Friday, September 01, 2006

It's Class...Stupid

I don't know how i've missed Thomas Frank's guest columns in the New York Times. But the one published on Tuesday (sorry, select) is just brilliant. Basically, liberalism is dying because we don't go back to our roots and admit that class matters.

"in “The Disposable American,” a disturbing history of job security, Louis Uchitelle points out that the New Democrats’ emphasis on retraining (as opposed to broader solutions that Old Democrats used to favor) is merely a kinder version of the 19th-century view of unemployment, in which economic dislocation always boils down to the fitness of the unemployed person himself.

Or take the “inevitability” of recent economic changes, a word that the centrist liberals of the Washington school like to pair with “globalization.” We are told to regard the “free-trade” deals that have hammered the working class almost as acts of nature. As the economist Dean Baker points out, however, we could just as easily have crafted “free-trade” agreements that protected manufacturing while exposing professions like law, journalism and even medicine to ruinous foreign competition, losing nothing in quality but saving consumers far more than Nafta did."

In fairness, journalists *are* exposed to lots of foreign competition via the Internet, not free trade agreements. And paralegals and some radiologists are getting outsourced too now. But I think the critique of the hypocrisy of professional protectionism is right on. Nowhere more obviously than in the academic world. The BA is the required credential for most decent jobs and a pretty expensive one, too--but what does it really teach you? or prepare you for? More and more, I'm realizing that Frank is right, education is not the only answer for what ails us.


redante said...

Hi Anya

Here's a link to another excellent essay by Thomas Frank on class

Anonymous said...

A view of what type of politics is needed if the interests of poor, working and middle-class people were to become a priority in the American national agenda. Link here for more

Anonymous said...

sorry about the last post -- here's a better link to the particular posting rather than the site itself
Finding Common Cause