My thesis for some time has been that one key feature of the American financial landscape is that We the People are irrelevant. How we suffer, how little we make, how long we go without work altogether — none of this matters. We the People are The Other. The decision-makers in Congress, on Wall Street, in boardrooms, know that they are exempt, immune to whatever befalls us.
Thus, news like today's from Dow Chemical is common. Dow announced that it is slashing 5,000 jobs — 11% of its labor force. Wall Street loved this news, Dow's stock soared.
Scan the past 20 years of labor news and you will find that, more often than not, Wall Street responds well to news of job cuts. It takes something really drastic, like the news of 533,000 job losses in one month, to dismay investors.
Why? Well, the easiest short-term way to improve the bottom line is to cut jobs. And the bottom line is all that matters. Needless to say, just as corporations are bemoaning the terrible state of things and laying people off, they are still finding ways to compensate executives. AIG, one of the leading recipients of bailout money, promised to cut bonuses — then reintroduced bonuses with a new name . . . a rose by another name.
So it goes. With 'globalization' (of profiteering, not of labor), it is increasingly possible for corporations to profit without employing people domestically. The illogical, irrational extreme of this trend is a nation with an elite class of millionaire and billionaire owners and investors and a vast underclass of people underemployed, unemployed, poor.