Want to know why Americans are gloomy about the strength of the economy? – OpEd – Eurasia Review
How come the US economy grew at its fastest pace since 1984 last year (according to this week’s Commerce Department report) but most Americans remain gloomy about the economy and blame Biden and the Democrats? the New York Times says the cause of this paradox is inflation: “Biden suffers in the polls because high inflation undermines confidence in the economy, even if growth is strong.
Waste. Americans are glum about the economy despite its record growth because most Americans have not shared in that growth.
If you really want to understand this, a good place to start is the company often considered the most socially responsible in the country: Starbucks. (A Pew survey of where Americans would like to live included the question, “Just for fun: Would you rather live somewhere with more McDonald’s or more Starbucks?” Among self-proclaimed liberals, Starbucks said it. won, 46% And while McDonald’s won among adults 65 and older, Starbucks had a 13 percentage point advantage among 18-29 year olds.)
But in fact, Starbucks is not Socially responsible. Its brand is built on an edifice of false social responsibility.
Starbucks is the first major retailer in the nation to backtrack on vaccine or test plans for its workers, since the Supreme Court’s absurd Jan. 13 ruling that struck down the administration’s vaccine or test requirement. Biden. Starbucks is now telling its 200,000 U.S. employees that they no longer need to be fully vaccinated or undergo weekly coronavirus testing.
Starbucks calls its employees “partners” – but they’re not real partners. They do not share the profits. Between January and September of last year, Starbuck’s revenue soared to $20.9 billion (from $17.3 billion in the same period of 2020). Its president and CEO, Kevin Johnson, collected $14,665,575 in total compensation. But the current average hourly wage at Starbucks is $14 per hour, or $28,000 per year. And Starbucks wants to keep wages in the basement. For years, he fought fiercely against employees’ efforts to unionize.
Social responsibility my macchiato.
Now zoom out to the economy as a whole. Could it be that Americans are glum despite the economy’s record growth because the super-rich are getting a bigger and bigger slice of those gains while most people are getting crumbs? Is it possible they’re blaming Biden and the Democrats for promising to change that but, after a strong start, failing to deliver?
Starbuck’s progressive branding helped it sell a lot of coffee. Still, Starbucks faces a growing dilemma — much like the dilemma facing Biden and the Democrats. Young progressive Starbucks baristas are no longer willing to tolerate Starbucks hypocrisy. Since two Starbucks stores voted to unionize in late August, workers at dozens of other Starbucks stores across the country have filed election petitions.
Starbucks can’t have it both ways: portraying itself as the face of socially responsible capitalism while treating its employees like crap.
Biden and the Democrats could face a similar paradox – promising a fundamental shift in America’s power structure while allowing big business and the super-rich to continue growing their wealth and power. Biden and the Democrats can’t have it both ways, either.
Perhaps it was too much to expect Biden and the Dems to alter a trend that has been building for four decades as big business has steadily gained bargaining power (a handful of big companies now dominate most industries ), while hourly workers have steadily lost it (private sector workers’ share of unions has fallen by more than 30% to 6.1%. This shift in power is directly reflected in the growing share of economic gains which goes to the top and the decreasing share to all the others.
But it’s important for Biden and Democrats to avoid the trap of Starbucks-style hypocrisy. Biden and the Dems must tell the truth about what is happening: American workers are not losing ground due to inflation. They are losing ground because they continue to lose bargaining power. The economy has grown strongly over the past year, but the share going to most American workers continues to decline.
Starbucks workers are fed up with corporate hypocrisy. They begin to regain power by organizing at the base. Will most Americans be so fed up with their declining share of the economy’s gains that they too decide to take back power?