and more intensely so since 1998. Middle-income families who, in contemporary political mythology, are socking away money in mutual funds and soon will see their net worth rise with their stocks are, in truth, holding a steadily shrinking proportion of the nation's wealth.

For all the popular fascination with Wall Street greed and glory, investment wealth is still a distant dream on Main Street: In 2004, more than half of all U.S. households held no stock at all. That includes stocks held indirectly in mutual funds and in 401(k) retirement accounts. And almost two out of three households that did own stock held portfolios valued at less than $5,000.

Meanwhile, households with incomes in the top 10 percent owned close to 80 percent of all stock. The net worth of the wealthiest Americans has climbed consistently since 1962, when the top holders of wealth held 125 times what the median household did. By 2004 the best-off had wealth amounting to 190 times that of a typical household.

"The fallacy that all or even most American households are greatly invested in the stock market — either directly or indirectly through pension plans — is exposed," says the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute in its annual study of the State of Working America.

The study, published every Labor Day, hasn't been released in its entirety. The book's chapter on wealth was released in advance. The analysis is based on Federal Reserve and other government data.

The excerpt's value is not in telling us what we already know: that wages are stagnant or shrinking; that the fruits of American workers' increased productivity have fed corporate profits, to an extent unprecedented in the post-World War II era; that even as wages fall and benefits such as guaranteed pensions are discarded as an extravagant "legacy" cost that drags down profits, corporate chieftains reward themselves with eye-popping pay packages and retirement benefits. ..

But while most CEOs earn disproportionately more than their serfs, what group has really pulled ahead of the rest of the pack of jackals?

You guessed it. The wolves of war:

CEOs at Defense Contractors Earn 45% More
Campaign Contributions Tied to Bigger Contracts

* Download
the Study (PDF, 285 KB)

Median CEO pay at the 37 largest defense contractors rose 79 percent from 2001 to 2002, while overall CEO pay climbed only 6 percent, according to a new report from United for a Fair Economy, More Bucks for the Bang: CEO Pay at Top Defense Contractors, by Chris Hartman and David Martin.

Median pay was 45 percent higher in 2002 at defense contractors than at the 365 large companies surveyed by Business Week magazine. The typical U.S. CEO made $3.7 million in 2002, while the typical defense industry CEO got $5.4 million.

The jump in median defense contractor CEO pay far exceeded the increase in defense spending, which rose 14 percent from 2001 to 2002.

Compared with an army private’s pay of $19,585, the average CEO at a major defense contractor made 577 times as much in 2002, or $11,297,548. This is also more than 28 times as much as the Commander in Chief’s salary of $400,000.

The study also looked at the size of campaign contributions by the largest defense contractors and found a strong correlation between campaign contributions made by a company in the 2000 and 2002 election cycles and the value of defense contracts awarded to that company. Ninety percent of the difference in contract size can be accounted for by size of contributions. For example, top arms contractor Lockheed Martin was also the top campaign contributor among defense firms...

That was just the first year after 9/11.

A longer study:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
By Andrew Taylor
The Associated Press

Washington- The chief executives of corporations making big profits from the war on terror are enjoying far bigger pay increases than CEOs of nondefense companies, according to a study by two liberal groups.

The study, conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, found that, on average, CEOs of corporations with extensive defense contracts are getting paid about double what they made before Sept. 11, 2001.

CEOs of other large corporations without big stakes in the war have averaged pay gains of 6 percent during the same period, the study said...

There you have it. Bu$hie's base sez the economy is very, very good. The rest of you can just eat MREs.


jurassicpork said...

You don't need to find a way around the firewall: I'd posted Krugman's article a few seconds before Frank's.

kelley b. said...

Sorry, I should have noticed. Thanks for pointing that out.