Bill Moyers Journal: LA Labor + Wages & Work + Gilded Ages

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Bill Moyers Journal

June 13, 2008

LA Labor

In the BILL MOYERS JOURNAL coverage of the union march from “Hollywood to the docks” viewers met Jaron Quetel, a clerk at University California Los Angeles (UCLA) and a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Quetel is trying to join the middle class, and support his young son. As Quetel explains:

“Working the best job I’ve ever had in my whole life, I’m still– I mean, I am a breath away from drowning. I’m $20 away from being on the street. I am one car payment away from being re-po’ed. I’m barely surviving. I’m leading a substandard lifestyle because I make substandard wages.”

transcript and video

Holly Sklar on Wages and Work

Are we living the American Dream in reverse? Study after study has shown that rather than leading the world in economic mobility — the United States has become the most unequal nation in the western world. According to a new study reported in THE NEW YORK TIMES, “The chance that children of the poor or middle class will climb up the income ladder, has not changed significantly over the last three decades.”

But it’s not just a matter of joining the ranks of the wealthy. THE ECONOMIST put the matter starkly: “After you adjust for inflation, the wages of the typical American worker — the one at the very middle of the income distribution — have risen less than 1% since 2000. In the previous five years, they rose over 6%.” Writer and activist Holly Sklar joins Bill Moyers to talk about the battle for “a living wage.”

transcript and video

Steve Fraser on Gilded Ages

The BBC reported startling economic equality figures in a recent documentary: the top 200 wealthiest people in the world control more wealth than the bottom 4 billion. But what is more striking to many is a close look at the economic inequality in the homeland of the “American Dream.” The United States is the most economically stratified society in the western world. As THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reported, a recent study found that the top .01% or 14,000 American families hold 22.2% of wealth — the bottom 90%, or over 133 million families, just 4% of the nation’s wealth.

Additional studies narrow the focus: This from the Pew Foundation and THE NEW YORK TIMES: “The chance that children of the poor or middle class will climb up the income ladder, has not changed significantly over the last three decades. “This from THE ECONOMIST’S special report, “Inequality in America:” “The fruits of productivity gains have been skewed towards the highest earners, and towards companies, whose profits have reached record levels as a share of GDP.”

transcript and video

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BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Holly Sklar on Wages and Work | PBS



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2 thoughts on “Bill Moyers Journal: LA Labor + Wages & Work + Gilded Ages

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