Two views of economic reality in one night
By Lee Russ
Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 06:02 PM
As Jim Webb noted in his rebuttal to the official State of the Union, it's almost like the Repubs & Dems get their economic news from two different universes. Compare these two statements from the State of the Union and the rebuttal:
A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy, and that is what we have. We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth -- in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs ... so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low and wages are rising. This economy is on the move -- and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise.President Bush, in the State of the Union speech.
When one looks at the health of our economy, it's almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it's nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.Senator Jim Webb, in yesterday's Democratic response to the president's State of the Union speech.
Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them.
In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table. Our workers know this, through painful experience. Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.