I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why So Angry?

Daniel Henninger in the WSJ cannot understand why we can't all just get along:
To be clear: The anxieties Mr. Obama is describing are real. But not everyone can spend 40 years pouring concrete or driving a city bus. Eventually, instead of a president ranting constantly about "greed and recklessness," we're going to need a national leader willing to spend his time in office getting everyone, from top to bottom, believing they are on the same national team.
Well, gee, since we're all on the same team, I guess we're all going to have each others backs, right? Because a team rises and falls together; a team shares both the glory and the pain. And a team certainly wouldn't accept that the vast majority of our economic gains over the last 25 years went to the top 1% of this country.

But Hennenger, like most conservative pundits, knows who to blame: our latest scapegoats, the schools!

No idea in the literature of economics or social science the past 15 years has received more elevation than the relationship in a modern economy between educational attainment and income. Whose fault is it that public schools in blue-collar districts ill-prepare so many working-class "graduates" to get and hold modern jobs? Did Wall Street ruin the schools, too?

For years business leaders have begged the public sector to upgrade the skill sets coming out of the schools. Before the recession, I recall a piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a Great Lakes tugboat maker who said he couldn't find people with the smarts to do the high-level welding his boats demanded. Our economy has been free-riding on corporate training programs for years and may discover post-recession that the real unemployment rate sticks at just below 9%, as in Europe.
I'm sure that tug boat welder isn't worrying too much about finding workers anymore. And I'm sure Wall Street just loves these soft labor markets, keeping wages and benefits low and workers nice and compliant.

Of course, the Masters of the Universe have been complaining about schools for years: yesterday's David Kearns (Xerox CEO) becomes today's Bill Gates (you've probably heard of him). Do they really think EVERYBODY is going to go to a Ivy League school and become a bond trader?

The fact is many people went to school, got their training for the "modern economy," and are currently getting screwed. But even then: by definition, not everyone can be above average. There should be a place for all people who work hard and play by the rules, no matter their aptitudes or skills. That doesn't mean everyone gets rich; it only means everyone is given a chance to make a decent life.

But to Henninger, that belief puts me on the level of Chairman Mao:
Aspects of Mr. Obama's early agenda for education as the answer to the income gap were hopeful, but that is being backed out by his deeper class-justice obsessions. So much of what the president has done so far looks as if he believes the primary solution to the inexorable global economic pressures on the U.S. is to simply engineer a massive wealth transfer downward.
Wrong - the goal is to STOP the massive transfer of wealth upward. A transfer that is only taking place because the system has been rigged and we now have a barely functioning kleptocracy that protects wealth instead of creating it.

Let's have one of my favorite political philosophers explain it for you:

Do you get why there might be a little anger out there?


maatthias said...

I've been getting WSJ delivered for last few months. It's an excellent newspaper provided one tears out the last 4 pages. I was so incensed the first week I *gasp* wrote a letter to the editor.

Duke said...

Give it time - Rupert Murdock is already working on the business pages. He will bring the rest of the paper down to the level of the op-ed section soon.