Through all the election season noise–jolts and umbrage, hopes for a candidate to lead us out of this mess–we are finally getting somewhere. Somewhere, where we can see we need to lead the leaders.
We are finally getting beyond parsing the words of the candidates to get a close look at big groups of their supporters. And as Eduardo Porter pointed out in his column in Wednesday’s New York Times, “Reviving the Working class Without Building Walls,” our current economic system has left in the dust our once-proud-to-contribute blue collar white men.
It hasn’t hurt only them, to be sure, but they perhaps have been the most ignored in recent years. Now that we’re finally getting serious in examining our drift away from equality, we’re being reminded how many of us are stuck, mired in low incomes with no economic mobility in sight. It wasn’t always that way, and doesn’t have to be that way now.
Yet the political right has succeeded so well in demonizing the poor and the struggling, that now we see too many of the poor ready to vote against themselves if instead they are offered the bone of pride, and the chance to stick it to others.
But columnist Eduardo Porter, though he lists some steps that could begin to relieve and improve the economic lives of the working class, is himself mired in an economic meme that goes unexamined at the national level: early in his column he speaks of the “global economy” as if it is a good thing to put all our eggs in one basket. Have we learned nothing from “too big to fail?” If trade deals put us all in the same boat, in a bath tub subject to tsunami waves and dislocations, how can tweaking things help us?
The answers are being found at local and regional levels, in such structures as worker-owned cooperatives. The big global corporations do not have to own us. We can still choose to put some of our eggs in a safer basket, nearer home.