Two economists, Rick Wartzman of Claremont U. and William Lazonick of UMass Lowell, have "tall[ied] the sums of commitments from the 44 companies in the S&P 500 stock index that, according to Americans for Tax Reform, are giving their employees a bonus or a raise because of the new [tax] law."
When you add it all up, you get about $5.2 billion — $3.7 billion in one-time bonuses and an estimated $1.5 billion in annual wage increases.
But that total pales in comparison with the $157.6 billion in stock buybacks announced by 34 S&P 500 companies since early December.
Also note Wartzman and Lazonick:
Forty years ago, big companies usually paid out about half their profits to stockholders. The other half was reinvested in research and development, worker training, higher employee compensation and so on. Figures ... show, however, that 94 percent of profits over the past decade have gone to benefit shareholders directly through buybacks and dividends.
My guess: Most workers are just fine with this abomination.
My reasoning: As long as they "get theirs."
My history: As an idealistic student dwelling in the sequestered towers of academia, I extensively read about and deeply believed in worker consciousness and worker solidarity and the inexorable unification to come in the smiting of chains that bound them. As a penniless adult desperately working minimum jobs, I witnessed this rumored consciousness and solidarity in action — and it mostly consisted of workers willing to betray their mothers and sell their children and denounce their coworkers if any one of those acts meant a slightly higher wage for the traitor to solidarity. In short, I learned there was no such thing. Not in what's so coldly called "the real world."
It's true that labor unions instilled a somewhat higher level of worker consciousness — that is, some level of worker consciousness — yet unions were largely a macrocosm of the unblemished self-interest I was witnessing firsthand among non-union employees. In the postwar era, the famous Reuther brothers had attempted to do better; they had sought a unionization structure that would socialistically represent the interests of all workers. To their dismay, they quickly discovered that their members were interested in their paychecks and benefits only; the real world was a rough one to which the Reuthers had to adapt, and they did. They had tried, and they had failed.
Labor history is a complex field, especially comparative labor history. For instance why, by and large, have American workers behaved differently from their European counterparts? The debate goes on. The only agreed-upon socio-historical constant is that they have. The American attitude has always been, pretty much, "As long as I get mine," others can suffer and the already rich can get even richer. This, as noted, I witnessed firsthand as one of the distraught proletarians, and it destroyed my youthful, naive belief in worker consciousness and solidarity.
Republican pols understand all this, being heartless wankers themselves. Democrats don't, or at any rate they pretend not to. And on this issue, Republicans will win every time, because they're connecting with the deepest, most self-interested emotional viscera of underpaid American workers.