16 February 2007

Employed but losing ground...

The Democrats have been in office for less than two months, and already the New York Times is sugar-coating the worsening economic realities of America's working class.

The Times looks at the latest round of factory closings and sees a glass half full (or, as our Dear Leader would say, "a half-glass-full"). Things are actually not so bad. We're not deindustrializing. The Progressive Policy Institute reports that foreign firms invest billions more in the U.S. than U.S. manufacturers invest abroad. That creates hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

This is pap. The United States doesn't have to "deindustrialize" in order to be in a negative spiral that takes us toward Bangladesh and away from Belgium. Our idolatry of celebrity, aristocracy, and wealth; the growing chasm between rich and poor; the hysteria over "illegals"; the growing acceptance of inequality — we're becoming a smaller and meaner America, even if we do still manufacture a fifth of the world's stuff.

The Times calls for retraining workers as the longterm solution. Pro-free-trade politicians risk a protectionist backlash if they don't heed people's pain.
Just to start, pro-trade politicians have to make sure that a lost factory job does not mean a drastic and lasting decline in living standards, with no access to health insurance and no hope for a college education for that worker’s children. As the tide rises, this country cannot allow millions to drown.
The reality for many Americans is worse than that, both in terms of healthcare and higher education. Those costs have risen far faster than average wages. You don't have to lose your job to see little hope of affording real healthcare coverage or something other than community college for your kids.

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