Thursday, September 18, 2008

Harry Truman

"The underlying differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties boils down to a very simple thing. The Republicans believe that the power of the Government should be used, first of all, to help the rich and privileged people of this country. With them property comes first. The Democrats believe that the powers of the Government should be used to give the common man some protection, and a chance to make a decent living. With the Democrats the people come first.

"The Democratic Party is a political organization that has a heart--it cares about the people--it cares about all the people, rich and poor alike. The Republican Party is ruled by a little group of men who have calculating machines where their hearts ought to be.

"Sometimes the Republicans aid their clientele by special favors--like the rich man's tax cut bill which was passed by the 80th Congress over my veto--or like their attempts to give away the Nation's oil resources to all the big oil interests.

"Sometimes the Republicans aid their special friends by doing nothing--by a philosophy of each man for himself and the devil take the hindmost. That's why they've fought such measures as minimum wage laws, social security, and the protection of the right of labor unions to organize. All these things and others like them have been opposed by the Republicans."

Harry S Truman
October 6, 1952

I don't know if this is a true quote for Truman. I've tried to find it on the Internet for confirmation but to no avail. I read it in the comments section of an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Regardless, I thought it worth discussing. I agree with the overarching theme - that the Republicans seem to believe that providing for and protecting the interests of those with property (and wealth) is better for the rest of us than looking out for the common person in the middle and lower classes. The rhetoric goes that when you give monetary breaks to those who create jobs, they will pass along the wealth to the consumers and to their employees which will in turn foster healthy economic growth.

That's not what happens, as we can see by the ever expanding gap between what CEOs of corporations earn versus the wage earners they pay at the low end. I found this information from 2005:
  • CEO compensation is out of orbit: At the 350 largest public companies, the average CEO compensation is $9.2 million. Compensation for oil and gas execs increased by 109 percent between 2003 and 2004.
  • In 2004, the average CEO received 240 times more than the compensation earned by the average worker. In 2002, the ratio was 145 to 1.
  • These levels of CEO compensation are not the norm for the industrialized world. Typically, CEO pay in other industrialized countries is only about onethird of what American CEOs make.
  • Highly-compensated CEOs are not being rewarded for performance with the interests of shareholders in mind, the “textbook” explanation of CEO compensation, according to an extensive body of research and reporting.
  • After-tax profits are booming and corporate America can easily afford to offer fair wages and benefits to rank and file employees. Unfortunately, while CEOs have enriched themselves, middle-class families have taken hard hits to their paychecks, their health coverage, and their pension plans.
Something's not right. And I don't know why we think that the Republicans will be motivated to fix it.

Also, don't you find it scary to think that we've been urged to tie our retirement earnings to the stock market rather than retaining our social security?


Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

Republicans like to accuse Democrats of stirring up class warfare...but...nothing will stir up class warfare faster than the growing gap between the rich and the poor. History bears this out...

Kansas Bob said...

We started noticing this CEO compensation disparity at AT&T in the late 80s after the government broke the company up. There didn't seem to be an accountability vehicle in place to match CEO performance with compensation. What we started to notice was that the problem involved America's strongest union. Unfortunately that union still runs most corporations.. and I don't think that either candidate or party can make a difference.. seems like they would have by now if they had the political will.