Where Are Our Liberal Leaders?

As this long hot summer enters its final days the nation is mired at 9.5% unemployment, but the scary thing is that’s not our biggest economic crisis. Scarier yet, we seem to have lost all sense of how to organize ourselves against these forces.

Paul Krugman writing in Monday’s New York Times takes note of the new normal in America – massive unemployment and underemployment. More frighteningly, Krugman notes, is that the institutions whose job it is to address these issues are simply walking away from their responsibilities:

First, we see Congress sitting on its hands, with Republicans and conservative Democrats refusing to spend anything to create jobs, and unwilling even to mitigate the suffering of the jobless…

Well, if Congress won’t act, what about the Federal Reserve? The Fed, after all, is supposed to pursue two goals: full employment and price stability, usually defined in practice as an inflation rate of about 2 percent. Since unemployment is very high and inflation well below target, you might expect the Fed to be taking aggressive action to boost the economy. But it isn’t…

Krugman’s column comes on the heels of this past weekend’s Financial Times piece on the vanishing American middle-class:

The slow economic strangulation of the Freemans and millions of other middle-class Americans started long before the Great Recession, which merely exacerbated the “personal recession” that ordinary Americans had been suffering for years. Dubbed “median wage stagnation” by economists, the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973 – having risen by only 10 per cent in real terms over the past 37 years. That means most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation. Over the same period the incomes of the top 1 per cent have tripled. In 1973, chief executives were on average paid 26 times the median income. Now the

T.R. Donoghue is an attorney living in Denver, Colorado where he works on labor and employment issues. T.R. has worked extensively in public policy and politics and on both state and national campaign ...read more

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