The chart above tracks the growth of the average hourly wage of the American worker. It seems to show an overall steady and solid increase. But it is an optical illusion. The scale on the right starts at $22.00 and ends at $22.80. If it started at $0.00 the columns would appear to be about the same height.

What the chart does show is that in the last 12 months wages have increased nominally by 54 cents. But if you factor in inflation, the increase is 10 cents.

This is not what the congregation was promised by the administration and its congressional poodles when they were selling the tax cuts. Once again the wealth giveaway to the top earners and corporations has not led to significant increases in worker pay. How often will poorly-educated white men fall for this? 

Adding insult to injury will be the inevitable calls from fiscal conservatives that something must be done about the concomitant exploding deficits. And they will demand that the ‘something’ should be cuts in social programs.

Because they are shameless.

Having looked at the middle, let’s look at the bottom — the minimum wage. It has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009. If it had tracked with inflation it would be $8.55 today. However, if we instead picked 1968 as a baseline, and matched inflation, the minimum wage would now be $11.59.

Let’s take it one step further. If instead, the minimum wage had risen as much as average CEO pay it would now be $93.52.

And if the ratio of CEO pay to the average wage had remained the same the average wage would be $287 an hour.

And yet the supply-siders still insist on cutting taxes on the economic aristocrats and complain that the poor are fighting a ‘class war’ and demanding ‘wealth redistribution’. It’s like running someone over and complaining they dented your fender. 

And the small-government types say that wages at each end of the scale are merely a product of market forces and any attempt to interfere is merely socialism and will only assure a Soviet-style command economy. It’s rubbish of course. Many countries see economic growth combined with a vibrant middle class and a robust safety net.

As Christoper Hitchens so pithily observed of libertarianism (specifically Ayn Rand’s ‘Objectivism’) “I have always found it quaint, and rather touching, that there is a movement in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.”


The Two Americas – Rarely the Twain Shall Meet.

July 30, 2015

“History is written by the rich, and so the poor get blamed for everything” ― Jeffrey D. Sachs Martin Luther King talked of ‘two Americas’. Two Americas divided by wealth and opportunity. And it isn’t only that the rich can buy more stuff than the poor. They can also buy better criminal justice and political results. Rob […]

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What’s the Worst That Could Happen? How to Make a Choice.

July 29, 2015

“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks” ― Christopher Hitchens. Will an increase in the minimum wage lead to economic Armageddon and mass firings – or will it lift millions out of poverty? Many have an opinion and luckily there are ‘experts’ they can cite […]

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The Military/Industrial Complex and the Culture of Dependency.

March 30, 2015

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower. Tom Kennedy, Wes Bush, and Greg Hayes are names not familiar to most Americans, but those government […]

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Are We Mom, the Flag, and Apple Pie – Or More Like the Guy at Applebee’s in the Wife Beater.

December 11, 2014

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville. We consider ourselves to be a decent people. Our heroes are stalwart sorts – who can be relied upon to the right thing. Cary Cooper, John Wayne and the Marlboro Man. We […]

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Capitalism’s Casualties – 6 Things That Are Stupidly Expensive in the US.

November 19, 2014

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” ― Dorothy Parker American capitalists tell us the magic of the US market is that it will always give us the best goods at the best value. The real magic is that people still believe it. […]

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The Presidential Six-Year Itch.

November 7, 2014

No President has sailed through two terms accoladed by the public and lauded by the media. The sixth year, in particular, is a hard one – especially as the mid-terms provide a clear score card on the incumbent. This time around the voters gave Obama a thorough spanking. But his misery is in good company. […]

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The Stupidity of Supply-Siders.

October 14, 2014

“When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is usually the reputation of the business that remains intact.” – Warren Buffet. Life is full of transactions between those who have stuff – and those who want stuff. In economic terms, deals are struck between suppliers and […]

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The Ferguson Affair is no Reason to Abolish the EPA.

August 15, 2014

“If men were angels no government would be necessary” – James Madison The Ferguson PD deployed armored vehicles and heavily armed, camouflaged officers to counter the protests over the Michael Brown killing. Libertarians are leaping on that overreaction to decry a government grown too large; too authoritarian; too fascist. Their solution? Dispense with the whole […]

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