(Click on image to enlarge and then return.)
David Horsey raises a very valid point in May 2 column: neither of the two current candidates for president are talking meaningfully on the one issue that most concerns the electorate, the economy.
A political campaign is about the worst time to have a discussion about economic realities. The party that is out will speak of nothing but looming disaster while the party that is in will be singing nothing but “Happy Days Are Here Again.” And, since our current political system is in a permanent campaign mode, economics never escapes the warp of politics.
The truth is, it is easy for politicians to pick and choose among the facts to support whatever best serves their campaigns because economic news can be good and bad at the same time. ...
The problem is also that what ails us is something neither candidate wants to talk about. The world has changed so much in the last twenty years that the glib promises don't make sense anymore, even if they do reassure nervous voters. The steel mills that closed in Ohio are not going to reopen because other countries can make steel cheaper and free-trade agreements preclude any kind of subsidies by the government. Technology has increased productivity so that fewer workers are needed to do the jobs their parents did. Even with additional skill training, there just aren't the same number of jobs, and laid-off people in their fifties have discovered that painful fact.
Reality is a more complicated thing. The nimble, productive, high-profit dynamo that Daniel Gross describes as America’s new economic model is making plenty of people rich. Nevertheless, it is different from the old economy. It requires fewer workers. Those who are lucky enough to have jobs often do not have the benefits, job security and solid middle-class salaries that were more plentiful in the old economy. Older workers may never find a place in this new system. Young people with only a high school education can expect a life of underemployment. Those who have gone deep into debt borrowing to pay for a college education may spend years after graduation waiting tables or making lattes before they find a job that matches their skills.
Meanwhile, most politicians, including the two presidential contenders, pretend we can return to something akin to the old system because they know that is what voters want to believe.
A more worthy debate would be one in which both candidates acknowledge the true facts of the situation and each one then laid out their vision on how to meet the challenges of the new world in a fair and equitable fashion to all people, not just the 1%.
Sadly, I doubt that will happen in my life time.