Saturday, May 06, 2006

It's not the 1930's or the 1940's anymore

Advice from Michael Barone for Democrats and Republicans:

Voters can't be mobilized to defend the 40-hour week, overtime pay, and sick leave; they were all first legislated back in 1938, when the large majority of voters weren't alive yet, and "go largely unchallenged even in Republican administrations." Ditto Social Security and Medicare. Nor do most Americans feel involved in an adversarial, zero-sum struggle with their employers. "Today, most people work in offices or high-end service jobs, and they believe their economic interests are more closely aligned with the companies they work for." Or, one might add, the companies they're going to work for next year. Americans, especially young Americans, change jobs all the time—or go to work for themselves.

In a sentence: "In the post-industrial economy, the great question is how government can equip workers with new tools for economic success, not how government can insulate them from the rigors of competition or restrain business power."

All words of wisdom, I think, and in line with things that I have been writing for many years. To pick up the Kansas metaphor: We're not in the 1930s or 1940s anymore. My advice to Democrats—and to Republicans, too—is to fashion government programs that incentivize, encourage, subsidize, and honor upwardly mobile behavior. Examples from the 1930s and 1940s: the GI Bill of Rights that encouraged veterans to get college educations, the FHA and VA home mortgage loan guarantees that encouraged young workers to buy their own homes. Those laws helped transform Americans from a nation of non-high school grads to a nation of people who have mostly gone to college, from a nation of renters to a nation of homeowners. In the process, they have retransformed America from a nation in which (in the 1930s and 1940s) most people did not own a significant amount of property to a nation in which people over the course of a lifetime accumulate significant property.

Democrats continue to do the same things they have always done, appeal to the same narrow mindset and hold to the hope that Republicans will implode and give them the victory which eluded them in 2004.


Rick Ballard said...

The paper about which Barone is writing is very intresting. The DLC is trying to promulgate a "reality based" view of the actual economic status of people who theoretically should be drawn to the class envy tactics of the Dems. By taking a 15 year view rather than a 1 year view they come to the less than startling conclusion that only 23% of the voting popuplation should be concerned about envy issues. The author neglects, however, to accurately describe the location and propensity to vote of the 23%. We're talking Blue Castle moat dwellers for the most part.

The paper does an excellent job of describing the shift in employment both in compensation and in type. If the lefties were intelligent enough to understand what this fellow is saying they might sit down and shut up for a while so that some sort of platform that conforms to reality might be fashioned.

The other thing that I find puzzling is that the Dems never note that their programs have been in place for 70 years and are unlikely to be overturned.

Anonymous said...


In some respects the Democrats are victims of their own success. By that I mean that people are not worried about labor rights and a safety net because those things have been provided for them...and the rest don't need them.

Rick Ballard said...


Some of those things aren't the most healthful for the economy though. I agree 100% with your central premise but the 8 hour day is tied to manual labor. Three 11 hour days would be as productive and allow for a richer life.

The Dems are tied to a static analysis economic model and are anything but 'progressive'. They really do need to examine that paper carefully if they are to have a future. I don't believe current leadership to be capable of doing so. There is still too much money and power located in the Blue Castles.

chuck said...

Three 11 hour days would be as productive and allow for a richer life.

Well, the only manual labor jobs I've had ran 10 and 12 hours respectively. The first had working hours 6 to 5 with two 15 min breaks and 1/2 hour for lunch, the other just ran four hours overtime every darn day -- and when the milk comes in 365 days a year you can't just shut down and walk away. Ask Terrye. Those jobs they weren't any of those three days a week jobs either. I wonder how many jobs really are that?

Anonymous said...


Nursing is like that.

I worked 7 days a week for years. One time I went 3 years without more than a day off the farm. Me, the cows, and the flies.

That explains why I am a little, you know, eccentric.

But the labor movement gave people something they had not had before: rights. And that was translated into labor laws which gave people certain basic protections from exploitation.