Here in Georgia we have politicians skipping over policy challenges facing us as a society--such as how do we improve the labor market?--and shifting to blame and finger pointing. Campaign 2014 looks to be stacking up as a loud and proud declaration by GOP politicians that we should prepare for another decade of economic decline here in America.
Republicans seem intent on putting a downward pressure on the wages of hard working Americans in order to motivate lazy people to get off their butts; as Karen Handel, a GOP candidate for US Senate inferred recently...
For Karen Handel, and the GOP broadly here in Georgia, people are choosing to live off the sparse social safety net rather than venture in to the labor market to utilize their resources and capacities.
Accept their position at face value for a moment. This speaks to a labor market that lacks quality jobs; not an epidemic of laziness and cultural decline. A strong labor market of rising wages and quality jobs would have people rushing into the labor market, it would have business increasing wages to steal the best workers from their competitors--instead we face a nation of unemployed workers who are giving up the job search all together.
Think about it for a second. The context of Handel's statement has to be taken in to account--she is saying this in the midst of a stagnant labor market, the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Depression--we need to further erode wages and force American workers who are already stretched to the point of breaking to work more hours for less money!!!
Lets say we all agree on the challenge--too many people on food stamps and Medicaid. So once we agree that our goal should be to reduce these numbers, we have to think through the way to answer this challenge.
The answer isn't to point blame at those caught up in the policy decisions of a few generations of politicians--who created a low wage, no benefit, part-time economy of record corporate profits and record food stamp recipients. Too many people on food stamps?--Reduce the safety-net!!!--cry Republicans like Karen Handel.
But that's the wrong answer and shows a serious detachment to the very real challenges workers are facing.
The answer should be sought with an eye to market outcomes and how the price system can be used to influence individual behaviors. The answer should be sought via ways to improve the labor market.
Finger pointing at those with the least power or ability to influence and impact how we structure our markets speaks to a political class that either a) wants to put downward pressure on wages and is using moralism as a stealth way to to do so (aka lying) b) a political class of clueless and dimwitted.
The better question to ask is--how can we work to drive up wages so that we can utilize the price-system and motivate people into working more so that they no longer require a safetynet to just get by?
Until Republican begin to run candidates who fight to improve the labor market we will face major challenges of Governance.
The efforts of the GOP to block everything Democrats propose--aside from handouts to corporations--means we will just continue the downward spiral of lower wages and lower quality of life for American workers. Here in Georgia the GOP control the State Legislature so an improvement in the quality of candidates they run is not likely on the horizon.
We face an economic decline which has come via a course set by both Republican and Democratic policy makers over the past 3 decades. Democrats have started to change course, but they are going to need the help of Republicans to make it happen.
From the looks of the campaigns people like Karen Handel are running here in Georgia prepare for another decade of decline. Republicans seem unwilling to rebuild the American economy and the quality of life for all of us will suffer as a consequence.
Whats worse, they seem quite proud of this.