Albion Monitor /Commentary

The Middle-Class Implosion

by Jim Hightower

Eight out of ten of us have lost income during the past five years
One day, one newspaper, one page.

The day is Nov. 12th, the papers is the New York Times, the page is C4 ... [newspaper rustling] and the issue is jobs. Or the lack thereof.

While the Powers That Be keep pretending that there's nothing but "Boom Times" in our land, most Americans are asking, "a boom for whom?" Eight out of ten of us have lost income during the past five years, despite the claims that these have been years of unprecedented prosperity.

Yes, there has been terrific worker productivity, and working folks have generated a tidal wave of new wealth. But the gains produced by the Many ... have been hijacked by the few.

Check-out page C4 of the November 12th New York Times. On this page are reports of a single day's worth of downsizings, starting with Kemet Corporation, a South Carolina electronics company that announced it was moving 1,000 jobs to Mexico. Federal-Mogul, an auto parts manufacturer in Michigan announced it was closing 13 service centers and eliminating those jobs. Likewise Petrie Retail Inc. announced it would close 96 of its women's clothing stores and dismiss its employees. Donna Karen the seller of high dollar fashions, also announced this same day that it would cut 15 percent of its workforce to jack-up the price of its stock. And Waste Management Inc., the nation's largest garbage collector, announced it was cutting 1,200 employees.

Another story announces that underwear maker Fruit of the Loom will shed 2,900 jobs, completing its drive to move all of its sewing operations to Mexico. The headline story on page C4, though, went to Kodak, which announced new cuts of 10,000 jobs -- bringing its total job elimination this decade to more than 55,000.

From underwear to garbage, electronics to film, the "boom" you hear in our economy is really the implosion of the middle class.

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Albion Monitor December 22, 1997 (

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