From The New York Times, August 28, 2006 (via):
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.
As a result, 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 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”
From George Caffentzis, October 2002 (pdf):
[I]ncreasing the immediate profits of the oil companies, though important, is not the consideration that makes Iraq the first object of the new Bush policy. Oil and natural gas are basic commodities for the running of the world’s industrial apparatus, from plastics to chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and energy for cars and electric power plants. Whoever controls the commodity, its price and the profits it generates, has a powerful impact on the whole capitalist system. Yet oil is an unusual commodity. It is exempt from the rules of neoliberalism. The trading rules of the WTO do not apply to oil; and OPEC, a self-proclaimed if not completely successful oligopoly, is tolerated in a period when the “free market” ought to be determining the price of all commodities, especially basic ones. How could it be that even though OPEC now controls about 80% of the “proven oil reserves,” it operates in contradiction to the larger rules of the neoliberal game? No wonder neoliberalism is in crisis.
From the Bush Administration’s viewpoint, OPEC needs to be either destroyed or transformed in order to lay the foundation of a neoliberal world that would be able to overcome the crisis and truly control the energy resources of the planet.
A US-sponsored Iraqi government committed to neoliberal policies would definitely be in a position to undermine OPEC from within or, if it leaves OPEC, from without. Such a transformation would make it possible to begin a massive investment in the energy industry that might be an alternative to the spectacular failure of the high-tech sector that has dissolved hundreds of billions of dollars. Rather than the now-uncertain computer- and biotechnology-sectors, the more “traditional” oil-driven sectors will be given primacy in re-launching profitability.