CHARLOTTESVILLE: WHY ECONOMIC POLICY MATTERS

A man with a gun is not dangerous, nor is a man with a flag.
The dangerous man is the one with no job, no purpose, and little or no hope.

I have bad news for everyone who promises to stamp out racism. It has been here for millennia and it will be here long after everyone reading this is gone. It didn’t start with black vs. white and won’t end with those colors, either. As it exists today, the racist strain is small, with the number of those practicing it dwarfed by the 320 million Americans that do not. Consider that the march in Charlottesville was a national call for people of that ilk to join and the final number who showed up was in the hundreds. They couldn’t even fill the streets. Still, racism will never die.

I do not hate either side that engaged in the violence that day — the bigoted neo Nazis nor the masked and violent vandals of Antifa. I can only pity them. The truth is that they are all lost souls who at some point in their lives lost purpose, lost hope, and lost affection, then sought replacements from the worst possible sources, oftentimes, the only one made available to them.

As I watched clips of the march and counter-protest, it occurred to me that if both sides engaged in real communication, rather than meeting hate with hate, they would have discovered that many of them had one thing in common. They would have noticed that a great number of the members of each group are among the economically disenfranchised.

One thing women will never understand fully about men is the sense of self-worth that work provides them. In the absence of work, or in the performing of work that offers little opportunity or a worthwhile share in society, a man never feels whole. Without the ability to provide for himself or his family, a man will eventually believe he has no purpose. He will also begin to assign blame for his plight. The longer a man is in this state, the more susceptible he will be to distorted thoughts, ugly philosophies, and the welcoming arms of sympathetic hate-mongers who offer easy two-tone answers and the blood money of professional protesting. This is not only true in America but on the streets in countries where Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terror organizations flourish. Idle hands are truly the devil’s workshop.

When American companies began closing their American mills and factories and stopped providing American workers with jobs in the late 1980’s, they created another type of factory, one that began churning out displaced men. In 1993, Congress ratified and President Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and that unemployment factory went into full production mode. In addition to the 700,000 existing manufacturing jobs that almost instantly disappeared, an estimated 5 to 10 million jobs that would have been created for an eager and hungry workforce in America’s heartland were handed to people south of the border when American firms built their new factories in places like Chihuahua instead of Charlottesville. Non-college graduates who could once count on a place in America’s middle class with the help of their manufacturing jobs were cast into the socioeconomic pit of service jobs, leaving them forever pressing their noses up against the window of that middle class.

NAFTA became the most socially destabilizing policy ever put forth by America’s leaders. It has nearly hollowed out the middle class and is one of the chief causes of income inequality.

On its current course, the outlook for the American worker only gets worse.

Right now, there are a handful of billionaires paying armies of software engineers to develop artificial intelligence beings, advanced robotics, and autonomous (self-driving) vehicles. Combined, these creations will put tens of millions of Americans out of work and leave only the best and brightest of their children with middle- and upper-middle class jobs. They will dwarf NAFTA in terms of job destruction. Granted, we are probably at least two decades away from most of this to hit critical mass, but what is the plan for workers and their families? NAFTA was implemented without a single thought as to how we would deal with the displaced workers of its first generation and an equal amount of thought for its second. In the movie Jurassic Park, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) challenges Hammond, the park’s creator with the movie’s best and most poignant line. “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Hammond manipulated life to create a self-enriching paradise. Elon Musk, et al are attempting to do the same with artificial life, potentially destroying real lives in the process just like Hammond. I do not fault their desire to proceed, but we can only label ourselves criminally negligent if we again fail the American worker with a lack of foresight and planning as we did with NAFTA.

A man with a good, family-sustaining middle-class job has something to protect. He has something to defend and he has self-worth. He has little time or patience for hate, marches, and counter-protests.

Yes, there is a lot more that goes into preventing one from slipping into the pit of racism and its new violent counter — education, empathy, and communication to name a few. However, with smarter growth-focused economic policies and more foresight and planning, we can choke off the supply of men (and women) who are vulnerable to their sick allure.

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2 thoughts on “CHARLOTTESVILLE: WHY ECONOMIC POLICY MATTERS

  1. Well said. I couldn’t agree more. However, you offer no solutions. Is it possible a solution doesn’t exist?

    Like

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