Whatever billionaires have is never enough. But if you're middle class, having an iPhone (or smartphone of any flavor, I suppose) should satisfy us. At least, in the Gospel According To Jamie Dimon.
“It’s not right to say we’re worse off,” Dimon told the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday during a q&a with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. “If you go back 20 years ago, cars were worse, health was worse, you didn’t live as long, the air was worse. People didn’t have iPhones.”
Dimon, whose bank has invested $100 million in Detroit’s revitalization, also criticized an argument that no-one actually makes. The billionaire told Todd “you can take the compensation of every CEO in American and make it zero and it wouldn’t put a dent into” inequality.
I can look back to 20 years ago and remember the days when I didn't have an iPhone but was making exponentially more money until Dimon and his hedge fund cronies cut the legs out from under us. So I didn't have an iPhone, but I could actually do things. Go places, see people.
Now I have an iPhone so I can watch other people go places and do things on Facebook. Yeah, that's some real economic progress there.
It’s natural for Dimon to defend today’s level of inequality. His industry practically created it, exporting business practices that shovel ever-greater returns to executives at the expense of frontline workers to industries where the model is less appropriate than in finance — and more harmful to the real economy. As Congress lowered restrictions on the financial industry and shrank tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, it also made stock-based CEO pay tax deductible. Together, the changes ushered in a rapid explosion in inequality from a sustainable level to its current dangerous heights.
The share of total corporate income that goes to workers is at its lowest levels since 1950. Other than three natural resurgences during the past three recessions — when corporate profits drop, the denominator involved in calculating the labor share of income shrinks, driving the figure up almost automatically — corporate allocations to working folks have been dropping like a cartoon anvil since Reagan took office. Wages have ceased to grow at all, let alone to keep pace with ever-increasing workforce productivity.
That assumes that you're someone who can actually be a "worker." Today's 1099 economy means less people are employees and more people are contractors, leaving them with the bill for their health insurance and Social Security taxes. If you're over 50, don't count on the workforce welcoming you back with anything like open arms unless you're looking for something for minimum wage with no benefits.
According to this article, Dimon appeared at a Q&A with Chuck Todd, which presumably will be part of this Sunday's Meet the Press. Before that airs, I'd just like to suggest that we all greet Mr. Dimon's appearance with a middle finger image projected on our iPhones and posted to Twitter and Facebook.