The title was so catchy, I couldn’t resist reading this essay by Christopher Ketchem at Truthdig. Two points caught my attention:
“I’ve been thinking recently of another old man, a friend of the family named A.J. Centola, who went homeless a few years back… A.J. and I used to sit around gabbing on afternoons, walking around the old neighborhood, Carroll Gardens, where he grew up during the last Great War, [with]… merchant marines in boardinghouses, and dockworkers, ironworkers, grocers, and freelance laborers like him.”
“…A.J. said one day. “…You have one class now in Carroll Gardens, the mono-class of the rich. No industry, no trades, no jobs for the average person to pull himself up. Now it’s all restaurants on Court Street that the old-timers can’t afford. People live their whole lives in the same place, and then this is not their place.”
What struck me was the idea that there were jobs in the neighborhood: diverse jobs in industry (ironworkers), trades (grocers) and manual labor that paid good enough to raise a family on (merchant marines, dockworkers). As both Robert Reich and John Taylor spoke to on PBS Newshour today, the principle problem is jobs and low economic growth.
If Americans want to get serious about increased jobs that pay wages sufficient to grow and build a middle class, we’re going to need industry, trades, skilled and manual labor sectors. I can’t imagine a highly industrial America. But its clear jobs will have to come in many different forms, to fit different worker skills.
It won’t be easy, but I’m confident adjustments will be made by government so that capitalism again advances the interests of the people. Gainful employment is at the top of everyone’s list.