Boomer Hillary Campaigns on the Myth of the American Dream - Good Politics, Questionable Policy

Hillary's Campaign Speech

This post is combination of my comments on Jon Wolfman's post 1-Sentence Sunday: Why I Want the Trade Deal to Burst, so if you're inclined to complain don't blame me, go give Jon a piece of your mind.

His take is that Congress should deny Obama "fast track" negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Treaty that has been negotiated in secret because it is a potential threat to American jobs, wages and unions.  While I don't necessarily disagree with that take, Jon also presses the notion that the agenda of the 2016 Presidential campaign might be about a "...potentially reinvigorated, re-focused, punched-up, meaningful American Union Movement."

After reading about Hillary Clinton's latest campaign speech on Roosevelt Island, I'm afraid that both sides of the 2016 debate are about to take us all to the cleaners.  Republicans will be invoking Teddy Roosevelt's mythology of "Big Stick" American Exceptionalism ( while conveniently forgetting his Progressive anti-trust and environmentalist agenda) while Democrats will hold up FDR and the New Deal as a path to restoring our faith in The American Dream, and here's my problem with all of that:

While the TPP could evolve into definite threat to jobs and wages in the USA, the New Deal was never intended to be a tool for social and economic engineering, but an interim salve for the wounds of failed speculative capitalism to prevent the infection of socialism.  Unions began as a workers' struggle for a living wage and a safer work place, but between 1948 and 1980 they devolved into corrupt entities more concerned with preserving seniority, restrictive shop rules, job security and fat retirement packages.  When faced with coherent opposition in an economy plagued with back to back to back recessions even the best of organized labor (UAW and such) sold out new younger members into a system of tiered wages and benefits.

Here is the problem as I see it.  Our contemporary American Dream of a prosperous middle class was the result of an historical accident.  In 1939 before Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland the US economy represented 33% of a depressed global GDP. From1946-1960 with the economic infrastructure of Europe and Asia still recovering from WWII, US prosperity roared along and at its peak produced 67% of the Global GDP.  After the 1970's OPEC oil embargoes, the collapse of the "Internet Bubble" in 2000, followed by the 9-11attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon in 2001, the US share of the world's GDP was back to 33%.

So, we either have to figure out some way to live with higher prices to pay for higher wages, or we'll have to adjust our expectations of "universal 'Boomer' middle class entitlement and 'Millennial' instant gratification" back to the lean times of post Great Depression 1939. 

Until we make it economically feasible to return decent paying manufacturing and IT jobs to the USA in a hyper competitive world economy, we'll continue to live in an economy of "jobless" recovery, where average people will have to hold down two or three low paying "service" jobs just to get by.  BTW: Southern California Edison and the Disney Corporation may soon be under investigation by the Congress and Dept of Labor for knowingly using a third parties to violate federal law through the H-1B visa program, so your job isn't safe even in a stateside union shop.

The real test of our economy and society is coming down over the next fifty years as the "Boomers" go extinct and the population born between 1960 and 1985 retires. 

US Birth Rate

Unless we open the doors to significant legal immigration, there aren't enough native born American 'Millennials' to pay SSI taxes and there won't be enough left in the Social Security and Medicare trust funds to pay for their retirement and medical care.  As the old Chinese curse goes, our children and grandchildren will live in interesting times.

We need to wake up and smell the coffee, but as usual our politicians and business people are feeding us promises about what they think we want to hear.  In the meantime, thanks to Jon W:

Except for attributed photos and text, all content is copyrighted © 2015 JKM (an apparently ineffectual boilerplate joke?)

Views: 137

Comment by koshersalaami on June 14, 2015 at 11:19am
Of course we need higher prices to pay for wages, but it will be worth it because those employed people will buy stuff, creating more jobs, more taxpayers, and more prosperity. Going for low Walmart prices is one of the main ways we got in trouble, because the trade off created the Working Poor.

Unions aren't perfect like corporations aren't perfect. Everyone is corruptible by category, but that does not mean they shouldn't exist.
Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on June 14, 2015 at 11:40am

Any day I can induce bright Weat Coasters to move East via BrainPain is a good day.

Comment by Jerry DeNuccio on June 14, 2015 at 12:12pm

Thanks for this, JMac.  You offer historical perspectives and raise issues that are too often underreported and underanalyzed--probably because news these days is entertainment and such perspectives and issues aren’t as sexy as, don’t have the built-in applause reflex, of glittering generalities like “the American Dream.” 

Comment by Arthur James on June 14, 2015 at 4:23pm

`

I have

tech

woes.

`

SO?

SPEAK!

OKAY.

`

knock 

knock

who a

knock?

`

a nut, a

PECAN

WHO?

Pecan 

somebody

who lame as?

koshersaalami?

` Be nice ' and?

no be fiddling 

with blog key

buttons? okay?

`

that not nice

`

`,

Comment by nerd cred on June 15, 2015 at 11:16am

Higher prices would be an overall societal good.

The wage class structure should also be limited. Example - a relative works for Target in marketing. She has a bachelor's degree. In her very early 30's she was paid more than, for example, my ex who has a PhD, extensive experience in a high-demand field and retired at the top (non-appointed) tier of government service. There's not even any point comparing her wage with people working at thestore level who some might say do the real work of Target.

Someone else who is an exec in sports broadcasting, makes in the high 6 figures annually. The people down on the field, in the broadcasting trucks are all freelance, probably well enough paid but no benefits and constantly scrambling for work.

We hear and talk about insane levels of CEO compensation but there are multiple tiers below CEO that are also excessively paid relative to those doing the real work.

As long as FICA contributions are capped on wages barely into 6 figures, talk of looming SS & medicare insolvency is specious, especially given the compensation trends I described. (There are still lots and lots of well-paid people - enough votes to maintain the status quo.)

Growth of the H-1B visa program contributes to insulating employers from any need to contribute to training of their own workforce which amounts to additional transfer of those costs to the individual - another factor in the student debt crisis that's never mentioned.

It's nothing a good dictator couldn't solve. I'd be happy to volunteer for the position.

Comment by old new lefty on June 15, 2015 at 2:43pm

Don't forget to stock up on your anti-nausea medication before the campaign season revs up full tilt!

Comment by JMac1949 Today on June 15, 2015 at 3:52pm

LOL...Nerd Cred for Galactic Imperial Overseer in 2016... I'll vote for that!

Comment by nerd cred on June 15, 2015 at 4:52pm

Thank you, jmac. I'll need a part time job next year to supplement my SS, I think.

Comment by Arthur James on June 15, 2015 at 5:18pm

`

Maybe politicos

can be sent to

Moon and act

like naked ape.

Bush and Gang

Sure Entertain.

We need soft

pink TP rolls

and tear? no,

and tear off

bronco size

SQUARE &

Weep until

Apocalypse?

`

gross

`

Send to

VAMC 

Nut 

House?

`

Comment by JMac1949 Today on June 15, 2015 at 5:52pm

Good suggestion Art, maybe we send all the presidential candidates to the VAMC Nut House until October 2016 so their campaign rhetoric has a chance to evolve.  R&L ;-D

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