Work Harder, Not Better-Remunerated

With fourteen “major” candidates announced and a few more impending, the Republican field for President in 2016 has been described as a “clown car”. That’s funny and all, but at least they don’t have their party deciding that if they don’t like Hillary Clinton, too bad, so sad, it’s her turn and nobody else’s.

But even a clown car has a driver, and that seems to be Jeb Bush, the “smart” Bush, which is like being the “nutritious” gummy worm. This is great news for people who’ve forgotten that over 200 years ago we opted not to have royal families rule us.

So far Jeb’s pretty much been a by-the-numbers Republican candidate, trying to stand out from a pool of contenders all trained to never, ever, depart from the purity of the party line and bred to diminish any kind of imagination. I don’t know how the average conservative voter chooses from an identical bunch of options, but I guess there are variances in flavors to true connoisseurs.

In any case, Jeb got some valuable attention yesterday by talking about how we Americans need to work harder.

My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.

Well, this is nothing new. We proles are used to having our economic betters tell us that we too could be massively wealthy if we just worked harder, usually while they’re standing on a golf course or sitting in front of a TV camera. There may be more to this, though.

In a statement, a Bush aide clarified that he was referring to the underemployed and part-time workers: “Under President Obama, we have the lowest workforce participation rate since 1977, and too many Americans are falling behind. Only Washington Democrats could be out-of-touch enough to criticize giving more Americans the ability to work, earn a paycheck, and make ends meet.”

Bush commented on this issue speaking before the Detroit Economic Council back in February.

“For several years now, they have been recklessly degrading the value of work, the incentive to work, and the rewards of work. We have seen them cut the definition of a full-time job from 40 to 30 hours, slashing the ability of paycheck earners to make ends meet,” he said. “We have seen them create welfare programs and tax rules that punish people with lost benefits and higher taxes for moving up those first few rungs of the economic ladder.”

Forget the nonsense about Democrats, he’s actually criticizing our sacred and beloved “Job Creators” there, although he probably doesn’t realize this. It’s not Democrats who have frozen wages, not Democrats who’ve drastically cut hours and benefits, not Democrats who use unemployment and underemployment as a solution to their payroll problem, that is 100% on employers, who took a crisis situation in 2008 and have happily and profitably rolled with it ever since. Americans aren’t choosing to not be employed, or to be underemployed. And they’re not choosing to be underpaid for the work they do. That’s all on companies who have profited on Wall Street and in CEO pay while claiming poverty when it comes time to pay the people who actually do the work. (It is, however, Democrats, who love love love secret multinational trade agreements that send even more jobs overseas to be performed for pennies.)

As always, it’s always about the cheap labor. That’s it. Every plank in the Republican platform is hewn from the same tree. Even their Evangelical Christian footsoldiers work towards this cause, as you can con people into living a miserable life if you promise them a glorious one afterwards. Every election is the same: how can we convince you peons to give up more for the comfort of your corporate masters?

If Jeb Bush were the smart man people claim he is, he’d realize that he’s pretty much admitted that Sacred Reagan Trickle-Down doesn’t work. He might think he criticizing Democrats, but he’s criticizing the idea that if we give the rich more, everyone prospers. If he were smart, he’d see this and realize his blunder. If his many opponents were smart, they’d jump on this as a weak point to attack. But they’re caught between wanting to attack “Democrats” and wanting to please the only demographic that matters.

Any discussion of labor that doesn’t address wages is pointless. Working more hours with the same anemic pay is like selling more items at a loss in the hopes that volume will somehow make up for it. Our current model is not unsustainable, it’s simply unsustainable if you also want someone other than the bosses to benefit. Productivity is not the problem, and it hasn’t been for decades. It’s all about the wages. Demanding more productivity without increasing the cut for the people doing the work isn’t prosperity, it’s, at best, feudalism.

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