So Congress has passed a government funding measure that has pegged the national cynicism meter to the red and made us all feel like government represents itself at our expense. This so-called “Cromnibus” allocates $1.1T to avoiding a government shutdown. In the process, this 1,603 page legislation funds a lot of things that a lot of people do not like. One thing that particularly bothers US [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001141′ ] is that it funds all aspects of the government that would aid and abet in allowing the massive entry of low-skilled labor into an already-flooded job market.
Yet a cursory look at wages vs CPI shows a positive picture. We can fix 1967 wages and CPI to 100 percent and graph the changes between now and then. Things look like they are coming up roses.
Median Wage is 821 times as much as it was in 1967*. Drive a regression line through the time series and we’re going up an average of 18 index points (about 3%) per year. CPI is decreasing less rapidly. CPI is only 626 times as much**. A similarly significant regression line here suggests an increase of 12.5 index points (less than 2%) per year. So as Sam Kineson once joked about asking a police officer who declared him legally drunk; what’s the problem?
Well, according to Senator Sessions, the problem is a demographic one involving age. In an OP-ED piece the senator wrote for National Review, Senator Sessions makes the following points.
1) Today’s typical 18- to 34-year-old earns about $2,000 less per year (adjusted for inflation) than their counterpart in 1980.
2) Nearly one in four Americans in their prime working years (ages 25–54) are not working. This includes 10 million American men and 18 million American women.
3) Real median weekly earnings are lower today than they were in 2000.
4) Median family income is down $4,000 since November 2007
This is not what the overriding current narrative wants to hear said. The Left and The Right both combine to push back against brave voices like Senator Sessions. Once can imagine the Media Matters/ Chamber of Commerce pushback as Senator Sessions attributes this economic decline to large inflows of immigrant labor. Xenophobes always blame bad things on new immigrants. Younger Americans just don’t get it. Native born Americans are just lazy, social welfare-addicted dirt-bags and need to be replaced by people who will do the hard, dirty jobs American workers just won’t do.***
To better understand why more and more Americans don’t believe work is paying off, let’s examine what would happen to Wage vs CPI if we plugged in a wage growth rate equal to what people aged 18-34 are currently being exposed to. If we keep the scale where 1967’s Median Wage =100, we get a max wage of 270.14 in 1980 and are down to 237.11 by 2014. Over that same period, CPI is going from 224.52 to 625.59. So wages are flat on average for younger workers while expenses are going up 2% per year. Thus we get the situation Frank Walsh talks about as he sits unemployed in Maryland.
“I’d work for them, but they’re only willing to pay $10 an hour,” he said, pointing at a Chick-fil-A that probably pays most of its workers less than that. “I’m 49 with two kids — $10 just isn’t going to cut it.”
And yet we get told not to worry about the poor.
It’s into this situation of declining fortunes for traditional Blue-Collar workers that we have increased the proportion of foreign born workers in the US from 5% to 13%. Thanks to the proposed Obama Executive orders, fully funded by the “Cromnibus”, the CBO projects that this proportion will reach 1/6 of the work force. Most of these new workers will have strong backs and low cognitive training. They will compete for the jobs that our suffering Lower Class workforce is currently unable to find. Senator Sessions tells us that we shouldn’t be shocked by what the CBO portends this will do for America.
Unsurprisingly, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the result of this legislation would be lower wages, higher-unemployment, and reduced per-capita GNP.
Senator Sessions winds up asking “Will we defend and protect the people who sent us here — their laws, their Constitution, their communities — or we will abandon them?” In response to this, I remember the overweening arrogance of Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “Mr. President, those jobs are not coming back.” Not if Silicon Valley, The Chamber of Commerce, La Raza, or The Main Street Partnership can help it. The people, who like Senator Sessions, stand up for average, working class Americans are no longer thick on the ground. It is ultimately up to those of us who still care about what we leave to the next generation of Americans to stand with Senator Sessions and fight this sickening corruption of both the Democrats and The Republicans before our country rots before our eyes.