Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Government Can't Solve The Problems We Got

Never mind about the white working class and the collapse of good jobs at good wages in the manufacturing sector.

We know that President Trump's promises to the white working class on that score are empty. There is just not going to be a world in which kids can sorta graduate from high school and go down the street and sign on at the local steel plant for a lifetime job.

But it is worse than that. It's not just manufacturing jobs. Now it is retail jobs. My Man Kevin Williamson tells the grim tale, in a piece built around the jolly old days of  Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the not-so-jolly days of a boarded-up retail mall in Oklahoma.

Retail jobs are collapsing, and that is dead serious because there are millions of people (especially, I suspect, white working class women) who have learned the life of work from an entry-level job in retail. Here is a middle-aged woman looking back on her first retail job.
Now that she is an adult with children of her own, she understands that what she was actually investing in was learning how to have a job. “I had to be accountable,” she says. “I had hours, had to be there on time, had to be clean and dressed appropriately. And I had to interact with people in a way I hadn’t before: In a job like that, you have to answer questions, and if someone is kind of mean to you or critical, you can’t stomp off and cry. I wasn’t a kid at work — I was an employee.”
I think that this is the single most underappreciated contribution of capitalism. Even if the customer is mean to you, you still suck it up. Your job, whatever it is from CEO to retail clerk, is to become a servant of the exchange economy, which is all about serving other people.

But those jobs are going away, say Kevin:
At the highwater mark, there were about 5,000 malls in the United States, and there are now 1,100, at least 400 of which are expected to close in the next few years. 
Ouch. And what about the people getting their first entry-level job at the mall?

What shall we do? Where shall we go?

What we must not do is act like Hillary Clinton.
The funniest episode in the protective yet revealing new Hillary Clinton profile arrives when we learn that this sad, unemployed, 69-year-old lady is so desperate to keep her self-image alive that she still employs flunkies and retainers to treat her as though she actually were the president, or the secretary of state, or a president in waiting, or at very least the leader of the opposition.
Sorry, Hillary, it's over. And the worst thing in the world when you are over is to have people telling you that everything is copacetic, and nothing needs to change.

Now back to the economy.

The fact is that we don't have a clue what is coming in the next few years: culture, politics, economy-wise.

And yet our political institutions are all set up to service the current economy. Let us start with the education system, a dreadful, slow, mindless government monopoly.

OK, kids, quick! What should we do with the education system to prepare the next generation of kids for the jobs of tomorrow?

Exactly. Nobody has a clue, least of all in politics and government.

Now, my view is that the point of government is that it is designed to prevent change, most obviously the age-old change of pirates and predators appearing one morning and raping and pillaging the place until the men are dead and the women carted off into slavery.

That sorta worked in the agricultural age when nothing changed on the growing-of-food front. Not any more. Today the market and its prices decide everything, whether people like it or not. The reason the market must decide, whether you like it or not, is the Great Enrichment, which has increased per-capita income by 3000% in the last 200 years.

Imagine saying that the one most amazing thing is all history that has really made a difference, is just a trick, a mirage, as the left has been doing for 150 years.

Imagine a government, any government, planning and executing the Great Enrichment. Exactly. It is impossible. Let us just ask what government would have done about the losers in the successive economic revolutions, the machine textile revolution that put the hand spinners and then the hand weavers and I know not what out of work. And then the railroad revolution that must have put Charles Dickens carter, Mr. Barkis, out of work. And the oil revolution that put the sperm-whale hunters like Capt. Ahab out of work.

The point is that, whatever the particulars of each  economic revolution, life went on, and the losers kinda faded away like the handloom-weaver father of Andrew Carnegie.

We are seeing the fading away right now of the white working class, whose men operated the manufacturies and whose women worked in retail.

So where shall we go, what shall we do?

To me, Fact One is that the current ruling class, the educated liberal elite, doesn't have a clue. All it knows is what it wants for itself, creative jobs and the delicious conceit of leading the People of the Subordinate Self towards Peace and Justice.

But suppose the ruling class is wrong? Suppose its approach to education only works for the children of the educated class? Supposing its single-payer health care notion crashes the health system? Suppose that its one-size-fits-all pension system runs out of money?

If we had market-driven education, health care, and pensions, then all these "systems" would self-correct as the world turned. It wouldn't be easy, and people would suffer. But under the current system plenty of people are suffering, plenty of people are going to suffer in the near future, and yet nothing is changing.  The poor have been utterly betrayed by the current system for the last 50 years, and nothing is changing. Scratch a liberal and they have no ideas, except the move the deckchairs on the Titanic and ask for more money.

But now we are on the brink of really big-time change, that no government program or ruling-class conceit has any clue about what to do.

But we do have a "system" that will deal with it. Markets and prices will adapt every day to the changes that are coming. And people that want to do something more than just die of despair will adapt to the changes, and they will wive and thrive.

On thing is for certain. If you are sitting around waiting for the politicians and the wise men to "do something," then you have a real problem.

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