Reviving the Working Class Without Building Walls


The strangest aspect of the current presidential campaign is the staying power of the highly unconventional and controversial candidate Donald Trump. There is wide agreement that the secret of his success is his strong appeal to the members of the white working class whose incomes have been in decline for many years.
The plight of the working class is often viewed in the context of the overall increase in income inequality in the U.S.  My last two posts, here and here, are part of that discussion.
Mr. Trump appeals to these disaffected voters by vowing to wall off Mexico and cut back on foreign trade.  But it may be possible to “Revive the Working Class Without Building Walls” as Eduardo Porter suggests in the New York Times.  According to Mr. Porter, what are needed are new government programs such as wage insurance or direct government employment.
CaptureAlternatively we could meet the illegal immigration and trade protectionism problems in a much more growth oriented way as follows:

  • Immigration Reform. Set up an adequate Guest Worker program to serve only those businesses and industries which can demonstrate that they are unable to recruit enough local workers to meet their employment needs. Once the Guest Worker program is functioning properly, eVerify would be enforced to weed out unauthorized illegal workers and deport them back to their home countries. At the same time the number of H1-B visas would be expanded in order to retain more of the highly skilled foreigners getting advanced degrees in the U.S.
  • Foreign Trade. As the above chart shows, there is a close connection between world trade and world economic growth. And clearly the U.S. economy benefits from world-wide economic growth. The way to balance off job losses caused by foreign trade is with more effective trade-adjustment assistance and job retraining programs.

Whether or not Mr. Trump receives the Republican presidential nomination or is elected to be president in November, we should address the real grievances of his supporters in ways that benefit the entire economy.

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2 thoughts on “Reviving the Working Class Without Building Walls

  1. Jack,

    Before I respond to the issue of labor concerns, I want to mention the meeting last Thursday night. I did appreciate your question very much. I shall elaborate on my answer for a moment. My major aim to distinguish Empiricism and Rationalism is for logical matters and philosophical/religious concerns. Logically, if one proceeds from the senses, as do empiricists there is no clear way to bring in the mind or consciousness. The empiricists begin scientifically, I begin rationally or mentally. I identify the mind as one’s guide not the senses. Thus, I proceed from a survival or procreative mode rather than from the world-at-large. Perhaps if I get another opportunity I can follow up with several of the subjects I introduced Thursday night. I probably tried to do too many things last week.

    Now to the labor issue, “Yes, I agree with the urge to involve the government in assisting the working class, whites and others.” As you may know I worked for 12 years as a construction worker when completing my graduate and post-graduate studies. Fortunately, I worked for a commercial company that paid union wages. Were it not for that opportunity I would not have been able to get 10 or more years of post high school; particularly with fellowships and the GI bill, I managed to graduate with the Ph.D owing only $600.00. Such an opportunity could not be imagined today. Businesses, and now government, i.e. Wisconsin and the ‘Right to Work’ laws have weakened the worker’s source of joining together to have more strength than singly.

    From what I have gathered from your Christian base and morality, I believe you have a sense of fairness that is not often found from the business person. Profit-making prods inventiveness, however, it also means everyone works to best the other, hardly a society of cooperation. Competition, too, has its merits when monopolists do not prevail.

    So, I think.


    • Businesses do need to make a profit or else they’ll go out of business. It seems to me that the best approach is for government to adopt policies which promote economic growth. This puts labor in greater demand which means that good workers will be treated more fairly by the employer to keep them on the job. Right to work laws do boost economic growth and so are beneficial in this respect. We are fortunate in Nebraska to have low unemployment so that employers will try harder to treat their workers fairly.

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