They All Did

There’s an old joke about a married couple, starving in a freezing garret. At last, fainting with hunger, the husband tells the wife that she will need to walk the streets and sell her body so that they can eat. She leaves and returns two hours later, flinging fifty dollars and a dime at his feet.

“Who gave you the dime?” he asks. To which, she defiantly replies,
“They all did.”

You could say the same thing about who screwed the American worker.

The worsening prospects for low-education American workers over the last 40 years is a hard problem because it is overdetermined. Almost every plausible candidate for a cause of this deterioration has its partisans, and all of them have believable evidence at hand. Immigration, deunionization, “bad trade deals,” automation, low-inflation monetary policy, slowed GDP growth, worsened human capital, regulatory overreach, mass incarceration, cultural changes that make working less attractive, fragmented families, welfare state programs and technology that make not-working tolerable if not enjoyable, government programs and philanthropy dedicated to “fighting” various social ills that instead create vested interests in perpetuating those problems while disrupting civil society that can actually ameliorate them, reduced social trust, cultural fragmentation and diminished sense of national identity, unhealthy lifestyles, an education and credential-based economy that necessarily excludes a huge fraction of the society, a ruling class that despises half the country

No one wants the real cause to be: all the above.


2 thoughts on “They All Did

  1. I’ve said the twentieth century was overdetermined, meaning that there probably wasn’t much we could have done to make the parade of horribles less horrible. It looks like the twenty-first century is shaping up to be much the same.

    Liked by 2 people

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