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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Please pass the gravy

With the annual Black Friday madness upon us -- and suggestions it might be a good year for retailers -- maybe it's time for American business to give thanks? By hiring people?

The Globe's Steve Syre paints a very unflattering picture of corporate America, one that has feasted on the carcass of American workers. How? It's as plain as the "productivity gains" on the fattened bottom lines.

A good way to measure the results of productivity gains is to look at a company’s profit margins. Those same big companies that make up the S&P 500 have reported an after-tax profit margin of 5.95 percent, on average, since 1993, says Howard Silverblatt of Standard & Poor’s.

The S&P 500 companies reported a profit margin of 3.63 percent during the third quarter of 2008, below average as you would expect as the economy tanked, but improved to 6.49 percent in the same quarter last year. The margin ballooned to 8.31 percent during the second quarter of this year, not far from the record high of 8.95 percent recorded in 2006.

So as our lame duck lawmakers prepare to go back to Washington, with Republicans calling for extending the tax cuts for millionaires, perhaps it's a good time to remind our Tea Party friends that the folks they voted in -- with their ties to a fat and happy Corporate America -- are intent to do whatever they can from helping you reach your dream of joining them.

So Happy Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. After all, isn't that what the holiday season is all about?

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