Thursday, May 12, 2011


In the news yesterday is the story that the cost of tuition at the California State Colleges will  be $7,400 which is more than double the $3,523 in tuition and fees in 2007-08.  So in the first year of her college education, our youngest daughter's tuition cost will double that of her brother who is graduating next week. 

And really, what is the surprise there?  The cost of everything is going up, right?  We run around refusing to tax the wealthy, allow corporations to avoid paying taxes because we are afraid they will continue to send jobs overseas, we hide our heads in the sand and sing la-la-la when anyone talks to us about raising our taxes and so we pay, pay, pay in every other way.

The problem we are also not addressing is that in addition to the cost of everything going up - is that our compensation for our work is going down.  According to Robert Reich: 

In order to keep the jobs they have, millions of Americans are accepting shrinking paychecks. If they’ve been fired, the only way they can land a new job is to accept even smaller ones.

The wage squeeze is putting most households in a double bind. Before the recession, they’d been able to pay the bills because they had two paychecks. Now, they’re likely to have one-and-a half, or just one, and it’s shrinking.

On the on the other hand:

The biggest irony is that the Street is doing wonderfully well right now, in contrast to most Americans. Corporate profits for the first quarter of the year are way up. That’s largely because corporate payrolls are down.

Payrolls are down because big companies have been shifting much of their work abroad where business is booming. The Commerce Department recently reported that over the last decade American multinationals (essentially all large American corporations) eliminated 2.9 million American jobs while adding 2.4 million abroad.

So no matter what the politicians say, those jobs are not coming back.  As long as we continue to support big corporations with tax  write-offs and loopholes, that money will continue to flow overseas.  In the meantime, businesses continue to find ways to cut wages, automate and delete employees and threaten to remove any bargaining power employee unions have, safety measure supported by government agencies and  civil rights protections.

In the past business had a big stake in education.  They needed their future workers, their capable leaders.  Now - they skim the cream off the top and get the rest overseas.  The top folks can afford whatever kind of education and lifestyle they want  for their families- so these issues don't touch them.  Gone are the days when American companies cared about contributing to their country.  They only care about what their country will contribute to them.

My family has personally experienced multiple job losses,  lower earnings, rising tuition costs, the inability to graduate from college in 4 years because of cuts to classes and faculty, the lack of government services due to budget cuts, threats to retirement and other union negotiated compensation, loss of earnings due to corporate malfeasance and other problems related to the economic crash.   We have all educated ourselves, are working hard, raising good kids and we are wondering what the hell the future holds for us and more importantly - for them.


knittergran said...

This country is in a race to the bottom, and Republicans are either in on it, or, like the ones I come in contact with, too lazy or whatever to even educate themselves about what is really going on.

hokgardner said...

It's a sad state of affairs, and I wonder what kind of world my kids will live in when they grow up.

yogurt said...

Thank you for such a well written piece expressing exactly the facts, fears, and frustrations I have been struggling with but haven't been able to articulate in one place. The tax loopholes, where multi-million dollar profits essentially go un-taxed while we middle-class schmoes subsidize their lavish lifestyles? What kind of a nation are we?

Mrs. G. said...

I need to go back to school in order to increase my earnings, but I can't afford school. My kids get first dibs on college educations. Like a lot of people, I feel stuck in low paying work and if my husband ever loses his job and insurance, we are screwed. I never remember feeling so economically vulnerable before. I also don't understand not taxing the rich. In fact, I would be willing to pay more taxes if I was assured health care.

Mrs. G. said...

Right on. I don't understand why we aren't taxing the wealthy AND corporations. I am even willing to pay more taxes if I was guaranteed healthcare. I don't recall ever feeling so economically vulnerable.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm wondering when much of the country will wake up to what is happening and start voting their pocketbooks instead of God, guns and abortion.