Anyway, despite Paul Krugman's role in the stupidity of my own anxious, whiny political evolution, he has written an interesting article today. The point is that people exaggerate how important education is for a person's economic fate. Many jobs that would require higher education are easily replaced (or at least diminished) by globalization and technology, while many jobs that do not require education are not as easily replaced. Delivery boys (which is Fry's job in the old TV show Futurama) and janitors are all right. Many lawyers are not.
This has a general effect of "hollowing out" the American economy. There are going to be a lot of poor people. There are going to be some rich people. The middle class is not as important as it has been. Here is where Krugman's article becomes tricky.
So if we want a society of broadly shared prosperity, education isn’t the answer — we’ll have to go about building that society directly. We need to restore the bargaining power that labor has lost over the last 30 years, so that ordinary workers as well as superstars have the power to bargain for good wages. We need to guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen.
Notice that he writes "broadly shared prosperity" instead of the middle class. This, I believe, is correct. Technology and globalization are too strong to be fought as they destroy the middle class by hollowing it out. The fairest and most efficient solution is to make sure that people who are not at the top have enough money and access to resources that they can make the most out of their lives.
A strong welfare state is definitely part of this, but Obamacare may not be. Obamacare may expand access to health care and lower the amount of money the economy spendson health care in the long-term, it may put too many costs on a few people who would subsidize it through higher premiums that they cannot really afford in order to be fair. Also, I am not sure about bargaining power for labor unions. That seems like an attempt to restore the middle-class by raising wages for a few people according to the desires of the union at the expense of low prices and at the expense of the ability of a single worker to negotiate for herself with an employer under the rights and responsibilities they are directly assigned by the state, instead of having to go through the alternate sovereignty of a labor union. But maybe I'm wrong. It definitely makes sense for the bellatores, the warriors, to continue to be a middle class as they will need to be better off than the less successful people who may try to fight. Labor union rights may be important for this necessarily reduced middle cass. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin pointed in this direction when he exempted the police and fire fighters (who can be turned into a kind of police) from his attempts to limit collective bargaining.
Ugh, for a long time I thought I was one of the big winners (while I secretly knew that I was not), but now I only hope that I can be a big winner. It was hard for me to do this, and for a long time it involved raging against technology and globalization (which I sort of do still), but now I am focused on living the best as I can as who I am, as someone whose middle-class possibilities may have been hollowed-out.