Donald Trump was elected President last fall because of his surprising and unexpected strength with blue-collar workers. These folks have had a rough time in the 21st century economy: high unemployment, unstable marriages, opioid addition, lower longevity, etc.
My last post discusses a new book by Richard Reeves which makes the case that the real inequality in the U.S. is between the top 20% (the upper middle class) and the lower 80%. The upper middle class are mostly the well-educated professionals who benefit from the modern high-tech global economy. Mr. Reeves believes that this elite group is so entrenched with privileges as to be self-perpetuating. His response to this situation is to try to expand opportunity more widely by, for example:
- Reducing unintended pregnancies through better contraception by making LARCs (long-acting reversible contraceptives) more widely available to free more young women from the burden of unwanted children.
- Expanding access to early childhood education including home visitation to give a big preschool boost especially to kids from low-income families.
- Getting better teachers for unlucky kids by giving teachers a substantial bonus to teach in high poverty schools. This will attract better teachers to the more challenging schools.
- Funding college more fairly. Free college is a terrible idea. It would just be yet another boondoggle for the upper middle class. All student debt repayment should be income-based. The status of vocational postsecondary learning (at community colleges) should be elevated.
Conclusion. The idea here is not to pull down those who are well off but rather to give more people the opportunity to succeed in the modern economy. Of course, faster economic growth is another way to create more and better paying jobs. But faster economic growth has its own limitations and, at any rate, is difficult to achieve with a rapidly aging population. I will return to this topic soon!