My Labor Day rant to a friend

I loved the Krugman piece you forwarded..

If you want to get mad, read the attached Heritage email. The whole email infuriates me, but especially who they pick as the centerpiece: Ashton Kutcher. This is what the self-laudatory species of capitalists always do. They find examples of people who made it, but the examples are always people with unique talent or, in the case of Kutcher, unique looks. (He was drinking his way through college, per Wikipedia, when a modeling scout signed him up.) Yes, a Bill Gates or an Ashton Krutcher can avoid poverty, even if their parents aren’t rich. But what about regular people?

Krutcher may well have worked hard, but he lucked into his looks. Same with Gates and Krugman on their intelligence. Capitalism does a great job at rewarding those with unique gifts, which we need, but it no longer rewards the labor of those without unique gifts.

Hard work no longer gets the average person — one without unique intelligence or looks or talent — into the middle class. A hard-working person of average talent, but no family money, can’t go to college. He can’t pay for health care. He can’t save for a house. Thirty years ago, when a low-skill job at Wolverine or 3M paid enough for a middle-class existence, most people had access to the “American Dream.” They had opportunity, and they could provide opportunity for their children.

That has changed. Since 2009, 60% of the jobs that have been created pay less than $11 an hour. No one can accumulate capital at those wages, and success in America is impossible for those who can’t accumulate capital.

Sorry for the rant. Labor Day always brings out my worst.

Eric

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Filed under Capitalism, Income inequality, Poverty

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