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The Middle Class Hits a Dead End

November 1st, 2010 at 6:59 am | 28 Comments |

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On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama took the office of president with, it seemed, the wind of history at his back. Not even two years later, whispers and proclamations of a failed presidency abound. How did this happen? How have we come to the third “wave” election in a row?

Click here for part 1 and part 2 of this series.


One of the great undercurrents of contemporary politics is the growing sense of economic frustration or even despair among a broad swath of the American public.

Consider the perspective of many a worker. Your factory closes down and the work is shipped to another nation, where the company can pay subsistence wages. Suck it up; it’s the free market. You’re a tradesperson, whose wages have been radically cut by a massive influx of illegal immigrants. Suck it up; it’s the free market. You’re a customer service representative whose job is outsourced. Suck it up; it’s the free market. You’re a tech worker whose wages have stagnated due to a persistent application of H-1B visa policies. Suck it up; it’s the free market. (It is worth noting, of course, that many of these outcomes are not the result of the pure operations of the free market; many of them have occurred or at least been exacerbated due to selective government intervention in the market.)

But then, when a hedge fund or banking group risks faltering, the mantra from the same talking heads that ridiculed the economic difficulties of other workers suddenly changes. No longer can the free market have winners and (sometimes massive) losers. Now, it’s a CRISIS. Not giving bailed-out money managers multi-million dollars bonuses is now an affront to capitalism. Our future depends upon funneling billions and billions of dollars to the very same people who almost caused a nuclear meltdown in our economy.

The point here is not to dispute the value or even the necessity of the various bail-outs that took place in 2008: the point is that many Americans, who lack PhDs in economics and may not have a great interest in the details of high finance, notice a surprising difference in elite attitude when the financial fortunes of multi-millionaires and billionaires are at stake than when the middle class suffers. These workers might find it awfully convenient that the conventional highways of the middle class are being undermined by government action in the name of the “free market” or “competition” or “fairness” or whatever while the private jets of the financial elite are being built, fueled, and distributed by the government.

Adjusted for inflation, the median wages for both high school and college graduates have so far declined in the 2000s. The past forty years or so have not been relatively kind to the middle class: the annual income (adjusted for inflation) of the bottom 90% of Americans has only grown 10% since 1973. Meanwhile, the fortunes of the upper-upper-upper echelon have improved substantially.

And this high economic elite has seemed to show little sympathy for the economic losers of the past decade or so. Indeed, many of these elite have advocated or at least advanced the cause of lowering workers’ wages even more. One of the subthemes of elite defenses of illegal immigration is the belief that some jobs (such as farming, construction, childcare, food preparation, manufacturing, etc.) should not pay very much. The whole “jobs Americans won’t do” stance is predicated on the belief that such jobs should not pay middle-class wages.

The decimation of manufacturing has put further pressure on the middle and working classes. This decimation is not wholly due to automation; if it were, we would still be producing things like jeans and televisions and computer devices in the United States. Further embittering many Americans is the belief that many countries engage in a de facto trade war with the United States—or would engage in a trade war if the US had not already unilaterally disarmed with respect to its manufacturing trade policy.

Whatever some talking heads may say about the need to “reeducate” workers, the high-tech sector has never fully recovered from the early 2000s. Wages and hiring in many high-tech fields have stagnated. Often, the same people who lament the supposed dearth of high-tech domestic workers are themselves working day and night to decrease the incentive for US citizens to study high-tech fields by continually campaigning for more and more foreign-trained workers (and therefore lower wages in this sector).

Running into a seeming dead end in terms of jobs, the Bush administration backed into a novel strategy to create a nation of investors: turn the real estate market into a commodities trading floor. Using the infrastructure set up in the 1990s (including changes in tax laws, the powers of certain government-backed enterprises, and so forth), the federal government—including the Bush administration and many in Congress—began to inflate a real estate and investment bubble.

This bubble was predicated upon making it easier for people to get bigger mortgages. If the post-Y2K economy couldn’t increase the wages of the middle class, the government could at least increase the ability of the middle class (and upper class and poor) to get into debt. Bush and others assailed high down-payment requirements as a barrier to the economic advancement of the poor. Congressional Democrats attacked any attempt to rein in the excesses of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which contributed to the spending binge. Large financial organizations (with ties to both parties) pushed for the ability to leverage more and more debt and to create hocus-pocus investment instruments as a way of lining the pockets of an increasingly select few.

