October 8, 2016
Speaking today in Wisconsin, House Speaker Paul Ryan once again exhibited very disappointing behavior. He had yesterday criticized the just released sexist comments made by Donald Trump 11 years ago, but the did not ask the candidate to step down. He has compromised whatever values he had as an American, as a true Conservative, as a true Republican, and as a leader, by finding a way to support this demagogue as the Republican President for President of the United States of America. What a disgrace and what a tragedy Donald Trump’s election would impose upon our great nation! I expect better judgment of the Speaker of the House.
Ryan made his opening point today that we need to get people off welfare, back into jobs. Why do Republicans continue to complain about welfare and welfare recipients? Do they really think the preponderance of welfare recipients would rather “live on the dole,” than have a decent job with opportunity to advance and increase income over time? No one can know what the cohort with such a view is. It’s a matter left to one’s view of humanity. I am an optimist as to the essential nature of man. I believe that cohort is small. Most people want to work. And for those who do want to rely on welfare at this time, I am sure many of them only feel that way because they see the alternative as hopeless–no jobs or terrible jobs at minimum wages, such as the $7.25 per hour in North Carolina.
In my just previous post, I have shared my opinion of how we got here. The key problem that drives the voter frustration is lack of good jobs, lack of opportunity to change one’s economic status, and stagnant wages, while the rich have increased income and wealth dramatically and steadily since Reagan in 1980. Conservative policies (sometimes identified as neoliberalism) have advanced across this period, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Social support programs have been reduced, starved, and eliminated across that period. Republicans and their policies strongly advocated foreign trade and globalism, without concern for the displaced American workers. Isn’t it ironic that the current Republican candidate for President is disavowing foreign trade–essentially–because his stated intent to “get tough” with our trading partners will only weaken our foreign trade. Foreign trade is a huge benefit to the US, and more so for the uneducated who are supporting Trump. They don’t understand. They’ve been deceived.
Wanting to get people off welfare is not a unique Republican policy. We all want that. If they want a distinct policy to define Republicanism, let them provide a detailed prescription as to just how we are going to provide good jobs for all welfare recipients. If it makes sense, I’ll change parties and become Republican. But, it’s not going to be easy. There are a number of structural issues weighing strongly against the creation of good jobs with good wages, especially for those without a college education. Here are a few:
Technology: In a previous post I estimated that some 4 million US jobs may be lost as vehicles of all types become self driving. Technology is eliminating jobs in search for greater efficiency, and lower cost. The benefits of technological innovation are increasingly going to smaller groups of founders and employees.
Globalization: Regardless of global populist movements to close borders, globalization and foreign trade will continue, because the money and wealth creation, capitalism drives it. This means jobs will continue to be lost to foreign countries which have cheaper labor.
Education: We have starved our schools, and we are experiencing a declining percentage or our population going to college. This at a time when technology and globalization demand increasingly well educated workers, and yesterday’s factory work is eroding to technology, outsourcing, and foreign competition.
So, Paul Ryan, “let’s get people off welfare” may play to some who have been coached to resent government and all its services. But it doesn’t play with me or those who understand the issues. If you want our support, display the specifics of just how you’d do this. And remember as you lay it out–most economists see slow growth ceilings globally for the foreseeable future. And furthermore, economists agree that without redistribution, economic growth is necessary for reducing inequality, but is not sufficient. Other things must be done along with growth. The good news is that many of the positive actions to help the underprivileged do not hurt the wealthy much and help everyone to enjoy a better society. Just one example–fixing our infrastructure is one form of redistribution–helps everyone–but Republicans say no–let the bridges fail.
But Republicans won’t tolerate any form of redistribution. They want to rely on growth alone. It won’t work. Not likely I’ll be changing parties.