I always think that there's something highly ironic about May Day. It celebrates Labor activism and commemorates the Haymarket Riots in Chicago in 1886. Of course, that remembrance occurs in most every industrialized country of the world except the United States.
I find myself looking around at the economic situation of the working man in this country and I don't like what I see. Wages have remained stagnant during the last five years of so-called economic expansion. Corporations have produced record amounts of profit, yes, but in part because their rank and file employees are working more and getting paid less. That is, of course, if the jobs just aren't being contracted to manufacturing firms in China or outsourced white collar technology firms in China or India. The chief exponent of this economic transformation is, of course, Walmart -- who claims to be on the side of the working man by giving him good value on consumer goods. The "good for the working man" philosophy only extends to one side of the cash register; the clerk ringing up the purchase is probably part time, with no benefits, and receives a low hourly wage.
I am also concerned with the state of property ownership in the country. Part of this is, I suppose, because Mrs. Geek and I have renewed our search for affordable housing in our local area that will allow us to have a family in the next couple years. The closest house larger than our apartment (> 1200 square ft) and less than $500K that we've seen listed so far is a new home 56 miles away from my place of employment, and over a long toll bridge.
Not that I pity homeowners at the moment. I hear that tax revolt is brewing because all those hugely valued houses that people bought during the last few years also carry large assessments and variable rate mortgages with high adjustable rates kicking in.
Those tax assessments are rising because local governments are hurting for cash. The war and the new entitlements created by the Shrub administration have drained Federal coffers, and the last few Republican Congresses haven't been overly eager to hand out funds to the states for things like... oh... health care or schools (much less fund regulatory efforts to make sure that we aren't all food poisoned or help the people made homeless by Katrina). Sales tax probably helped buoy local governments for a while, as did home equity loans on all those skyrocketing property values that people had for the last five years. Those days are over for the moment. Wages are flat. The home equity market is drying up. The high risk mortgage market is sinking.
Nope, it's not a good time to be anything but filthy rich. It's the Paris Hilton decade. I mean, she works hard for her money, doesn't she? I'm sure the President thinks so.
on 2007-05-01 at 9:47 p.m.
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