In Brief: We Need a Raise!

Stagnation is the hallmark of so-called recovery even in powerhouse Germany and Japan, writes David Smithers

Corporations hoarding cash

Richard Katz writes about Japan’s failed economic comeback plan in the July / August issue of Foreign Affairs, “Low-paid temps and part-timers now make up 38 percent of Japanese employees of all ages and both sexes – a stunning figure for a society that once prided itself on equality.” The nuclear power industry remains unreformed, consumer taxes are rising and Prime Minister Abe keeps intent on militarism which does not enjoy support from the Japanese public.

People in their 30s need stable employment prospects and higher wages so they can form households and think about having children. But Japan’s demography is going the wrong way for that calculus to work – the calculus that hopes the ratio of dependents to waged workers will decrease instead of increase.

In Germany, which unlike Japan still has an export surplus, growth has also slowed down. But workers there don’t want to spend, either. The former Social-Democratic / Green coalition government program of wage suppression, continued under the Christian Democrats, has similarly reduced the German workers’ buying power as it has for the Japanese.

Corporations are sitting on piles of money. Some central banks are buying government bonds (quantitative easing) in failed attempts to spark inflation and prevent deflation. But, as every worker knows, the whole world just needs a raise.

And as I have noticed at the ramp, in my driveway, and in my comrades’ empty driveway, we all need new cars! The cars are sitting unsold and rusting away by the millions – just one example of how the anarchy of capitalist production leads to crisis, the crisis of overproduction. We can’t buy them, but more and more roll out of production lines every year just like all the new “must-haves” that are too often unattainable for working people. Capitalism sucks. Anti-capitalism has to be better.

(From the Red Vine.)

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