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The Resistance Prays

November 27, 2018
By Kathryn Berg

Today's Top Story
From the New York Times:  General Motors announced Monday that it would idle five factories in North America and cut roughly 14,000 jobs in an effort to cut costs. G.M. plans to lay off nearly 6,000 production workers in the U.S. and Canada, along with 8,000 salaried staff, representing more than 10 percent of its North American workforce. G.M.’s CEO, Mary T. Barra, said that that no single factor prompted the cutbacks, though a slowdown in new-car sales, changing consumer vehicle preferences, and increased costs due to Trump’s trade wars all contributed. The announcement, which devastated workers going into the holiday season, was welcomed by investors, sending G.M.’s shares up 4.8%.
Now listen, you rich people...You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. - James 5:1-5
Profits Over People
The juxtaposition of investors celebrating and workers lamenting is increasingly common and underscores how the interests of workers and shareholders are often at odds. It was not always so. An analysis by the Washington Post showed that from 1947 to 2003 corporate profits and labor income increased at similar rates, and what was good for companies was generally also good for workers. Since then, the story has changed. Profits have skyrocketed while wages have stagnated, and the American economy increasingly rewards owners and shareholders at the expense of workers. While many employees benefit from stock they own through retirement accounts, their share of profit is relatively small; over 90% of the stock market is owned by the richest 20% of families. As the interests of shareholders and workers have diverged, inequality has increased.
A number of factors have driven this divergence. While workers have grown more productive, companies have been slow to share the resultant profits with employees. As union membership has declined, workers have lost bargaining power. As health-care costs have risen, companies have shifted a greater share of expenses to workers. And though President Trump uses his populist appeal to manipulate workers’ grievances, his tax policies have further increased inequality.
General Motors' announcement is a reminder that while corporate profits are exceeding expectations, worker income is falling farther behind. Instead of celebrating the increase in share prices, we should be lamenting for those left behind. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.  It is time to pay heed.
Educate yourself about the crises of inequality and poverty. Support a living wage for workers by donating to an organization like Fight for 15.
Lord, comfort and encourage all those suffering from G.M.’s cutbacks. Bless the affected families and communities and give them strength to carry on. Help those in corporate power to appreciate and honor the people who work for them. Guide lawmakers to pass policies that reduce inequality. We pray that people not be sacrificed for profit, and we pray for a more just world. Amen.
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