REBEL YELL: ‘Sickout’, Revolt of the Essential Workers – By Alex Gutentag

Source – stuartbramhall.wordpress.com

  • “…The economic discontent that propelled both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to popularity had been building for many years. As a recent article in the journal American Affairs noted, $34 trillion of real equity wealth, in 2017 dollars, was created between 1989 and 2017. Nearly half that sum (44%) consisted of a reallocation of corporate equity to shareholders at the expense of worker compensation, while economic growth accounted for just 25% of that increase in wealth. In other words, despite the advent of seemingly near-miraculous, time- and space-saving digital technologies, the post-Cold War “economic boom” consisted mainly of America’s wealthy shareholders taking money from its increasingly insecure workforce”

Revolt of the Essential Workers

Chona Kasinger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Alex Gutentag

Wrong Kind of Green

A sign informs customers of a canceled ferry route at the Water Taxi Terminal during a ferry workers ‘sickout’ in downtown Seattle, 2021Chona Kasinger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Back before the COVID-19 pandemic started, the year 2019 saw anti-government demonstrations in Paris, Manila, La Paz, Port-au-Prince, Bogotá, Prague, Quito , Beirut, Hong Kong, London, Baghdad, Barcelona, Budapest, Santiago, New Delhi, Jakarta, Buenos Aires and more, earning the title “the year of the protest.” It was also a year of resurgent labor activity in the United States. After decades of declining union participation, the country saw 25 major work stoppages involving 425,500 workers, the highest number since 2001.

The economic discontent that propelled both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to popularity had been building for many years. As a recent article in the journal American Affairs noted, $34 trillion of real equity wealth, in 2017 dollars, was created between 1989 and 2017. Nearly half that sum (44%) consisted of a reallocation of corporate equity to shareholders at the expense of worker compensation, while economic growth accounted for just 25% of that increase in wealth. In other words, despite the advent of seemingly near-miraculous, time- and space-saving digital technologies, the post-Cold War “economic boom” consisted mainly of America’s wealthy shareholders taking money from its increasingly insecure workforce.

America, and other Western societies, had moved from a model of real growth and expanding benefits for all to a model where the rich got richer by impoverishing the less wealthy orders of society—and the lower orders were fighting back. However, after lockdowns were imposed in March 2020, the balance of power abruptly shifted back toward billionaire oligarchs and large corporations. Tech-based U.S. monopolies widened their profit margins as workers and their children were confined to their homes and the Fed pumped money into Wall Street. As the Fed provided unlimited purchases of corporate debt and securities, millions of people filed for unemployment, nearly 1 in 4 households experienced food insecurity, and 200,000 small businesses closed. The result was an estimated loss of $1.3 trillion in household wealth for American workers. Meanwhile, U.S. billionaires gained $1 trillion.

COVID-19 stopped a nascent American workers’ movement in its tracks, as protests and acts of political rebellion were essentially banned. Amid intense fear and confusion, public health edicts effectively suspended the right to assembly. The concept of “social distancing” encouraged people to view their neighbors, colleagues, friends, and even family members as potential sources of disease. “Experts,” technocrats, and corporations became the heroes of the pandemic, while the masses became the villains.

When lockdowns began we were told that we were “all in this together,” but every measure since then has served to entrench inequality, sabotage the middle class, and enrich elites. Images of ultrawealthy celebrities parading around maskless at fancy events, surrounded by masked servants, have provided a powerful visual representation of the COVID-19 era—an era that has seen the greatest upward wealth transfer in modern history. As a result of lockdowns, between 143 million and 163 million people worldwide have fallen into poverty and there was a sixfold increase in the number of people suffering through hunger and starvation. At the same time, tech companies like Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft saw record profits.

Today, the U.S. is experiencing the fastest rate of inflation since 2008 and consumer prices have increased by 5.4%. The top 1% of the country has more wealth than the entire middle class, the top 10% own 90% of stocks, and BlackRock and other investment firms are buying up houses. It has been 83 weeks since “two weeks to flatten the curve.” Now, the question is not whether workers will accept temporary lockdowns, but rather, whether they will accept a permanent COVID-industrial-complex that continues to erode their quality of life

Via

https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/

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