Unfortunately, an epidemic of speculation fueled by capacious borrowing is not a firm basis for a health economy. And so the crash came. Those who precipitated the crash were for the most part protected or promoted; the unconnected many were left with mountains of debt.

Barack Obama did indeed come into office facing tough economic circumstances. However, many Americans seem to be disappointed with his performance. Obama’s fixation on securing long-term “progressive” reforms (in areas such as healthcare) strikes many Americans not as just a distraction from the nation’s economic growth but outright harmful to it. For them, the first two years of the Obama administration have been more like the end of the Bush administration: more stagnation, more despair, more diminished expectations. The fact that Obama and Congressional Democrats chose to go it alone on the stimulus bill also meant that they had little bipartisan cover: the Democratic leadership had singular responsibility for the success or the failure of the stimulus. And, to many, our nation seems still stuck in the economy of debt rather than the economy of progress.

This economic despair is an important backdrop to the current backlash against “elites.” Many Americans are quite willing to accept growing economic inequality, but they will only do so if they feel like they are improving their own economic situations. The sense of economic stagnation only inflames conflicted anxieties about the elite.


Originally published at A Certain Enthusiasm.

Recent Posts by Fred Bauer



28 Comments so far ↓

  • CD-Host

    Often, the same people who lament the supposed dearth of high-tech domestic workers are themselves working day and night to decrease the incentive for US citizens to study high-tech fields by continually campaigning for more and more foreign-trained workers (and therefore lower wages in this sector).

    Exactly. In the 1990s the US economy was bursting with pulling people into high tech. With the exception of financie, law and medicine the US is simply unwilling to have decent wages. They moment they are created aggressive wage suppression occurs. Tech being a textbook example.

    The middle class is starting to realize they have much more to fear from their own domestic elites than from other groups. While this had only minor influence on 2010 we’ll see how this develops in 2012. For example does the Tea Party during this congress shock the business community by proving they aren’t just Republicans.

  • rbottoms

    The fact that Obama and Congressional Democrats chose to go it alone on the stimulus bill also meant that they had little bipartisan cover

    Chose to go it alone? Oh please.

    The choice was take a vote that would be used against us in the face of a second great depression or financial Armageddon. Fortunately the Democrats did what’s right. Obama’s only failing was not realizing if you’re going to get walloped anyway you may as well go for the whole enchilada on health care and the stimulus.

    The GOP was never going to vote for anything.

    Wasting a year kissing their asses was pointless.

  • NRA Liberal

    Strange to read this stuff on a Republican blog.

    Sometimes it seems as if the parties are on the edge of doing a complete flip-flop and reversing their positions. The Democrats are late-50s Republicans now. The Republicans are George Wallace Democrats.

  • Oldskool

    The fact that Obama and Congressional Democrats had no support on anything else from Republicans meant they had to go it alone on the stimulus bill …Fixed.

  • CD-Host

    Sometimes it seems as if the parties are on the edge of doing a complete flip-flop and reversing their positions. The Democrats are late-50s Republicans now. The Republicans are George Wallace Democrats.

    I agree that’s happening. And it would be good for the country. We need a moderate party and a economically liberal / socially conservative party. The Republicans need to move left on economics, and a lot of the disfunction in our political culture would disappear.

  • JohnnyA

    The middle class is hitting a dead end, but a different kind of dead end: the inevitable dead end that happens after listening to people that tell you nothing is ever your own fault. That somehow you are entitled to a life of luxury without ever having to work hard or save. That bad times should never happen and you should not prepare for them. If you run into any speed bumps, it’s because of illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, outsourcing overseas, muslim terrorists, a muslim president, liberals, RINOs, basically any folks from far away and/or that are different from us are suitable for blame. At no time should you ever consider that your problems are your own damn fault, that you are personally responsible for your own life. This is a fairy tale.

    Easy credit made it possible for people to have supersized lifestyles for much of the 90s and the 00s that were beyond their means. The easy credit begat a housing boom resulting in home equity and more easy credit. Many folks are now angry and frustrated that these times are over and the bill has arrived.

    Another group expects that low skill/education areas like construction, farming and manufacturing that provided for a middle class lifestyle in the 1950s should continue to do so in 2010. However, the 1950s middle class lifestyle was more about the basics than today’s. If you want to do 1950s work, then you get the 1950s middle class lifestyle. If you want to enjoy the 2010 supersized lifestyle with plasma TVs and playstations through the house, beach house, expensive overseas vacations you’ll need a supersized education and job to go with that. I can think of one place where bankers and farmers and taxi drivers and doctors make the same pay: communist Cuba. I’ll assume you are not proposing communism.

