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CEOs AND HENHOUSES

December 5, 2016

CEOs AND HENHOUSES

I see by the morning paper that Trump has named a panel of CEOs who will advise him on making and bringing jobs back to America. Though a CEO himself, he doesn’t seem to understand that CEOs are in the exclusive business of making money, and that turning a panel of them loose in helping to determine the nuances of employment and trade policy is like turning foxes loose in the henhouse. Their only interest in employment and trade anywhere and everywhere is if it adds to their bottom lines, and to even suggest by such naming of a panel that they represent the public interest in employment and labor matters is a cruel joke.  We need not await their findings because I can tell you what they will be.

They will find that jobs will be established and brought back to America when labor here is paid what labor is paid in the Third World countries from which we currently import goods assembled or services provided there by workers who are paid at a slave wage level. In other words and as it affects us here in America, income inequality will be exacerbated as already underpaid labor will be paid even less well as the economy begins to resemble a medieval serf-noble socioeconomic re-experiment where we serfs gather the wheat outside the castle for distribution to the nobility on the other side of the drawbridge, nobility like the Kochs, the DeVoses and their courts supported by kitchen maids and scullery knaves (a/k/a compliant Republicans).

Trump would have been far better off to invite smart chickens into the henhouse of bringing jobs back to America with the naming of professors of labor economics from academia and union leaders and others who are vitally interested in actually bringing jobs to our country from within or without. His naming of CEOs to head up such a task and present their findings is pretense and their findings, however they are disguised in government legalese, are predictable.

Furthermore, given Trump’s record of ignoring advice (and not even subjecting himself to daily intelligence briefings), he will decide what he pleases in any event after reading any findings by any panel as such panels will serve as mere covers. Since Trump said that he knew more than all the generals and admirals and that he is the only one in the world who can fix (take your pick) issues relating to trade, employment, the environment etc., why even (other than pretending the final decision was the result of a collective judgment) have panels except to provide cover when such ultimate decisions and the policies made on the basis of such decisions go awry – as they likely will in time.

As my followers know, I consider wage inequality to be our number one domestic issue, proof of which can be found in the fact that median wages adjusted for inflation have stagnated for some four decades while the Dow has moved to historic highs, highs that were achieved largely through what I call wage theft, i.e., stealing the vastly improved worker productivity and stuffing it into the capital account which in turn explains the Dow’s historic highs.

As I noted in an earlier blog recently after reading an article by an economist who wrote that if wages had moved in tandem with worker productivity since the 1970s, the median wage today would be $97,000! It isn’t, so where did such increased productivity assert itself on the accounting spectrum these past 40 years? Easy. It went to Wall Street. It went to the financiers and moneychangers, not those whose enhanced productivity provided such a great hump of wealth. I am not the only one railing against wage inequality; both eminent economists Piketty and Stiglitz identify it as a major obstacle to economic growth as well. It is the single-most deterrent to economic growth since it stifles demand. Serfs don’t have much money.

Trump’s naming of CEO foxes to advise him on employment and labor in the henhouse is a theatrical exercise designed to afford him cover for later policy decisions which will be only his in any event. I reject his choice of panelists; let’s have him appoint some chickens who live in the henhouse of labor, honestly listen to their advice, and make policy decisions based at least in part upon their views. As chief executive, his duty is make policy that is in the public interest and not the bottom lines of CEOs (though such bottom lines may themselves be enhanced by good policy decisions), and parenthetically in support of my thesis, let’s not forget that foxes eat chickens.      GERALD      E

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