Stock Market at an All-Time High
It’s been all over the news yesterday and today: the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high yesterday and continued its rise today. Some liberals pointed to that as proof that Obama has turned the economy around, while the geniuses at Fox News said it was due to the talk of reducing the deficit. While most – among both liberals and conservatives – claim that it shows the economy is doing well, the truth is it’s not. If it were, the Federal Reserve would not artificially keep interest rates low to spur investing and economic activity and unemployment would not be as high as it is and has been for years. In fact, the economy is pretty anemic.
What the record high stock market shows though is that corporations are making big profits. And there is reason for that: high unemployment means lower wages, as well as less number of employees doing the work of more workers which translates into more profits. Also, low interest rates, which the Fed helps keep low, provides corporations with cheap money which instead of hiring, they use to gobble up other companies which reduces competition and further raises profits by increasing their market dominance and control, making already giant corporations even bigger. Furthermore, corporate welfare remains high and taxes low. And while most local governments and municipalities are cutting working hours and wages of their employees or laying them off, they’re selling municipal bonds to raise money to build office buildings for giant corporations who are making obscene amount of profits and don’t need such ridiculous largess from local governments who are broke, especially when people remain jobless or on poverty wages and county hospitals are closing or cutting services. These developments are good if you’re one of those corporations (which Romney calls people) or their CEO’s or large shareholders, but not if you’re one of those millions of unemployed or employed with low or stagnant wages with no or inadequate healthcare with high deductibles and co-pays.
While for most of us – and I mean the vast majority – the economy has been stuck in a recession – and not a small one, either – for corporations and the rich, it’s been anything but. If this is what recession looks like, the rich will take it any day of the week. Not only do they take advantage of high number of people being out of work which helps them push wages down and extract more work from those they keep, it also gives them an opportunity to weaken or bust unions and buy other smaller companies creating monopolies.
The Dow Jones index and corporate profits are not the only things that are at record high at this time. So is the wealth gap between rich and poor, corporate benefits, corporate welfare, wrongdoing and fraud with impunity, corporate influence in politics and elections, attacks on living conditions of working people, government eavesdropping and warrantless wiretaps on citizens, monitoring people’s communication and activities, government secrecy, curtailment of citizens’ rights, new, special and unconstitutional rights for the Executive Branch and number of simultaneous wars being waged – all good things for corporations and their domestic and international agenda and none for wage earners. Never has this society been as divided as it is now. Never have the interests of a small number of the wealthy and those of the vast majority of the inhabitants of this land been as divergent as now. In a way, maybe that’s what the index is really telling us.