  • sinz54

    CD-Host: With the exception of financie, law and medicine the US is simply unwilling to have decent wages. They moment they are created aggressive wage suppression occurs.
    The “wage suppression” comes from the fact that India and China pay workers much less to do at least as good a job as workers in the U.S. If companies paid American workers more (especially if they gave them generous pensions and health care), then American-made products would be more expensive, and consumers worldwide would buy cheaper products made elsewhere.

    I’ve said this before: The U.S. is no longer in a world in which it has a monopoly on high-tech industry. In fact, it now has very strong competition from the Pacific Rim, India, and China.

    Worldwide wages in each globalized industry must reach equilibrium level. That means that eventually, workers in India and China will get richer–while American workers get a little poorer.

    There is no way around that. In the late 19th and early 20th century, American workers were doing the same thing to British and German workers.

    But the entire world will get more prosperous over time. So it’s not like American workers will be bid down to the level of Indian workers today. Because in 20 years, Indian workers will be earning a lot more too.

  • CD-Host

    The “wage suppression” comes from the fact that India and China pay workers much less to do at least as good a job as workers in the U.S. If companies paid American workers more (especially if they gave them generous pensions and health care), then American-made products would be more expensive, and consumers worldwide would buy cheaper products made elsewhere.

    The purpose of the American economy is to provide for the welfare of the American people. We are in interested in other countries buying American products in so far as such purchases make life better for Americans. We are interested in buying other countries products in so far as such purchases make life better for Americans.

    If trade is producing additional wealth (which I believe it is) then that wealth is going somewhere. If it is producing wage stagnation as well then that additional wealth should be taxed to provide benefits to the people experiencing stagnant wages. If it isn’t producing enough wealth to compensate for the stagnation, then simply don’t engage in unregulated trade.

    I don’t see any reason American workers should accept having wages at Indian levels as so that companies that offer no benefits to them can make greater profits.

  • Higherednerd

    @JohnnyA – studies have shown that the middle class has largely just tried to stay middle class, not reach for anything spectactular. The accusation of greed constantly made against the middle class is hypocritical, considering the free pass given to the banksters.

    And, to sinz54: no, they aren’t doing “at least as good a job” as the Americans they replaced. Just look up the World Bank fiasco by Satyam and Wipro on Fox news. I’m not talking about the financial shenanigans, but the poor performance. If you work in the industry, you know that giving sensitive, complex work to the third world is a pointy-haired boss strategy.

    No, our wages don’t have to drop to their level. We just need to end the hypocrisy whereby we have to open everything up and bare our throats, while the rest of the world takes whatever they please. These other countries are protectionist as all hell, and would never treat their citizens the way we’ve treated ours. America needs to stop giving away the store to the third world.

    Also, the real reason for using all these foreign workers was let out of the bag by Alan Greenspan and printed in the Boston Globe (and elsewhere): it was specifically to lower the wages of skilled American workers by flooding our white collar labor market. It was anything but a natural event.

  • CD-Host

    However, the 1950s middle class lifestyle was more about the basics than today’s. If you want to do 1950s work, then you get the 1950s middle class lifestyle.

    American workers are vastly more productive today than they were in the 1950s. 1950s wages productivity adjusted would be a massive improvement.

  • pnwguy

    Sinz:

    I agree about equilibrium. However, not all nations have equal values on the rights of their citizens. The question is how to allow for differences in a global set of trade rules. If other nations are allowed to enslave their citizens, impose child labor, dump toxins that harm people far beyond their borders, or other practices that we might find abhorrent, how does one work that into the equilibrium?

    When we trade with others that share our values, we have an equal footing to compete. When we trade with those who would create great social harm in the process, how do we account for that in our trade rules?

  • Stan

    Increased educational levels in India, China, and countries sharing China’s cultural traditions are inevitably going to even out income levels. It’s like putting a hot piece of metal in cold water. The temperatures equalize, and so do income levels in a globalized environment. The benefits of globalization have largely gone to the upper stratum in American society, and their gains have been enhanced by Republican tax cuts. I’ve benefited from this, and I can only marvel at the willingness of useful idiots like Joe the Plumber to transfer money up the wealth gradient. Several years ago Barney Frank proposed a bargain in which corporations would continue to enjoy the advantages of low tarrifs in return for dropping their opposition to social welfare measures like the Affordable Care Act. The corporations sneered, of course, and are busy contributing to their servants in Congress. This will continue unless somehow the lower orders understand what’s happening. I don’t see this happening soon.

