Letters to the Editor for the October 7, 2013 weekly print magazine:
Too many lawmakers cannot see that increasing the share of wealth at the top by weakening the middle class leads to less spending, lower profits, and a slower economy.
Reading the recent tribute to former Washington, D.C., bureau chief and Monitor Breakfast creator Godfrey "Budge" Sperling Jr. was like a warm and vivid visit with Budge himself.
South Lake Tahoe, Calif. and Santa Barbara, Calif.
After reading the Sept. 9 cover story, "5 lessons of the Great Recession," I was particularly interested to come across a statistic that US income inequality is the worst since 1928.
The fact that income inequality, which has been steadily rising for the past 30 years, culminated in the second worst economic panic in the nation's history, followed by an anemic recovery and unprecedented weakness in job growth, should cause policymakers to consider what has happened to the American middle class.
The Great Depression was followed by unprecedented growth for nearly 40 years. With strong labor unions and federal programs such as the GI Bill, a thriving middle class was created, and growth was evenly spread through all economic classes. But in the early 1980s, unions began declining, wages stagnated, tax policy encouraged outsourcing and offshoring, and tax breaks were skewed toward the wealthy, culminating in the Bush administration tax cuts.
With an economy that is 70 percent driven by consumer spending, the only road to economic prosperity is to get money back into the hands of the people who will spend it – the middle class. In 1914, Henry Ford nearly doubled the wages of his factory workers, reasoning that he would sell more cars if his workers could afford to buy them.
It is a mystery to me that some in today's wealthy class and too many lawmakers cannot see that increasing the share of wealth by weakening the middle class leads to less spending, lower profits, and a slower economy. This is not class warfare; it is simple economics.
Thank you to David Cook and to all at the Monitor for the exceptional Sept. 23 tribute to former Washington, D.C., bureau chief and Monitor Breakfast creator Godfrey "Budge" Sperling Jr. ("Pioneer of newsmaker journalism"). It included such wonderful quotes. Reading it was like a warm and vivid visit with Budge.