Basic Facts

My digging around in the Fortune 500 data — part of the slow progress toward the Courting Carmageddon book — shows that the annual revenues of the biggest 100 U.S.-based corporations is now (2011) equal to 50% of U.S. GDP. This is achieved with a number of employees equal to 8.7% of the U.S. labor force.

In 1954, by the way, the Top 100 took in revenues equal to 24% of GDP with employees numbering 7% of the national labor force. Thus, the revenue share has grown four times faster than the employment share, despite the rapid rise of the supposedly labor-intensive service sector of the corporate economy.

Talk about something that’s simply unsustainable! Alas, such utterly basic facts have zero chance of ever being reported in the marketing platform known as the mainstream corporate media…

McDonald’s, by the way, is not in the 2011 Top 100! It is #107…

6 Replies to “Basic Facts”

  1. Of course it’s sustainable, you silly man. Excess underclass populations will be naturally-selected out of existence, replaced by solar-powered machinery. Immortal elites will party in cyber-bodies for quite a long time.

    Take pleasure in the fact that their AI will eventually conquer them and replace them as the dominant form of life.

  2. Arka is correct – this is sustainable for quite a while. In the absence of a coherent and sufficiently widespread countervailing ideology, the increasing misery will be accepted as a part of the new normal, and the increasing reserve army of labor will continue to subsist… somehow… at the margins on crumbs, at least for the next half a century… Then, all bets are off.

    By then, the technologies to completely control and/or crush the “surplus population” will be perfected enough to make the situation even more sustainable.

    The crash may not come fast enough to enable a political solution to the problem, and as Sub-saharan africa, rural india, etc. show, no amount of suffering alone is sufficient to catalyze progressive change.

    Say hello to the enclave society – where white middle class liberals and their elite handlers, self-styled as saviors of civilization, soldier on in they hyper-high tech, hyper protected gated cities, surrounded by seas of starving masses.

    The good news (sic) is that we may have a WWIII instead, upon the conclusion of which, maaaybe some better ideas will take hold.

    That’ all I’ve got, and that’s on a day when i’m actually in a good mood :)!

  3. Michael, another interesting thing is that the rate of profit really doesn’t seem to have fallen that much at all (oligopoly market power?) – for the oil companies it is close to whopping 10%, and even Walmart, the godfather of low profit margins still shows not bad 3.5%

    Ford bitch-slaps them all with almost 15% profit.

    Oh well, I spoke to soon – that could be Oracle and Philip Morris, with ~25% each.

  4. Yeah, TCT go on with “unsustainable” theme, but we have the official Green Team Hope from Rebecca Solnit to chastise TCT for its buzzkilling exposes:

    ” The news just came in that we reached 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, the highest level in more than five million years. This is terrible news on a scale that eclipses everything else, because it encompasses everything else. We are wrecking our world, for everyone for all time, or at least the next several thousand years. But “we” is a tricky word here. Some of the people I most love and admire are doing extraordinary things to save the world, for you, for us, for generations unborn, for species yet to be named, for the oceans and sub-Saharan Africans and Arctic dwellers and everyone in-between, for the whole unbearably beautiful symphony of life on Earth that is imperiled.”

    So you seeone of these selfless Occupado movement types is going to take down the supersystem with one well-timed direct action coffee crowdsourcin, or something. Any day now. Maybe later.

  5. I cannot believe these quotes. The stereotypes about the impotent, timid, ineffectual liberal intellectuals are WAY TOO KIND.

    As for the propaganda, I can’t wait to hear another feel good story about how the small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and how such and such commonsense policy will hurt them, thereby dooming us all.

  6. Solnit looks precisely as deranged as she is. One assumes the saviors she mentions include Don Quixote McKibben and his silly gesture about a pipeline, and his new “EV.”

    As for profits, they are indeed constant — and that’s after payment of things like corporate officers and, ahem, marketing campaigns. So, the gross profit margins are actually widening as fast as corporate power is growing. Hence, this.

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