    As far as this post goes, laments in the FrumForum about the economic problems of the middle class come close to the classical definition of chutzpah.

  • NRA Liberal

    “Another group expects that low skill/education areas like construction, farming and manufacturing that provided for a middle class lifestyle in the 1950s should continue to do so in 2010. ”

    What I do is not “low skill”, Jack. You try making an inspection-passing weld in a tight corner or shaking out a couple hundred tons of steel on a derrick floor without creating a complete clusterf**k.

  • CD-Host

    NRA Liberal –

    I was at Monticello yesterday. I live in an 1830 house and was admiring the fantastic woodwork. Jefferson’s plantation had a terrific joiner (high end carpenter) apprenticeship program and wow does it show. Most bond traders today don’t know anything about the underlying security, they are good at best at conning other ignorant but arrogant fools into overpaying for loans. I don’ know how anyone can make an honest comparison and conclude that.

    Our wage system has become unhinged from any sort of value add. Couldn’t agree with your comment above more.

  • JohnnyA

    @Higherednerd – I’d love to see those studies. From my own observations, the frugal middle class as we knew it in the 70s and 80s went out the window in the 90s with easy credit and undisciplined people choosing to live beyond their means. I can show you neighborhoods through much of Northern Virginia and the DC area that are full of people that bought houses and cars they can’t afford and are in debt up to their teeth.

    Agreed regarding the greed of the bankers, but it is a two way street. To have a drug problem, you need both the drug dealer and the addict, who in this case is a middle class unable to live within their own means, addicted to a supersized lifestyle that only ‘works’ when property values are going up 10-20% a year. It also helps to have cops that look the other way – in this case both the W Bush and Clinton administrations.

  • JohnnyA

    NRA Liberal and CD-Host

    First, agreed not all jobs in those area are low skill and it was not my intention to disrespect anyone who does those jobs. In college I worked residential construction and manufacturing jobs to pay my way through. The skill level required for the work I did is orders of magnitude simpler than the elite high skilled work NRA does but there are also many more of those kind of basic jobs out there than the high skilled stuff.

    The trend with productivity improvements tends to make the high skilled construction and manufacturing jobs like NRA’s a continually smaller percentage of the number of jobs in that area. Much of my construction work involved a team moving quickly with nail guns putting prefab homes together. A generation ago, it was all done by hand (and better). Today, electronic parts assembly largely involves feeding components into machines that perform the work. Decades ago, it required highly skilled workers.

    The mix of that type of work will increasingly require less trade skills and as that type of work simplifies, there will be fewer high skilled workers that will make more and a larger percentage of low skilled workers that will make less and less.

    Sinz already said it better, but my point is if you can go in the direction the economy is evolving (information economy, office jobs) and reap those rewards why fight an uphill battle in an area of the job market where high paid jobs are shrinking.

  • CD-Host

    JohnnyA –

    The information economy produced good quality jobs until wage suppression kicked in. We should have 10 million good paying computer jobs in the USA instead the numbers keep shrinking. You know we got make sure banks and insurance companies can outsource their IT to the lowest bidder.

  • pnwguy

    JohnnyA:

    During the past decade, earnings for the middle class were flat or slipping backwards, depending on the industry. But the market cues they saw were that people could best gain wealth by flipping houses. If you bought smaller, you were subject to capital gains. And interest income was 100% tax deductible. So the more ambitious of the middle class were following the path (so they thought) that built wealth. It’s hard to fault that approach in general. Most often, conservatives would be chastising society for squandering such opportunities.

    A similar set of market cues were moving the best and brightest in universities away from engineering and into finance, where the obscene profits were. As long as we were willing to let much of our industrial base flee overseas, the ambitious were moving into careers that had the most profit potential, albeit making “goods” that were later seen to be a mirage. What conservative economist would fault those students for moving the in direction that the labor market was enticing them? Isn’t that what the “invisible hand” is all about?

