Although it is years late to the party, the Wall Street Journal is finally acknowledging the negative impact that low wages have on the American economy, albeit in a twisted, delusional manner. A front page graph from Monday’s WSJ shows the decline in employee wages since 2010. The caption underneath the graph reads:
“Economists fret that stagnant wages are hampering growth in the U.S. as consumers, the biggest driver of the economy, are reluctant to spend more unless their pay grows. Workers think they can’t push for raises because they feel they have limited bargaining power.”
I would congratulate the WSJ for its willingness to accept a long standing reality, but the folks at America’s only reputable conservative news outlet still seem so intent on infecting the country with toxic ideology that they are far more deserving of rebuke.
Take the idea that “consumers are reluctant to spend more unless their pay grows.” There is quite a difference between “reluctant” and completely incapable. Consumers are only “reluctant” to spend when they have money to spend in the first place. Considering “today’s minimum wage of $7.25 buys less than the minimum wage did through all of the 1960s, 1970s and much of the 1980s,” what money does the WSJ think America’s working class is reluctant to spend. The truth is that wage earning Americans are spending every penny they make and more. The average American household carries over $15,000 of consumer debt. Wage earners aren’t reluctant to spend; they are broke. They aren’t waiting for the returns on their investments to improve; they are waiting for their next insufficient paycheck so they can pay last month’s rent.
By suggesting that wage earners are reluctant to spend money, rather than incapable, the Wall Street Journal is blaming the poor economy on the imaginary stinginess of the working class rather than the measurable stinginess of the folks in control of setting wages. Of course the folks in charge of determining wages are the same oblivious folks who read the WSJ and gladly accept those kinds of patronizing falsehoods as journalism.
The Journal’s deception doesn’t end with blaming people for not spending money they don’t have. By suggesting that “Workers think they can’t push for raises because they feel they have limited bargaining power,” the newspaper editors are missing two obvious-to-the-99% realities. First, some workers are pushing for better wages. Maybe the CEO’s of America’s biggest fast food chains were too busy dining on filets and caviar to notice, but minimum wage fast food workers in New York city and other cities have been mobilizing and striking for the past year. A national strike is scheduled for this week. So the notion that workers think they cannot push for better wages is not even close to true. Beyond that, the WSJ doesn’t seem to fathom the reality that any minimum wage earners who don’t chose to strike are most likely staying quiet because they need every hour of wages they can get. Indigent burger flippers might want to take the day off to strike, but they also want to eat and feed their families.
The Wall Street Journal’s evasion from reality is over. The jig is up. Just as liberal economists and politicians have been saying for years, wages need to rise in order for the economy to do well. But instead of fully accepting that the sky is blue and the grass is green, the editors at the journal are in full spin mode, attempting to distort the blatant truth that shatters the avaricious logic defining so many of its conservative-minded readers. It is sad, and the halfwits running that newspaper would probably do less damage if they just went back to sticking their fingers in their ears and pretending millions of minimum wage earners are just waiting for the right time to buy that new car and flat screen TV.