The political scene is full of phoney arguments about how to build prosperity. A realistic discussion of the future of the economy is needed and a good beginning point would be an agreement on some basic facts. Agreeing on the data provided in this little chart produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics would be a good start.
In 2010, 25.9% of U.S. jobs had a very low educational requirement — less than high school — and by 2020 the proportion of jobs with such a low educational requirement will be even more — 29.5%. By 2020, 39.7% of jobs will require only a high school education.
The conclusion is that by 2020, 69.2% of American jobs will need an educational level of high school or lower. If 100% of our citizenry have a college degree, it won’t change the fact that in 2020, 69.2% of jobs will only need a high school education, or less. These are the jobs of the working class. And most of these jobs will have such a low wage that these will be the jobs of the class of working poor.
Reality based political discussion should be founded on this basic fact: Most Americans, by far, are members of the working class, and the number of people in the working class is growing. The number of people in the middle class is shrinking. The number in the ruling class is small and fairly stable.
Defining “class” is important. “Class” is determined by the amount of power one has in the system. People in the working class, as individuals, have little power. People in the upper class, comparatively, have a lot of personal power.
Working class people throughout history have found that by standing together they could gain power and make advances for their class. This dynamic of history is now derided by the Fox News propagandists as something undesirable — “class warfare” — but it is a dynamic that more than anything has lifted humanity upwards to a better future.
If we are to have a meaningful political discussion about how to build a future where there is wide spread prosperity, it needs to be reality based. Many political discussions about how to advance future prosperity are based on phoney premises: training people for a “knowledge economy,” training people in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) or, even worse, changing laws to give corporations more power. Phoney arguments are ploys to avoid what is of core importance. Such discussion in a political context is like a magician’s distraction — “Look at this shiny object.” The point of the trick is to change the focus of the audience from what is important to what is of little importance. The point of phoney arguments is to divert the attention of the working class from what is important so ever more money and power can be put in the hands of the ruling class.
The hope for a good future for the biggest part of the American population is a political process where the working class stands together with the middle class to bring more justice to the system. A person adept in STEM may still be a member of the working poor — unless he or she has the power to negotiate a living wage.
How is it possible that a democratic nation as rich as ours should tolerate poor health care, poor nutrition, poor opportunities for a big majority of its citizens? The future of the working class depends on the degree it can find power through unity. Justice cannot be won without a struggle. We need to stop the phoney debates and start talking about what is real.