  • balconesfault

    A similar set of market cues were moving the best and brightest in universities away from engineering and into finance, where the obscene profits were. As long as we were willing to let much of our industrial base flee overseas, the ambitious were moving into careers that had the most profit potential, albeit making “goods” that were later seen to be a mirage. What conservative economist would fault those students for moving the in direction that the labor market was enticing them? Isn’t that what the “invisible hand” is all about?

    It is not possible to blame the students – it is possible to blame the stewards of our economy who chose to let the invisible hand tilt the playing field in ways that encouraged talent to move into law and finance instead of industries which would improve our global competitiveness.

    Sadly, the invisible hand could care less whether America can provide a good living for the middle class.

  • CD-Host

    Sadly, the invisible hand could care less whether America can provide a good living for the middle class.

    Actually it cares a great deal. Wages didn’t go down accidentally they were suppressed. The Fed reacts strongly to any sort of “wage inflation” while being disinterested in asset inflation. An H1B program was introduced most places wages were improving. Trade policies were created to make sure the benefits flowed to investors. Corporations had tax policies that encouraged creating unemployment. Agreements were signed to high skill jobs away, like our agricultural policies.

    This was not an accident.

  • easton

    Interesting thread everyone.

    A few observations, one, American workers are much more productive than Chinese or Indian workers. I invite anyone to go to a Chinese factory sometime (my family owns one, that is my Chinese wife’s family does). I have seen the wholesale waste at places like Shanghai GM that is unthinkable in America, and this is in Shanghai, the most advanced and educated city in China.

    As to wage equilibrium, that is not close to being true until we get productivity equilibrium (among a host of things, such as resource equilibrium, which doesn’t exist, etc.)

    Lets just stop with the lamenting of the death of America. America is still a fantastically wealthy country. Even the poorest Americans live in more square footage than a middle class Chinese family. The problem in America is that the poor communities are a disaster on a social scale, drugs, violence, crime, lack of basic education.

    And lets stop knocking the H1B, it benefits America. I have friends who graduated at the top of their class in Jiaotong University working at some of America’s best labs, Universities, businesses, etc. We would be idiotic not to want them. Likewise, I have benefited greatly by the reverse, I lived in China, now Mexico, and have had a productive and happy 15 years abroad. America would not have benefited if I stayed home and one of the H1B Chinese stayed in China.

  • JonF

    Re: There is no way around that. In the late 19th and early 20th century, American workers were doing the same thing to British and German workers.

    No they weren’t.
    Wages and benefits (such as they were) were pretty much the same among the US, the UK and Germany.

    CD-Host: it’s rare for a company to oursource any but the least skilled IT jobs (unless it can actually afford to set up an entire facility of its own outside the country, complete with American managers). A few years ago piecemeal outsourcing was all the rage– and generally resulted in utter fiasco as time zone, language and cultural differences hamstrung operations. I saw this firsthand, and also saw my then-employer promptly pull the work back from India after three weeks of accomplishing nothing except massive frustration.
    Rather than sending skilled jobs out of the country, the trend has rather been to import workers from abroad to drive down wages, as others have mentioned.

  • CD-Host

    I’ve worked in IT now for 15 years a good deal of it in management.

    CD-Host: it’s rare for a company to oursource any but the least skilled IT jobs (unless it can actually afford to set up an entire facility of its own outside the country, complete with American managers).

    I disagree. Its very common to have servers offsite at a hosting facility. Its very common for the system administrators for those hosting facilities to be abroad, at least partially. Operations is more remote now, when possible. Call centers are remote.

    A few years ago piecemeal outsourcing was all the rage– and generally resulted in utter fiasco as time zone, language and cultural differences hamstrung operations. I saw this firsthand, and also saw my then-employer promptly pull the work back from India after three weeks of accomplishing nothing except massive frustration.

    Not all employers gave up that quickly.

    Rather than sending skilled jobs out of the country, the trend has rather been to import workers from abroad to drive down wages, as others have mentioned.

    H1B is another problem, no question but outsourcing has been the bigger problem.

  • JonF

    Re: I disagree. Its very common to have servers offsite at a hosting facility. Its very common for the system administrators for those hosting facilities to be abroad, at least partially.

    Yes, and I am talking about the LEAST SKILLED IT jobs: computer operations and the like. Jobs that require higher skills (e.g., software design and development) are kept at home because there’s serious issues with coordinating work among teams that time zone, linguistic and cultural differnces easily foul up. To be sure a major corporation like Microsoft can, in principle, site an entire facility abroad to get around those problems, and staff it with American management to keep things on course. But your average business can’t do that. I saw first-person the disaster that can happen if you try to outsource random programming work: three weeks of nothing getting done. That’s why this sort of suff stays in America generally, and firms press for more H1B workers (generally claiming they can’t find skilled workers here) in order to keep wages low.

    Re: H1B is another problem

    For most tech work it is the biggest problem in regards to middle class jobs.

    Also, in regards to call centers, this is anecdotal, but I have been noticing a trend back toward American call centers for customer service, at least with regard to the companies I call. I suspect the number of complaints and the amount of lost business may have motivated some businesses to rethink the outsourcing of customer service.

  • midcon

    Current law limits H1B visa to 65,000 per year. For 2010 we had not reached the quota of applications, probably due to the economy. I used to think H1B visas were a problem until I found out how few there were. Of course 65,000 each year can add up to a sizeable number. Still it is more likely that out sourcing has a much greater impact.

    More importantly for the nation are the national security implications of the loss of our ability to be self sufficient. We are already at that point with nuclear power and could not build nuclear power plant without the aid of French or Japanese nuclear power industry. Fortunately, we continue to be self sufficient in the production of food, but what if we had to import steel because we lost the ability to do it ourselves?

    What many fail to recognize is that our future has rapidly become dependent upon our relationships with other countries, a greater risk to our independence than even Glen Beck can imagine.

    We need skilled jobs of all types in this country because it directly affects our freedom. I know this may be lost on many folks, but if we can’t build, grow, or manufacture what we need, you have to buy it from someone who can. And if the price is too high because it compromises our principles and liberties what then?

  • JohnnyA

    CD-Host, pnwguy,

    Regarding the wages arguments, Sinz still says it best. Also, you’re both citing a lot of ‘facts’ without references that don’t bear out in my own observations.

    I agree with Stan – this is all a bunch of chutzpah. Undisciplined people got their hands on easy credit and financed their ways into supersized lifestyles beyond their means. The increased spending funded an economic boom that was pure BS. This was painfully obvious in the 90s as well as the 00s – anybody who didn’t see this doesn’t understand basic economics or was a credit junkie who didn’t want the high to end. The party ended, there was a bill to pay and hangovers galore. Politicians and talking heads see an opportunity in the crisis and blame it on people far away and those who are different and promise more bread and circuses if you vote for their cronies in the next election. This is one of the oldest political tricks in the book and it’s amazing how many people still fall for it.

    Agreed that flipping homes could be a great way to make money in a bubble market – I personally profited handsomely from the real estate market and continue to do so. But anybody who thought flipping ever more expensive homes that they lived in was a good idea is a financial and economic idiot and hopefully they learned from the lesson. The home you live in is not an investment. While it appreciates in value, so does everything else around it. And if you’re in the middle of a bubble all that equity can go *poof* at any moment. I sold one of my rental properties that was a kind of property I no longer wanted to own and with the gains bought 2 cheaper rental units that together totaled more – no capital gains tax if all three transactions complete within 60 days. I refinanced my own home and took out equity to buy 2 more rental units. I’m slightly underwater at the new rentals because of the bubble burst, but I easily make mortgage with the rent and 10-15 years from now I’ll have a million dollar equity gain. Perversely my savings are made possible by renters who refuse to live within their own means and save money and invest. (Nearly all of my renters have nicer and newer cars than my own) So I’m an incorrigible, out of touch ‘elite’ because I chose to invest my housing bubble equity gains rather than squander them on new cars and bling and join these people in the misery of not being able to make the monthly payments?

  • JohnnyA

    “It is not possible to blame the students” – Balconesfault

    Like I said in my first post, it’s this “we can’t hold people accountable for their own decisions, actions and mistakes” mentality that got us here.

    The posts on this item serve to further my point. As a country, I believe we face a much more serious risk: the death of our work ethic and sense of personal responsibility, replaced by a huge entitlement mentality. Too much blame shifting, trying to put the blame on ‘invisible hands’, corporations, workers from overseas.

    What is missing: acknowledgement that we need to work harder and smarter, be more competitive. Focus on the future, not on jobs that are going away as a natural result of the evolution of the country and our economy. A stronger focus on understanding and how to work productively with the rest of the world, in particular Canada and Latin America. The Latin American economy as a whole will grow roughly 2-3x that of the US economy over the next 20 years and we’re largely sitting out on opportunities to expand our exports and economy.