Progressives And George Will’s Misunderstanding Of The Issue

“America‚Äôs national character will have to be changed if progressives are going to implement their agenda. So, changing social norms is the progressive agenda.”

Setting aside the fact that he completely misunderstands the progressive agenda, what he claims is already part of their agenda isn’t, but should be!

The problem with the past 50 years isn’t sudden laziness or lack of ambition or unions or socialism (a laughable claim in the least socialist first world nation on the planet) it’s globalization. Auto manufacturing started the trend with automakers in Japan paying people in Japan far less than US workers could afford to live on. Then US manufacturers shifted productions to other countries magnifying the trend. I buy some of my clothes from Flint and Tinder, voluntarily paying more for a higher quality product made in the US. I’m in a small percentage of people willing to do that, which is why until Flint and Tinder started a couple years ago there were zero textile companies like it in the US. Electronics used to be made in places like California and Texas, now 80% or more has been shifted to China because US workers can’t live on $1-2/hr. Knowledge jobs (like mine!!) have also been shifting as India, Ukraine, Brazil and Mexico all have smart college educated people willing to work for 20-50% as much as people make in the US getting out of college. And, again, this isn’t socialism or unions, this is the fact that the cost of living is less in those countries. I can buy a comfortable house in Mexico for $40K/USD. I pay my employees in Mexico $30-60K per year for skills that would cost me $70-150K in the US. That’s just a structural disadvantage for people in the US and, again, we’re not talking about laborers hear, we’re talking about the best and brightest free market libertarians that a nation can produce.

This trend is only going to continue as machines and robotics continue to replace more and more jobs that previously humans did. Over the next 100 years there simply will not be a need for the size of workforce that we have today. Yeah, there will be some bumps in that road, the US is currently still growing jobs after a big dent during the great recession, but the overall trend will be downward.

So what does a post-labor economy look like? I have no idea. But progressives ought to be thinking about it and preparing for it and they aren’t. There is a transition that began 50 years ago and continuing for the next hundred years from a society where most people need to work for the economy to function at a level sufficient to provide basic needs, to one where very few people are needed and I have no idea how society accomplishes it. How are goods and products distributed without hours of work, physical strength, intelligence or ambition as important parts of the equation? I have no idea.

I know that, to the degree that we are already having to deal with these kinds of issues thanks to globalization, we’re failing. People on welfare don’t have enough to live on so they aren’t happy. People paying taxes are feeling the pinch and they aren’t happy. We’ll see how things pan out…

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