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Activism Finances Political Commentary

Wage stagnation vs corporate profit

Bookmarked Artists You Need To Charge More: Income Inflation (Lily Williams)

If we take the average woman artist’s 1980 income of $24,153 dollars and plug it into the US Inflation Calculator, we learn that in today’s 2021 money that would be $81,073.47. However, when we compare that $81,073 to what the 2020 Census numbers are for artists… we find that the average income in 2020 was only $52,340. Meaning, yes, artists income hasn’t adjusted for inflation since the 1980s.

We know worker productivity has gone up dramatically while wages have stagnated.

We know corporate profits have gone up and CEOs are making vastly more than workers.

We know the cost of most consumer goods as a proportion of income have gone down. (Though housing and medical care and education costs have skyrocketed. Stuff is cheap, but essential needs are laughably out of reach for many. No wonder we’re such a consumerist society, it’s all we can afford.)

So… basically all those CEOs and companies are stealing from their employees by not fairly compensating them and keeping all the profit for themselves and shareholders… and/or goods should cost more.

Why aren’t people angrier? Why are we so resistant to taxing the people who are stealing from us to provide services for all? Why are so many opposed to raising the minimum wage?

Is it possible to be rich and ethical? I’m rich as workers go, owning a house in the Seattle area in a DINK household, and have money in the stock market for retirement – so I am also stealing from the share of profits that should be given to workers. But not participating in this form of capitalism won’t help workers, it’d just hurt me by having no retirement money. Can I balance participating in the system with advocacy for workers rights?

Looking forward to reading this new book Wallet Activism by Tanja Hester. Hoping to think more about how to improve the world from within capitalism while also being skeptical of change through spending.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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