This is from a reply I posted over two years ago in response to Fred's thread: "What the hell is happening?" It seems even more relevant today.
This is indeed a very interesting topic and the answer to the posed question involes numerous social, political, and economic changes over the years that have affected virtually every sector of the working world. Below are listed several items gathered from lectures on economics, radio discussions, news, and one of the books by Thom Hartmann entitled: "Screwed: the Undeclared War Against the Middle Class.
1. For about 150 years up until late 1970s in USA wages were steadily increasing and most could see that each generation
did a little better financially and in general standard of living than the last.
2. During the last 3 decades wages have been stagnant and in some cases even decreasing if inflation is factored in.
A few explanations for these changes:
a) Introduction of computers has increased productivity
More women entering the work force
c) Increase in the number of immigrants from Central and South America
d) Deregulation of many industries and changes in trade policies and tax codes
e) Moving entire factories overseas and outsourcing
f) Weakening of labor unions
3. The effects of these changes on the business sector
a) Upper managemenet thought they died and went to heaven; they have a work force that is constantly
improving in productivity with the same wages
Profits have soared as never before allowing cash heavy companies to take over other companies and
astronomical salaries and bonuses for upper management
c) The discrepency between CEO and laborers has increased to the extent that an average CEO makes more money
before lunch on the 1st working day of the year than a laborer does for the entire year
c) During the 1st decade of this century 400 richest individuals in US have doubled their wealth
4. Effects on the working families
a) Working harder and longer hours with less time off while being happy just to have a job
Disappearance of pensions and introduction of planned retirement 401(k)s, etc.
c. Instead of higher wages working classes are provided with credit cards (more funds float to investor classes)
d. Increased cost of healthcare and education
e. At the end of their lives when illness drains lifelong savings people are given a chance for a reverse mortgage
So no inheritance for the next generation.
This outline is not meant to be comprehensive. It is from what I consider to be relieable sources and as best as I remember and it does reflect my own experience in the working world as a Registered Nurse in the hospital for over 30 years. Even doctors are struggling and some have left their private practices as they are tired of fighting with insurance companies and have joined HMOs. Believe it or not, HMOs and insurance companies tell doctors how to practice to a large extent. Some of my nurse friends have changed jobs and even occupations and have come to the conclusion that there is no where to go and
no place to hide. Most hope that they can last until their retirement.
I am told that the brightest minds in USA have chosen not to enter medical schools. Instead, they have gone into insurance, management, or investment banking. That's one reason why there are so many foreign MDs in USA. And these minds are indeed bright; they don't have to deal with unwashed masses, they tell doctors what to do, they make a ot more money than MDs, and even when they run a company into the ground and fail, they end up with aseverence package/golden parashoot.
But, this is photography forum.... in the 90's just by word of mouth I made over 25% of my income from portrait work.
It all dried up when the new century started. And that is the same story I hear from professional commercial and advertising photographers know in San Francisco.
My examples and information are US based, but from all that I have gathered the same scene may apply to other parts of the world. If memory serves me they are attempting to change labor policy in France - longer working week - to be competitive in the world market. And my relatives in European Eastern Block tell me they feel enslaved by the emerging corporate culture even with the high hopes of joining EU.
So the short answer to your question: "what the hell is happening?" - is what is and has been happening for a few decades is that increasingly more money and power has been going into fewer hands leaving the vast majority of the population in the industrialized world (working classes) destitute and struggling.
I would be very interested in reading ideas on this topic from different parts of the world.
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16 Equipment & Techniques / Medium Format / Film / Digital Backs Ė and Large Sensor Photography / Suggestion on RZ67 lenses for digital use on: December 05, 2009, 12:03:28 AM
T-1000, Thank you.