A Bit of Fifties Nostalgia
In “The America John Boehner Grew Up In,” Matthew Yglesias takes on Fifties nostalgia He points out that in many ways, it was to the left of our society, with higher unionization and much less income inequality. We find the theme of a 50’s workers paradise echoed in Thomas Frank’s “What’s Wrong With Kansas?”
In the 1950’s, we did indeed have high paying jobs, fully funded pensions and strong unions, propped up by the U.S. being the only industrial power that wasn’t in ruins after World War II. And there were people even then warning that high wages and ever increasing benefits for unskilled jobs was not a sustainable system. So when the union workers retired, the predictable happened. Their jobs ceased to exist and were replaced by lower paying jobs. The Ponzi scheme collapsed.
My whole life long, I’ve heard people lamenting that the U.S. has 5% of the population but 30% of the wealth. Now wealth is moving overseas. What did you think it would be like, people? Asia’s universities are fast approaching MIT level, while 25% of our population thinks it’s beneath their dignity to finish high school. And many of those who do go on to college go into squishy majors with fluff courses and inflated grades. Of course, they expect the chem majors to provide them with advanced medications for free and the geology majors to find them cheap, non-spilling oil.
We’re the Eloi, and the Morlocks are hungry. Social capital is as exhaustible as oil, and conservatives have been warning us about it for decades. Saying that conservatives are responsible for offshoring and loss of good jobs is like blaming Al Gore if the ice caps melt.