FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Flattened Economy of the Rocky Mountain West

Missoula,
Montana

The economy of the Rocky Mountain West,
particularly in the states of the Northern Rockies, has thrived
because of our burgeoning middle class. For more than half a
century people who were once low-income earners have found their
way onto the “up” escalator and into the middle class.

A continuing series of enlightened
strategies by both the public and private sectors have steadily
carried westerners and many other Americans from near poverty
to middle class and even beyond toward wealth. It is the vitality,
productivity and spending power of middle-income people here
in the West that has spurred our economy, protected our small
businesses and, yes, made multi-millionaires in the Rockies and
throughout America.

The most recent news is that
last year, 2004, middle-income workers suffered an across-the-board
pay cut for the first time in 14 years. That news has had a disquieting
effect on economists, Wall Street, organized labor, and others
who appreciate the value of middle-income purchasing power to
the West’s economy.

However, it is starkly obvious
that not everyone is losing access to the escalator. Corporate
bonuses, skyrocketing salaries, stock options, and numerous other
payouts have assured upper income earners of some very good years.
A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute finds that in
2004 an astonishing 95% of workers found no after-inflation increase
in their pay envelopes, while the top wage earners were doing
very well indeed with salary increases and bonuses for chief
corporate executives skyrocketing more than 14%.

With the increasing inflationary
pressures on the rise, most notably the $2.15 per gallon for
gasoline, soaring prices for new homes, and a staggering 7% per
year increase in healthcare costs, the middle-income squeeze
is on. Astonishingly the President and the U.S. Congress seem
determined to reverse gears and put the “up” escalator
on the downward path, while continuing to line the pockets of
the already rich. A $290 billion tax cut for the wealthiest sliver
of Americans is poised to pass the Congress and be joyfully signed
by George W. Bush. At the same time, cuts are proposed for Social
Security, Medicaid, job training and effort after effort that
have historically moved people from economic hard times into
the middle class.

These strategies, both public
and private are not random but rather are purposeful. They are
bad economics for America and particularly harmful here in the
West where middle-income workers represent the region’s bread
and butter.

Pat Williams served nine terms as a U.S. Representative
from Montana. After his retirement, he returned to Montana and
is teaching at the University of Montana where he also serves
as a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Rocky Mountain West.

More articles by:

Pat Williams served 18 years as Montana’s Congressman. He now lives in Missoula where he teaches at the University of Montana.

January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail