The Charlotte Observer published an op-ed in last Sunday’s edition entitled, Addressing the Problems of the Modern-Day ‘Okies.’ Clark G. Ross, a professor of economics at Davidson College, presented a clever dichotomy of democratic vs. republican economic policies by contrasting the travails of Steinbeck’s Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath with today's displaced working-class.
Once again, we have an academic extolling moral equivalency as a means to mitigate the corrupt and self-serving policies of the Democratic Party. If this sounds partisan, so be it. I for one will not mince words. Trade policies such as NAFTA and GATT directly contributed to the demise of the textile and furniture industry in the Carolinas along with taxation and regulatory mandates from overzealous bureaucrats in Washington D.C. How can any country compete with a third world hellhole when the rules are lopsided?
Here is an excerpt from Mr. Ross’s op-ed:
As we listen in July 2016 to the national political conventions at which the powerless are courted by both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, I ask myself whether either candidate really has a message of hope for the Joads of 2016. For we have such people today, they just do not come from small, formerly sharecropped farms. Where do they come from?
Some had been coal miners in West Virginia. From environmental regulations to attractive and competitive energy alternatives to public unease with coal, that industry has lost significant production and employment. The former textile workers of central and eastern North Carolina, as well as those in South Carolina face bleak job prospects. Imported textile items dominate our markets. The producers of steel and autos of the mid-west or Rust Belt also face challenges from imports. To the three examples mentioned above, others can be added. What are these workers to do? The Joads at least had the illusory promise of migrating westward, hoping to find a better economic life. Today’s “displaced migrants” have fewer options. There is always the overcrowded service sector, that unskilled labor market, where wages are pushed down, by the same competitive pressures that Steinbeck showed lowering the wage rate for fruit and vegetable pickers. Ironically, activity in this market has contributed to a very low rate of unemployment with a high rate of part-time, low-wage jobs.
What do we tell these workers, the “Okies” of today? Ironically, in this election, it is the Democrats who are essentially arguing the merits of free trade. Their answer for today’s displaced workers is that we no longer have “comparative advantage” in your field. How helpful is this? Does articulating this economic principle and reality generate new jobs for them? The Trump Republicans are saying that the government with poorly negotiated trade deals exploited them, as hapless workers. With better trade protections, we will recreate these jobs. And, with the Trump immigration policies, Mexicans will not steal them, they say. Are these the same type of misleading offers like the 1930s handbills, promising good jobs and high wages?
Every one of these assaults on industry is the result of Democratic Party policies. The attack on coal is an Obama policy. And believe me, there is nothing attractive, or competitive about solar and wind energy. It's not even sustainable.
NAFTA and GATT were results of the Clinton administration. The only bipartisan policy is illegal aliens stealing jobs from American citizens. And believe me, these people are not picking vegetables and fruit from farms. They are in the trades.
The only misleading handbills being promulgated are Democrats promising they’re looking out after the middle-class. Only a fool would believe that.
One must wonder, what is the intent of this article? What is this exercise in economic moral equivalency all about? It can be summarized in this one paragraph:
The remedy for their cause and their plight may first need the 21 century equivalent of a compassionate and gifted individual who can articulate the depth of their challenge. Then a true bipartisan consensus, formed out of good will and without the anchor of political expediency needs to formulate effective policies. Such policies must recognize that the current beneficiaries of our societal changes must share some of the gain with those upon whose shoulders our past affluence was built.
Well, if that is the case, the current beneficiaries of our societal changes are the politicians, federal bureaucrats and the crony capitalist in Washington D.C. who has built castles upon the sands of our Dust Bowl.