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    on the subject of taxes..., 2004-09-12 13:27:20 | Main | off-label drug prescriptions..., 2004-09-13 12:47:02

    onward corporate profits!:

    I thought these folks were gonna be creating the economy of the future, new jobs, and fantastical new technologies undreamed of by mortal man with all their fancy new profits:

    A rare confluence of factors cost-cutting and uncertainty about the future mixed with an economic upturn and record profits has convinced top executives that it's best to hoard cash like squirrels stashing nuts for the winter.

    Nationally, 500 of the largest companies are sitting on a record $582 billion in cash and liquid, short-term investments, said Standard & Poor's in New York. That's up from $500 billion at the end of 2003 and $261 billion in 1999. Corporate profits, now at record levels, partly explain why so much cash is piling up.

    I think working Americans could find something useful to blow it on, if we could reclaim our piece of the action. Nelson Lichtenstein reminds us how this works:

    Right after World War II, the UAW actually struck on behalf of the low-price policy that Wal-Mart would make famous 35 years later: Labor wanted GM to freeze car prices, but still raise wages, so as to share with the public the cost savings made possible by the World War II investment surge. GM battled the UAW and successfully sidelined this idea.

    But it knew that high wages and benefits were essential to industrial peace, so in landmark collective bargaining in 1948 and 1950, GM guaranteed an annual increase in the real income of its 300,000 blue-collar workers regardless of inflation, recession, or corporate profits. Thus, between 1947 and 1973 the real income of autoworkers doubled, and because GM was the template firm, the auto-industry wage pattern was quickly adopted by a large slice of big manufacturing firms, unionized or not.

    For the only time in the 20th century, the real income of those in the bottom half of the income distribution rose as fast as those in the top 10 percent.


:: posted by buermann @ 2004-09-12 14:01:39 CST | link





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