This isn't your normal recovery because what we've experienced hasn't been your
normal up-and-down swing of the business cycle. The fundamental structure of
our economy has changed. For 30 years, median real wages have barely
increased, and over the last decade they've dropped -- even though the
productive capacity of the economy has soared. And that disconnect --
between what the economy can produce at full employment and what people can
spend without going into unsustainable debt -- is the core problem. Since the debt
bubble burst in 2008, that problem can no longer be avoided or wished away.
Keynesian pump-priming assumes that at some point consumers will take over.
Once the government has spent enough, consumer spending will then keep the
economy going. But the middle class doesn't have enough money to take over
where the government leaves off because its share of total income keeps
shrinking. For their part, supply-siders assume business leaders and
entrepreneurs will create more jobs if they're adequately rewarded with tax cuts.
But they won't create more jobs without more customers. And as real wages
continue to drop, most people can't and won't buy more. We're caught in a trap of
our own making that defies the standard remedies. Neither Keynesian stimulus
nor supply-side tax cuts -- nor even the Fed keeping interest rates near zero --
will restore buoyant job growth. The fact is that unless we can get the economy
back to the balance it achieved 30 years ago, when the middle class and those
aspiring to join it received a much larger share of the economy's gain, we simply
can't get back on track. (Reich, 2012, September 12)
The right plan for addressing the economy will not be a Republican or Democratic solution
but one that considers people first. The corporations listed consistently as the best places
to work are those that focus on creating a work environment that allows for creativity and
growth while paying people a living wage. Tony Schwartz in a Harvard Business Review
blog, The Twelve Attributes of a Truly Great Place To Work, suggests, “The answer is that
great employers must shift the focus from trying to get more out of people, to investing
more in them by addressing their four core needs physical, emotional, mental and
spiritual” (http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/09/the-twelve-attributes-of-a-tru.html). For
the freelancers involved with this project, it was clearly a choice that allowed them to meet
their needs and as freelance jobs and wages become tenuous, they are clearly improvising
in the workforce and considering new opportunities.
Before the economic meltdown, the liminality of uncertainty was already a part of the reality
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