In a recent NYT column titled 'A Speech About Nothing' David Brooks suddenly fell out of love with Barack Obama. There is a link to his column and an excerpt from it below the line on this page. Here is my analysis....
On the economy-
I think his view leaves out the ramifications of the Free Trade agreements signed by Clinton, but passed by a Republican congress. We always knew that it would have been good for Corporate America and investors if the US allowed all of our manufacturing to be done in countries which have none of our labor laws or human rights or environmental standards. We didn't allow that though, for a whole raft of reasons.
1. National Security. As Huckabee said, our manufacturing base saved the world in WWII when we turned it into a war machine.
2. Jobs and living standards. Brooks would say 'Look at the cheap goods', but the way I see it is that most people who lose their manufacturing job see their wages go from about 50k to about 17k per year and the amount that they save per year on cheap goods might only be 2 or 3 thousand dollars. You can only buy so many dvd players and cameras.
Home prices and food prices just keep going up, even before the oil boom. Most of the jobs we have lost were not lost to 'technological efficiency', most of these jobs still exist, in China and elsewhere.
In the excerpted quote below from his column he points out that... "For the first time in the nation’s history, workers retiring from the labor force are better educated than the ones coming in."
I think that has a lot to do with the declining wages and college having gotten more and more expensive with ever more slots being taken up by rich foreigners from countries who are much more protective of their own working class than we are. Even the American kids that work in my office are graduating with astronomical loan debts and when they look at the job market they ask, did I make the right decision to come to college? Of course college grad's make more, but what if you're a college grad stuck in a dead end job owing 75k plus interest? And now they've changed the rules so that they will garnish your paycheck much more quickly than before to get the loan repayed.
I think Brooks is down on Obama now because of all that I just said that David doesn't agree with and Barack does. As for why Brooks liked Obama a few months ago? I don't know, either wishful thinking on his part or pre-emptive spin, to set himself up as a 'valid critic' now.
"A pedagogical revolution has led to ferocious competition to get into the top universities but a decline in quality at the primary and secondary levels. For the first time in the nation’s history, workers retiring from the labor force are better educated than the ones coming in.
All of these huge social forces have had profound effects on how Americans work and live. All of them have combined to create a mass upper class, but also a struggling working class. They have all contributed to rising living standards — and also to the feelings of anxiety that show up in poll after poll."