Sunday, October 28, 2012

Men Overboard

David Ruccio has posted a very interesting piece referring to the findings of Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney with regard to working-age American men. The results are catastrophically bad. According to Greenstone and Looney:
"When we consider all working-age men, including those who are not working, the real earnings of the median male have actually declined by 19 percent since 1970. This means that the median man in 2010 earned as much as the median man did in 1964 — nearly a half century ago. Men with less education face an even bleaker picture; earnings for the median man with a high school diploma and no further schooling fell by 41 percent from 1970 to 2010.  

Women have fared much better over these 40 years, but they started from a lower level, and the same problems faced by their male counterparts are beginning to have an effect. Since 1970, the earnings of the median female worker have increased by 71 percent, and the share of women 25 to 64 who are employed has risen to 71 percent, from 54 percent. But after making significant wage gains over several decades, that progress has slowed and even reversed recently. Since 2000, the earnings of the median woman have fallen by 6 percent." [Emphasis added].
When people like William Bennett complain about men being in trouble and the lack of proper fathers in today's society, it is important to remember that it is precisely those neoliberal economic policies favored by "conservatives" such as Bennett that have destroyed the material basis for strong families headed by male breadwinners. To make things clearer, I give you an excellent quote by David Lindsay which can be applied to the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere:
"Far from our having grown richer since 1979, we have in fact grown vastly poorer: only a generation ago, a single manual wage provided the wage-earner, his wife and their several children with a quality of life unimaginable even on two professional salaries today.

This impoverishment has been so rapid and so extreme that most people, including almost all politicians and commentators, simply refuse to acknowledge that it has happened. But it has indeed happened.

And it is still going on."
There is an urgent need to return to a political order that places strong families at the center of economic policy. Only a system of full employment at family wages can achieve this goal. Giorgio La Pira, the former mayor of Florence, Italy, once said that:
"If I am a man of the State, my rejection of unemployment and of neediness must imply   this: my economic policies must strive towards blue-collar employment and the eradication of poverty: this is clear! No specious objection emerging from any so-called 'laws of economics' can detract me from striving towards this objective."
La Pira was a consistent fighter for both social justice and family values. La Pira campaigned for the inclusion of a line in the Italian Constitution of 1947 making fathers "first among equals" in relation to the upbringing of children and opposing the introduction of divorce into Italian law. La Pira's position was a consistent one that took into account the material, legal, and spiritual aspects of family life. This is the approach needed today, not the half-hearted and incomplete proposals of the Republicans and Democrats and similar neoliberal parties across the globe.

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