Sunday, May 01, 2016

Ignoring The iPad

... and the Internet and the junior college system and paved roads and universal access to electricity and indoor plumbing and ...

Beverly Cage (whoever she is), no doubt reliably progressive, writing in the reliably progressive New York Times reviewed a book of essays by the reliably progressive Thomas Frank (whoever he is). The book castigates fellow progressives. I'm sure it's fascinating, but what caught me was this paragraph.
In his new book, the social critic Thomas Frank ­poses another possibility: that liberals in general — and the Democratic Party in particular — should look inward to understand the sorry state of American politics. Too busy attending TED talks and ­vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Frank argues, the Democratic elite has abandoned the party’s traditional commitments to the working class. In the process, they have helped to create the political despair and anger at the heart of today’s right-wing insurgencies.
Traditional commitments means government programs on the order of the New Deal, the Great Society or the Great Deal or the New Society or the Great, New Society Deal. Whatever. It's all about recreating the magic of the 1930s or the 1960s because, you know, that all worked out so well.

In any case, it's not 1935 any more, is it? Nor is it 1965. If you saw the "working class" as people rather than digits, you'd know that. Paved roads, electricity and indoor plumbing? Not all that common in 1935. Lots of time was spent obtaining the basic necessities of life, even for families who weren't on the edge of poverty.

Access to endless piles of information and instruction from your sofa? Not in 1965. You had to go to the library if you were in the "working class" and wanted to get a book. No instructional videos teaching you how to repair a car / refinish furniture / build an irrigation system were to be found, even in the most advanced 1965 library.

The government programs, even if they worked then, aren't going to work now because the problem isn't access to training. The problem isn't the time to pursue that, either. Instead, the problems are twofold.
  1. A lack of character. Let's face it, two generations ago, people worked a lot harder. They would have given their eyeteeth to have access to the self-improvement tools we have in abundance today.
  2. Economic ignorance. Take all the training you want, if you can't produce more value than the cost of your labor, you're not getting a job. The "Fight for 15" is an act of devotion to the utterly discredited religion of socialism,
I'm sure the essays mean well, but as long as they and the progressives remain trapped in the past like insects in amber, they will be utterly irrelevant to the year 2016.

Here, we see Thomas Frank (whoever he is) discussing his book with Beverly Cage (whoever she is).

No comments: