Monday, October 04, 2010

The liberal elite

Wall Street Journal:

Even Americans most likely to be winners from trade -- upper-income, well-educated professionals, whose jobs are less likely to go overseas and whose industries are often buoyed by demand from international markets -- are increasingly skeptical.

"The important change is that very well-educated and upper-income people compared to five to 10 years ago have shifted their opinion and are now expressing significant concern about the notion of ... free trade," said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who helps conduct the Journal survey. Among those earning $75,000 or more, 50% now say free-trade pacts have hurt the U.S., up from 24% who said the same in 1999.

After four decades of trade agreements that put blue collar, high school educated workers out of their livelihoods, the "well-educated and upper-income" have begun to feel uneasy!

Perhaps they feel the deflation at work in the value of their degrees; a BA is the new HS diploma -- is that right? I understand a PhD hardly assures you a job, and you are treated like a serf until you obtain tenure.

As we have observed here before, absent jobs, it won't matter how much education the average American receives: degrees don't produce jobs.

Capitalism is taking away jobs. On the one hand, this is due to technology in the form of automation; on the other, "good jobs" are only however many innovations away from becoming reconstituted in a low-wage form.

One of the points I try to make to the "well-educated and upper-income" is that having four decades of something like this on your back feels different than if you're only having second thoughts about it now.

You could even make the argument that people experiencing vastly different things have very different ways of expressing themselves politically, with more distressed communities less inclined to "take it down a notch for America."


Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Might also be a good time to ask what is the point of a "job" and why should anyone freak out about a "job" and a "career"?

Other than the obvious answers of money and prestige, that is. Because really, what is money? and what is prestige? Who put them on higher rungs than happiness or leisure?

Worse, who redefined "happiness" as "money + career"?

This inquiry might help tie into the observation that those who are scraping by can't easily "take it down a notch for America." Maybe those who are scraping by need to think more about why they don't have the amount of autonomy that the rich and powerful have, and what they can do about that disparity.

Maybe the hints should be something like:

"HINT: I'm not saying, get into Harvard and get an MBA."

Randal Graves said...

Oh, so being the smartest guy in the unemployment line *isn't* a worthy goal?

Hell, a job's just a way to pay the bills. I'm just glad the self-checkout machine is nearly always on the fritz.

Anonymous said...

My thought is contained in your post, but I want to emphasize if you argue that people experiencing vastly different things have very different ways of expressing themselves politically you must also note that they have other modes of expression as well. A few have access to mass media and the government itself (for reasons you have mentioned before) while most, those who have carried the loads on their backs for 40 years, have no such access. Through a combination of law, alienation, and comodification, we have lost or given up strikes, marches, pickets, popular songs, and even churches as outlets for popular protest. The only method o discontent that seems available to the bottom 60 % is passive disengagement. The ineffectiveness of writing to representatives or complaining in private, for example, reinforces the tendency to just go along This leads solely and directly to just going along. There is a long way to go to engage the power of the people carrying the load.