The Dumbest Thing I Heard This Week

Dunce_cap_from_LOC_3c04163uWhenever a conservative publication asks a question that seems rhetorical, I assume it’s something they’re going to vigorously deny. Such is the case with the Forbes article, “Is America’s Future Progressive?

I can’t say everything in this article is dumb. Lots of its conclusions make some sense. But there’s some wild claims made here on the order of Karl Rove’s “Math You Do As A Republican Do To Make Yourself Feel Better.” Fundamentally the article boils down to a sad missive trying to create a wedge by convincing Latinos and young Democrats, people that the author considers “beguiled,” that they will grow to hate the rich, elite Democratic leaders if they just understood how bad they were. Not how good the alternative is, mind you. Just how bad rich Democrats are.

Of [sic] the now triumphant urban gentry have their townhouses and high-rise lofts, but the service workers who do their dirty work have to log their way by bus or car from the vast American banlieues, either in peripheral parts of the city (think of Brooklyn’s impoverished fringes) or the poorer close-in suburbs. This progressive economy works from the well-placed academics, the trustfunders and hedge funders, but produces little opportunity for a better life for the vast majority of the middle and working class.

In case you were wondering, “liberals are welfare queens and food stampers” is giving way to “limousine liberals” as the preferred broad and unfair generalization to make the Right feel superior. The article has a uniqueness problem: rich people live in rich neighborhoods and poor people work service jobs while living in poorer neighborhoods everywhere in the country. How is the economy of New York City more stultifying than the economy of Alabama? Because the article is implying that the “conservative economy” would vary from the New York model.

Perhaps the height of wealth in metropolitan areas involves more direct service work, but there’s a frightening number of Wal-Mart and McDonald’s workers in conservative states serving the comparatively well-off. Why is there less upward mobility in cities? At best he could cite the educational funding deficit afflicting big cities, but that would require admitting that the cities are being robbed blind by the suburbs as cited above.

The gentry progressives don’t see much hope for the recovery of blue collar manufacturing or construction jobs

Really? Did anyone else hear anything about an auto bailout? Or tax credits for bringing jobs back onshore? Or infrastructure funding?

and they are adamant in making sure that the potential gusher of energy jobs in the resurgent fossil fuel never materializes

Black gold...Texas Tea...

Black gold…Texas Tea…

You don’t say? There’s more domestic oil production under Obama, and while that’s not really Obama’s doing, it is certainly a sign that nothing is being done to block energy jobs. This was an annoying back-and-forth during the election: Romney saying that “new permits are down” and Obama saying, “production is up and energy companies sit on thousands of unexploited permits” and fact checkers calling both sides half right when in reality, if you evaluate the impact as “jobs” or “production,” Obama has the better of the argument unless Romney could prove a claim that additional permits improve the energy sector even when thousands are unused now.

The best they can offer the hoi polloi is the prospect of becoming haircutters and dog walkers in cognitively favored places like Silicon Valley. Presumably, given the cost of living there, they will have to get there from the Central Valley or sleep on the streets.

The author apparently hopes that no one will click the links in his article. If they did, they would recognize that the article actually advocates for investments in education to train workers to perform high tech jobs and only cites service work for the non-controversial point that every new tech job will boost the economy with a multiplier because of increased demand for service jobs — and that those jobs are better paid in tech industry dominated areas. Again, consider the uniqueness of his argument: is he suggesting that his preferred economic model would not include service jobs? Not sure how that would even work…

Not surprisingly, this prospect is not exciting many Americans. So instead of heading for the blue paradises, but to lower-cost, those who move now tend towards low-cost, lower-density regions like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte and Raleigh.

A major leap of logic right here. Growth in the cities cited by the article have more to do with industries moving into those areas and employing people — think Inotech from Office Space. The article implies that people are making the move because of some sort of dissatisfaction with their traditional cities, which is a privileged view of American life where people just arbitrarily chose where to live rather than follow the jobs. Now, the article could argue that the low-tax, right-to-freeload…er…”work” are responsible for businesses locating in those “low-cost, lower-density regions,” which would be an argument we could have.

The Obama-Bernanke-Geithner economy has done little to reverse the relative decline of the middle and working class, whose their share of national income have fallen to record lows. If you don’t work for venture-backed tech firms, coddled, money-for-nearly-free Wall Street or for the government, your income and standard of living has probably declined since the middle of the last decade.

I wonder if there’s any other reason Obama and Geithner (why the Republican Bernanke is grouped in there, I have no idea) haven’t reversed a 30-year trend in the last four? Perhaps they were busy staving off a depression? And maybe that Great Recession thing had something to do with exacerbating the decline in American standards of living.

I’ll be the first to say the priority this administration places on finance is troubling, but that didn’t cause the general trend of declining standards of living that kicked off in the 80s and conservatives offer no alternative. If anything conservatives revile Obama for not catering to Wall Street enough.

If the main focus of progressives was to promote upward mobility, they would deserve their predicted political hegemony. But current day leftism is more about style, culture and green consciousness than jobs and opportunity. It’s more Vogue’s Anne Wintour than Harry Truman. Often times the gentry agenda — for example favoring higher housing and energy prices — directly conflicts with the interests of middle and working class families.

OK, this liberal gets a limousine

OK, this liberal gets a limousine

“Higher housing and energy prices?” So I guess the era of blaming Democrats for the sub-prime crisis and Solyndra is over. The “Obama is backed by the unions” rhetoric is apparently gone too. Just more empty jabs at “limousine liberals.”

The progressive coalition also has little to offer to the private sector small business community, which should be producing jobs as they have in the wake of previous recessions but have failed to do so this time.

Having tried to start a small business in the last few years, I’d cite the fact that banks are not lending anything to anybody rather than Obama for the problems facing small businesses.

An old Democrat of the Truman and Pat Brown, perhaps even Bill Clinton, genre would be pushing our natural gas revolution, a key to blue-collar rejuvenation, instead of seeking to slow it down.

What? No.

They would be looking to raise revenues from Wall Street plutocrats rather than raise taxes on modestly successful Main Street businesses.

The hardware store is turning in millions in capital gains, eh? Very little small business income is going to see a tax increase. What about those “small businesses” that John Boehner keeps telling us will suffer under Obama taxes? The boutique-sized private equity firms. You know, the WALL STREET PLUTOCRATS the article wants Obama to target.

A HUD interested in upward mobility and families would be pressing for more detached housing and dispersal of work, not forcing the masses to live in ever smaller, cramped and expensive lodgings.

Great…you guys going to authorize the tax dollars for that?

The article concludes with the rank assertion that Latino voters might leave the Democratic coalition because they like driving pickups and living in ranch housing — seriously, that’s the argument — and that young voters will start families and move out of cities. But there is no reason why this naturally turns people conservative.

If the author intended to attack the Democratic Party from the Left and suggest a renewed focus on rebuilding private-sector unions and massive federal investments in housing and education, that’s all well and good. But it’s really a clumsy attempt to school his readers to approach their liberal friends and spout these critiques of Democrats in the vain hope that all liberals are too stupid to ask whether the Republicans will offer a better vision. Dumb.

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