How are wages set in the United States?
American Compass’s Oren Cass suggests that the professional class might learn from the pandemic that “material living standards” do not always translate into “quality of life.”
In March, I could see that our social response to the coronavirus would be more consequential than the virus itself. Natural disasters can do great damage, but they do not usually change societies. By contrast, mass mobilizations for wars in the modern era have been deeply consequential.
Earlier this month I visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, located at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. often stayed and where on April 4, 1968 he was assassinated while standing on the outside balcony, chatting with colleagues and getting ready for dinner.
On the most recent episode of Jonah Goldberg’s podcast, The Remnant, AEI director of economic policy studies Michael Strain delivers a harsh assessment of projects like American Compass.
Over the last several decades a major shift has occurred in how many U.S. elites – pundits, advocates, policy makers, and others – think and talk about corporations. For much of the 20th century most elites viewed corporations as an institutional tool by which America could best achieve its most important economic goals: innovation and increasing living standards. To be sure, there would always the occasional Enron or Tyco scofflaw, but these were seen as the exception, to be prosecuted and shunned.
With surging COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country and a widely available vaccine months away—and with consumer and investor confidence and spending likely to be weak even with a vaccine—the odds are quite high that economic recovery will be long, drawn-out, and weak. As such, Congress is rightly debating a fifth economic recovery package.
As we seek a realignment in American political economy we would do well to rediscover the thought of a 19th-century critic who did not like us very much. John Ruskin (1819–1900) found Americans obsessed with a liberty he considered license and naively committed to an ideal of equality he believed impossible: “also, as a nation, they are wholly undesirous of Rest, and incapable of it.” In her utilitarian preoccupation with commercial ventures, America had inherited Montaigne’s English vice of inquietude and seemed unlikely to recover.
The decline in American manufacturing hurt workers of every racial background.
In a recent Real Clear Markets column, economist John Tamny made the case that Oren Cass’s policy advice is backwards and will result in political doom for, in Tamny’s words, “the hyper emotional Marco Rubio.”
Daniel Moynihan once stated that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” This is no more true than with today’s debate over the health of U.S. manufacturing; a debate that is critical to get right if policy makers are to respond appropriately.
The Senate is finally back in Washington and negotiations over the next coronavirus recovery package are underway. The White House’s initial salvo was reported Monday and includes a capital gains tax cut, a measure to increase entertainment tax deductions, and a payroll tax cut.
Before anyone had heard the term “COVID-19,” working America was already in a crisis.
For my inaugural post here on The Commons, I want to offer a few thoughts on how one of the pillars of the American Compass mission, community, has too often been a blind spot in the prevailing view of the economy.
Welcome to American Compass. Our mission is to restore an economic consensus that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity.