I could barely contain myself when reading the second of Susan Bruce’s outstanding recent posts here on income disparity. In “You’re Overpaid” Susan quotes from, and links to, a piece by conservative economic policy adviser Kevin Hassett, in which he calls for reducing workers’ incomes, arguing that high unemployment is caused by high wages, and that driving down wages will, somehow, bring down unemployment.
Hassett, by the way, chose to publish that piece when? On Labor Day.
Let me join Susan in sounding the alarm here. Hassett is no fringe wingnut, no isolated voice of unreason on the extreme far right. He’s the chief economic policy advocate at the leading neo-con think tank, practically speaking the top policy voice of corporate America and their lobbyists, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. While he’s loaded with big-time economics credentials, Hassett is perhaps best known for the 1999 book Dow 36,000, in which he and co-author James K. Glassman predicted, well, exactly that.
But if you’re willing to use your albeit-somewhat-tarnished economics credentials to attack workers’ wages and try to pit unemployed workers against those still working, some big business interests will surely still pay you lots of money.
So, Mr. Hassett still has his job. And, if Republicans regain control in Congress, they’ll be looking to implement Mr. Hassett’s economic policies — to further reduce workers’ incomes, eliminate minimum wage protections and tear-up union bargaining agreements.
But how revealing is it that Hassett and his fake “free-market” ideologues — who constantly rail against “government interference” — demand exactly that when they want to drive down workers’ incomes? When government must spend to help the economy, they bemoan short-term deficits, yet demand that government maintain their precious corporate tax loopholes so that they can protect their profits overseas. And when workers freely organize to improve their lives and livelihoods, Hassett and the bizcons cry out for government to intervene to break workers’ unions.
Hassett’s and the bizcons’ adherence to “free-market” economics is a fake. (Always has been.)
Still, his policy recommendations are serious — and dangerous. Hassett himself says their effects would be “painful” and “beastly” — something he apparently does not find problematic. Yet, those policies would only deepen the already massive chasm of income disparity in America, further depressing the economy now, and making it even more vulnerable to crises in the future.