EDITORIAL: Grim numbers and a chance for change

A couple of economic reports grimly confirm what workers across the U.S. already know from their own experience.

One report shows median hourly wages declining 2 percent since 2003, when adjusted for inflation, despite steady rises in productivity. “As a result,” The New York Times pointed out this week, “wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960s.”

Workers’ benefits have also fallen behind inflation. And a recent Census Bureau report shows 37 million Americans, or more than one in eight, lived in poverty last year. Almost one-fifth were children under age 18.

No wonder that polls show more and more people disapproving of President Bush’s handling of the economy.

Problems stemming from the growing dominance of giant transnational corporations have been apparent for decades. But the devastating effect on U.S. workers and especially on minorities has escalated under George W. Bush, whose motto seems to be, “Take from the little guy and gal to give to the rich.”

The Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina offer prime examples. More than $300 billion of our money — that should pay for health care, schools, affordable housing and more — has gone to sow death and destruction in Iraq. Billions have sunk into boondoggles for corporate giants like Bechtel and Halliburton, who have disastrously failed to “reconstruct” Iraq.

In the swath of Gulf Coast devastated by Katrina and Rita last year, those same corporate giants — joined at the hip with the Bush administration — reap billions for their failure to rebuild. Meantime, hundreds of thousands live in abject misery while they try to rebuild their lives without federal aid.

We have a chance to start changing the picture. Taking back control of Congress from the far-right won’t solve all the problems. But it will open new paths to fight to end the Iraq war and give human needs the priority they should have in U.S. government policies.

Two months remain until Election Day. Let’s do it!