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Playing with economic dynamite 

Lowdown

Wow — profits are up, the stock market is roaring, corporations are awash in cash, CEOs are reaping fabulous paychecks again, and holiday spending reached its highest level in four years. Forget last year's talk of gloom, all economic indicators are now on zoom, headed for a new boom!

Well, maybe not all indicators. There is that pesky little problem of joblessness, for instance.

Most politicos and economists, however, no longer want to be bothered with the fact that millions of our people are either unemployed or underemployed. Jobs, they say dismissively, are merely a "lagging economic indicator," a problem that'll take care of itself in the by and by.

But jobs have been "lagging" for years now, and there's no sign that this problem will ever take care of itself. To the contrary, America's corporate elite have learned that they can prosper by deliberately holding the workaday majority in a new normal of job insecurity.

No one at the top wants to admit it, but big business has quietly been imposing a structural transformation on our economy, shifting from a workforce of permanent employees to one in which most jobs are temporary, scarce, low-paid, without benefits and with no upward mobility. Of the 1.2 million jobs created by the private sector last year, for example, 26 percent were temporary positions, and in November, temp jobs were 80 percent of that month's total.

What's happening here is the intentional dismantling of America's middle-class structure. The Powers That Be can talk all they want about a boom, but working families — America's majority — know better. "A boom for whom?" they ask. They can plainly see that self-serving elites are jerry-rigging the job market, lowering the standard of living and closing opportunities for millions. The elites haven't figured it out yet, but they are playing with economic and political dynamite that really might go boom!

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