Thursday, September 11, 2008

Elephant Blues?

"The recent data are the latest reminder of how college degrees, long seen as a path to the middle class, no longer guarantees fatter paychecks.."

Conor Dougherty, "High-Degree Professionals Show Power: Survey Highlights Worry of Winners, Losers in Economy," Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2008.

Only professionals like doctors and lawyers seem immune to our labor market woes, which persist and deepen even during economic recoveries. College still makes a difference, but Ph.D's, Master's, and BA's lost ground between 2000-2007. Some of this is due to the absorbtion of the doubling of health care costs during this same time period. Add the foreclosure crisis and it makes sense that doctors and lawyers gained ground.

"It's this pervasive economic unease that is capsizing the Republican Party.. Republican economic management since 2001 has not yielded many beneftis for middle-income America."

David Frum, "The Vanishing Republican Voter: Why Income Inequality is Destroying the G.O.P. Base," New York Times Magazine, September 7, 2008.

Frum begins his piece by acknowledging the "have nots" who live east of the river in DC, but quickly turns his attention to the way economic insecurity is eating away at Republican strongholds like Prince William County,Viginia, where there is less income inequality, just people who have done pretty well until they have had to trade in their SUVs, scale down megamansion dreams, and settle for static income at best.

Given all this, wouldn't it behoove McCain and Palin to talk policy solutions rather than negative ads and firing up the old cultural wars? Maybe they just don't have any ideas. Unfortunately, there is no predictable path from middle-class angst to an economic populism that embraces fairness and the bottom rung.

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