Massa Jeb has spoken. He says you aren’t working hard enough. He wants 4 percent annual growth, he says, and the way to achieve it is for you to work longer hours.
So pull up your socks, workers! Tote that barge! Lift that bail!
So what if you’re working two or three jobs to support your family? So what if you’re working 50, 60, even 70 hours a week?
Massa wants you to do even more. As a member of the top one percent, he is counting on you to produce more abundantly so he and his upper-crust buddies can live more luxuriously. The way he sees it, that’s your patriotic duty.
I suppose it’s only to be expected that Jeb Bush (above) would have this kind of economic vision. As a member of one of America’s most powerful dynasties, he has made millions – $15 million since his days as Florida’s governor, I understand – from his lucrative consulting and business interests.
Meanwhile, the American worker’s pay has flat lined despite a big jump in productivity. Workforce productivity has risen some 80 percent since the 1970s, making the US the most productive country in the world. But today’s average hourly wage has no more purchasing power than it did in 1979.
Jeb seems blissfully unaware of the economic facts of life in the country that he wants to lead. As Matthew Pulver reminds us in Salon.com today:
… in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader on Wednesday, he demonstrated a complete lack of appreciation for how hard Americans work — and for how little. Perhaps you can also forgive him for not recognizing that, in fact, Americans work more than their counterparts in other industrialized countries, that we get less vacation time, less maternity leave, and retire later than most anyone else, and that that trend is only intensifying.
Of course, Jeb’s world is light years away from yours and mine. Born to wealth and privilege, he has parlayed his family connections into a massive personal fortune.
Still, he should know – or his campaign advisers should know – that America’s sluggish economic growth is not because of slackers in the work force but because of low wages, which have left the vast majority of Americans with so little discretionary income that consumer spending is languishing.
And, no, the slow economy is not because so many Americans have part-time jobs. As former labor secretary Robert Reich pointed out on MSNBC last night, the part-time workers more often than not have two or three jobs as they hustle to bring home the bacon.
Jeb obviously doesn’t know how the average American lives, but he should know how the corporate elite boost their profits. He should know corporate America has been outsourcing jobs to low-wage countries like India and China. And he should know that advances in technology have increased productivity and enabled massive layoffs.
So he should know that the way to boost the American economy is by addressing income inequality. But, as a Republican candidate, you can bet he isn’t going to go there.