Now, they weren't going to diminish their by-now record profits by actually paying the workers commensurately with their increased productivity. O, my, no.... That was a gain the bottom line wasn't going to give back. That was where the bonuses came from. So-called "Human Resources" are always the most expensive part of doing bidness, so they figured to increase profits by stiffing the workers. But they had to be careful.
So, since in a consumer economy, consumers have to have money with which to consume, the gang of thieves who were Raygun's henchmen decided to relax credit.
This is NOT, of course, the same thing as increasing wages, but it sorta FEELS like it. And there was a already growing the various bubbles that would camouflage the incipient disasters.
But nobody seemed to notice; and if they noticed, nobody--notably, not the rapidly consolidating, corporatizing, consumerizing Press--was saying anything about it. Not prudent; not good bidness...
Relaxing credit requirements, making more credit available even (especially) at high cost had two desired and desireable effects: 1) It preserved the consumer economy, at least for a while, and 2) it indentured the consumers to the credit agencies. An indebted people is a docile people. Probably, there was a third: it made folks THINK they were acting like the Elites, who did nothing to dispel the illusion.
They could'a got away with it, indefinitely, probably.
But (and this is one of those [pesky immanent contradictions of unbridled Kapitalismus, they got grabby. In the minds of this cabal, finance is a zero-sum game. What you have, I haven't got, and to win I need it ALL...
SO, in '99 and '00, with a vulnerable, "moderate" president over a barrel, they unleashed the genies, thinking (perhaps; probably they didn't care if) they had the 'spells' to control 'em.
You will have noticed that there have not yet been passed and sent to The Prez any legislation to repeal or supersede any of the Gramm/Rubin/Summers/Greenspan de-regulatory excesses? In fact, I don't think any have even been introduced.
So what now? I suppose we can't just stand on the Capital steps and chant: "I repeal thee, I repeal Thee, I REPEAL THEE!!!" And the genies will placidly return to their bottles?
No, it's gonna take legislation, and there is very little in the unfolding of the legislative dramas recently with respect to the bail-outs and the budget that should give one much confidence that even legislation will entrap the creatures again...Especially under the circumstances, and with the contentions that writing and passing such legislation would entail.