Growth loved to pedal to work. And did for years. Until atrophy of the lower extremities combined with unchecked torso expansion produced such unbalance that Growth crashed. Growth stirred, then groaned, vomited and lost consciousness. 911 teams raced to the scene. Swinging into action, the paramedics checked Growth’s pulse, slapped on an oxygen mask and got the adrenaline ready.

An officer shouted, “Stop! Whose jurisdiction is this?” First responders from rival towns glared at each other. EMTs from Wages shook their heads. “Hey, guys, this is a clear case of unbalanced growth. Growth needs more Wages because wage-led growth is balanced growth. Expansions driven by Wages produce more good jobs, more economic security and across-the-board increases in the quality of life.”

“Forget it, Wages, we’ve got this,” cried paramedics for Profit. “There’s nothing to worry about. Growth is just fine. Look anywhere you want in our hometown – there’s a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage. Trickle-down works – when Growth is Profit-driven, then our little 1 percent town buys vintage wines, fine works of art, yachts and luxury cars.

“Why, we’re even gonna hire people like you to do our cleaning, cooking and yard work. When everyone (except us) works harder, Growth’ll be just fine. That’s why we’re stripping away every vestige of economic security Wages ever had. We’ll put an end to those wastrel-making programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment compensation and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance. Now, get your lazy butt back to work. ”

And with that, the Profiteers gave Growth a solid kick in the keister.

Wages’ paramedics were outraged. “That’s no way to treat Growth. The slings and arrows of outrageous economic policy caused Growth’s unbalanced growth. Cut taxes on the rich, you’ll see arms get longer. Deregulate banking, you’ll see the chest expand. Create free trade agreements, watch the shoulders bulk up. Ignore rising unemployment, observe spinal extension. Till Growth gets so top-heavy it has to fall over. Boom. Profiteers, we know you don’t want to hear this, but Growth has a dual diagnosis: lack of balance accompanied by extreme inequality.

“The situation’s grim. Compare what’s happened to incomes in Wages and in Profits over the decade from 1997 and 2007, so we avoid the impact of the Great Crash. In those 10 years, Growth in Maine’s income was just shy of 40 percent. But Growth’s distribution was disastrously unequal here – as in every other state.

“The 1 percent at the top of Maine’s income pyramid (earning, on average, $573,933 per year) saw average incomes grow by 149.4 percent. And 99 percent of us (earning, on average, $38,486 per year) saw average incomes grow by only 30.2 percent.”

“Whaddya mean, ‘So what’? We’re talking real people and real standards of living. During that decade, the average incomes of Profiteers more than doubled. For folks in the 1 percent, every $35,000 of 1997 income turned into $87,000 of 2007 income. For average Mainers, though, each $35,000 of 1997 income turned into just $45,000 of 2007 income.

“No, guys, it’s not the case that the Great Crash of 2008 was a Great Leveler. Looking at the whole period (1997 to 2011), income growth for 99 percent of Mainers averaged 13.7 percent, so each $35,000 of income for us grew to $39,795. But for the 1 percent, each $35,000 of their income grew to $65,170. So yeah, the 1 percent took a hit. But they still captured the lioness’ share of income growth.

“And that’s a huge part of why Growth’s so anemic . . . with all that income concentrated at the top, there’s less demand for goods and services. More income is stashed abroad in illegal or barely legal tax havens. The state collects less in taxes, so there’s less support for the public services – like education, public safety, highway maintenance and recreation – essential to preserving our community well-being.”

The Profiteers cracked up, laughing so hard tears ran down their faces. They pounded each other on the back.

“What a joke. Those bozos think they’re worth more. No way. We’ve got the dough because we’re better, smarter and, well, better. Outrageous economic policy – why, that’s what they’re recommending. Don’t defend Wages. Protect Profit. That’s nature’s way.”

Growth, before losing consciousness, gasped, “Wages, I need wages.”

Susan Feiner is a professor of economics and women and gender studies at the University of Southern Maine. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]