Albion Monitor /Commentary

The Dow...And the Rest of Us

by Jim Hightower

The media can't find adjectives glowing enough to tell us how swell today's economy is. One analyst simply said: "It doesn't get any better than this."

Meanwhile, back down on earth, the economic reality for the workaday majority definitely could get better. Wages have stagnated and good jobs continue to disappear. In the same week that the Dow soared through the 8000 barrier, for example, International Paper cut 9,000 jobs, Woolworth closed 400 stores and put 9,000 of its employees at risk and Reynolds Metals dumped its aluminum can business, canning hundreds of its workers.

The day International Paper slashed 10 percent of its work force, Wall Street investors cheered lustily, sending IP's stock prices surging by 10 percent. If you're keeping score, that's workers down 10 percent, Wall Streeters up 10 percent. And the media hails this as good news.

At the same time, though, economic analysts are wringing their hands and wondering why people aren't buying as much as they used to, causing retail sales to be "sluggish." Excuse me, I know I'm not bent over double with IQ, but might there be some connection between jobs being knocked down . . . and retail sales falling off?

As for Reynolds Metals abandoning one of its core businesses, one investment analyst said that this is [quote] "a company with extremely strong assets that haven't been well run." Isn't that something?! The corporate chieftains messed-up, but they don't pay the price -- they're still drawing fat paychecks, hauling home bonuses and being assured of golden pension payments -- while hundreds and hundreds of working families are out the door and out of luck.

While the media is dazzled by the fireworks of the Dow shooting higher and higher, America's down-to-earth majority is being knocked to its knees . . . and that's the real story.

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Albion Monitor August 31, 1997 (

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