Wow, it's 1:40 p.m. and this editorial by Samuelson has evoked exactly zero
comments. Must be a hot-button topic. Or maybe Samuelson is just becoming
irrelevant if he can't provoke either the Right or the Left.His
editorial gives some interesting data, but it ignores the underlying question:
Why are American workers making less money as time passes? What are we doing
wrong in our economy if fewer people can find meaningful work at a decent wage?
We need to think outside the box a bit rather than sit around wringing our hands
over the loss of decent-paying jobs.
Samuelson makes excellent points, and combined with the economic analysis
showing how technology is - and will accelerate - making life even more
difficult for job seekers (and current employees), this poses some thorny
questions for our society and traditional political orientations.For
Democrats / liberals - does a tax redistribution scheme really address the
underlying problems? Where do we go if every kid gets a reasonably equal
opportunity, but the equality of economic results becomes even more sharply
skewed?For Republicans / conservatives - if you really espouse
family values, how do you sit by and do nothing to address the economic
conditions that put so much pressure on families, that even discourage the
formation of families? When it comes down to it, are conservatives really just
Darwinists - survival of the fittest, "don't tread on me"? Or can
they think outside their historic ideology to take strong measures to help
families (and by extension, our society, and conservatism)?Nasty
questions, no easy answers.
Let's bring this back to a far deeper level. Back in the nineteenth century
most conservatives were opposed to capitalism, industrialization, and free trade
because they believed those things to be antithetical to conservative values
which esteemed stable families, stable communities, and established ways of
doing things. The fears of these conservatives were spot on.But now
in the twenty-first century capitalism, industrialization, and free trade are
the established way of doing things, even though they have been proven to be
destructive of conservative ideals. So where do we go? The one time in history
that we seemed to achieve a good balance was in the U.S. from 1945-1975.
Families and communities were strong and the working class prospered. It was government policy that made working class prosperity and stability, and
it could do so again if our government would stand up to the plutocracy instead
of doing their bidding.