Friday, November 5, 2010

Balzac in the Heartland

As always, I love the way David Brooks of the New York Times looks at the world.

In today's column, he addresses the problems for the United States in the lack of ideas for how to put blue collar, working class Americans back to work in "the Heartland." The reality is that since America lost its manufacturing base, this segment of the population has been losing ground. For that reason they voted in droves to oust the GOP in 2006 and 2008. However, since that time, they feel like they have seen no benefit - other than unemployment benefits - from the Democrats and the attempts to "stimulate the economy." Thus, they sent the Democrats home.

The reality is that we need skilled labor, and we need jobs for the laborers. The jobs need to provide a living wage for working class people, so they can buy houses and send their kids to college. Brooks addresses some of the irony of this demographic that struggles to pay the bills on $40,000 a year, yet seems to have an Xbox and a smartphone and cable. Of course, those items cost a couple hundred dollars, but health care is $12,000 a year, and college educations run into the tens of thousands.

Something needs to be done, and my feeling is that it will take a complex blend of taxpayer backed infrastructure and higher education spending, along with a tax code that frees up money for small business investment and the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that has always driven American society.

Here's hoping.

2 comments:

Darren said...

Hope is not a battle plan, sadly. And there no real reason to believe that the problems mentioned will be fixed; the deal with the Republicans is that they'll make the problems worse much more slowly than the Democrats have done.

mazenko said...

Sad, but true.

I would agree the GOP will worsen some problems more slowly, though I fear the debt and deficit will be exacerbated by a theory that revenue will increase. I would also point, once again, to PJ ORourke who argues, "Republicans run on the platform that government can't work, and then they get elected and prove it."

Why won't both sides acknowledge the reality of needed and stimulative infrastructure spending, as well as the growth that comes from innovation?

Ugh.