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Big number, little benefit 


Wow, the Dow above 10,000! Is this great news, or what? USA Today gushed that "10,000 is more than a number. ... It's like Mark McGwire beating the home run record. It's like the calendar turning to the year 2000. ... It's a cultural milestone."

It's being hailed not only as a milestone for the rich, but also for the middle class, with the media reporting deadpan that "everybody" is in the stock market today.

Time for a reality check.

Everybody?! Six out of 10 Americans own no stock at all ... not through a broker, a mutual fund, a pension, nothing. And of those who do own stock, the vast majority have a tidbit that gives them no sense of ownership in the Dow, much less giving them a thrill that the thing is above 10,000. Millions of Americans are in the stock market only because their pension plans got canceled, and now they've been thrust into a 401(k), which is nowhere near as desirable, and they're not happy to be there.

Consider this reality that the establishment media never mentions: 90 percent of the value of all stocks is held by the richest 10 percent of American families. They're the privileged 10 percent who are giddy about the Dow busting 10,000. The rest of us are more concerned about finding good jobs at good wages, not to mention jobs with decent benefits and a real pension.

Here's another statistic that the media, the politicians, and the Wall Street analysts don't broadcast: Weekly wages for average workers today are 12 percent below the wages of workers in 1973. And guess what? When a corporation cuts jobs and cuts wages, the stock price of that corporation goes up ... which raises the Dow Jones Average. So the misfortune of the workaday majority, which is seeing its income go down, is a boost to the fortunes of those at the top.

What's more important for America ... a rise in the Dow, or a rise in the middle class?

Jim Hightower is an author, radio commentator, public speaker and political sparkplug from Austin, Texas. For more populist commentary, visit his website.


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