For about 30-years there was a foundry here in Duncan. Made castings of items such as manhole covers. Used natural gas as fuel. I heard a man  who worked there say he was proud of his job.  

Proud of his job. That foundry has been shut for quite a while now. As has the mobile home factory. And the stock trailer factory. All three located in that same industrial park. And that man is likely dead by now.  But America was great then because he was proud of his job.

In the last week of November a book was published: By Oren Cass, The Once and Future Worker, Reviewed in all the places: WSJ, NYT, WP, Atlantic Monthly, etc. Oren Cass was interviewed just as broadly.

The problem:

“—the 19 percent of prime-age males lacking full-time work in 2018 would have marked the worst year on record prior to the Great Recession. Life expectancy is falling nationwide, driven by rising substance abuse and suicide among those without a college degree.

The cause:

“…it is the result of America’s choice to define prosperity solely in terms of consumption and shape economic policy accordingly.”

The aspirational goal:

“…engaging in productive work is critical to self-esteem, mental health, and life satisfaction.” “…attaining competence or even excellence in a vocation are tied… closely to life satisfaction, “

Mr. Trump is canny enough to mouth that aspirational goal and capsulate it as MAGA. 

[notice pun]

The fly in the ointment is Mr. Trump has no good ideas on how to make that happen. Stop immigration and stop imports is his list. And his Republican supporters like the extant economic trends, so they are not growing to change a thing, e.g., tax cuts with no compensating reduction in loopholes.

To more fully reward work, and to make low-wage workers more appealing to employers, Mr. Cass recommends a federal wage subsidy that would boost hourly wages in the direction of a target wage—set at about $15 per hour today. Workers would receive half the difference between their market wage and the target wage, with the federal government depositing the subsidy directly into their paychecks.

About what we should expect from a right wing think tank fellow. 

Not that I know what to do, but Cass has forgotten his thesis statement. Meanwhile we should respect every soul who trys to earn a living by working. Make them proud of their job.

The point here is because policy makers and voters are scoring the wrong measure (GDP), we are going be unhappy with the outcome.

Jim Holland

Make workers proud

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