Liza Featherstone at In These Times writes—Reviving Manufacturing Would Help All of Us—Not Just White Men:
Manufacturing, once nearly a third of U.S. gross domestic product, has dwindled to around 12 percent, a punch to the gut for the American working class. Indeed, the sufferings of that sector’s former workers—and of those who live in once-thriving factory towns—may be responsible for Donald Trump’s extraordinary and catastrophic victory over Hillary Clinton in November.
A billionaire fixing to wage a horrific war on the working class now that he is president—by gutting its healthcare and labor rights—Trump nonetheless seemed to be listening to these forgotten people during his campaign. He went to their towns. He spoke with compassion about opioid addiction. He promised to “Make America Great Again,” a racist slogan, to be sure, but also a seductive one, implying that under Trump, American workers would enjoy the prosperity of bygone manufacturing days. We would make things again and feel proud of ourselves.
It was all bullshit, of course. Trump’s idea of industrial policy is to exaggerate how many jobs in Indianapolis he saved with a phone call and some tweets. Louis Uchitelle, by contrast, is serious about what the issue means for American workers. In his crisp, persuasive and deeply reported book, Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters, the veteran journalist argues that domestic manufacturing is crucial to the welfare of the U.S. working class and that the federal government should intervene decisively to ensure the sector’s health.
Without manufacturing, the “labor force participation rate” in the United States—people either employed or actively looking for jobs—has declined dramatically since 1998, as millions of laid-off workers have simply dropped out of the workforce. Not only those workers, but many of their children, have been unable to find good jobs. Uchitelle recalls that when he started reporting on the sector in the 1980s, line workers often told him that their children would “do better” than they had, meaning they would make more money.
“That did not happen,” Uchitelle writes, “and gradually the expression—and the expectation—have both disappeared.”
The liberal punditocracy—because of Trump’s cynical use of the manufacturing issue, as well as its own contempt for workers—has been a font of misinformation on this subject ever since the election. Syndicated columnist Jill Filipovic excoriated an old order in which “white men” without college degrees enjoyed “unearned benefits.” Writing in Slate, Jamelle Bouie claimed that journalists and politicians pay more attention to the woes of manufacturing workers than they should. Why is that? Because, Bouie crows, those workers are “mostly white and mostly male.” Paul Krugman picked up this bit of insight and trumpeted it gleefully in his New York Times column. But these demographic generalities, while crudely true, are breathtakingly beside the point. About a third of manufacturing workers are women, and African-American men are slightly overrepresented in the sector versus their share of the overall workforce. Don’t these workers also matter?
When elite pundits gas on in this manner, they ignore many of the Americans most devastated by the loss of factories: black workers in major cities and the black people who live in such cities. Uchitelle’s book convincingly argues that the federal government’s failure to stop jobs from moving, not only from Detroit to China, but from urban neighborhoods to rural areas, is a “civil rights” issue. […]
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“Because there is global insecurity, nations are engaged in a mad arms race, spending billions of dollars wastefully on instruments of destruction, when millions are starving. And yet, just a fraction of what is expended so obscenely on defense budgets would make the difference in enabling God’s children to fill their stomachs, be educated, and given the chance to lead fulfilled and happy lives. We have the capacity to feed ourselves several times over, but we are daily haunted by the spectacle of the gaunt dregs of humanity shuffling along in endless queues, with bowls to collect what the charity of the world has provided, too little too late. When will we learn, when will the people of the world get up and say, Enough is enough.”
~Desmond Tutu, Nobel Lecture, 1984
TWEET OF THE DAY
I have a message for you guys. #ScienceMarch pic.twitter.com/ZnkFIIksdx
Ã¢Â€Â” Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) February 10, 2017
BLAST FROM THE PAST
At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Desperately seeking WMDs:
This is pretty pathetic. We’ve gone from claiming “hundreds of tons” of chemical and biological agents, to dismantling a so-called mobile lab fervently hoping to find a molecule or two of the stuff.
[Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence] Cambone said that experts had done initial tests on a trailer taken into custody April 19 at a Kurdish checkpoint in northern Iraq but said more substantial testing is required.
Cambone said the surface of it was washed with a caustic material and it likely would have to be dismantled before testing can be done on hard-to-reach surfaces.
In other words, their initial tests came up with nothing. But what the heck — announce the find. Make a big deal about how this justifies the war and its thousands dead and $80 billion (and counting), and then meekly admit, on page 37, that perhaps they jumped the gun (again). Indeed, Cambone already admits that some of the equipment on the truck could be “used for purposes other than biological weapons agent production.” This is tiring. Why not shut their trap until they confirm the recent presence of banned substances? Because these leaks serve to advance the administration’s lies regarding the justification for war.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Greg Dworkin joins in offering our congratulations to France in dodging a bullet. The AHCA’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad weekend. Sally Yates heads to the Hill to testify. Trump blames Flynn on Obama. Kushners caught red-handed selling green cards.
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