Democrats and Republicans blame each other for the present-day plight of the middle class. Geoff Colvin of Fortune says “we’ll be hearing much, much more campaign blather” on the topic in the months ahead.
Colvin isn’t buying the rhetoric. His latest column explains why. The following passage is particularly interesting; it reminds us that the federal government is not the primary source for the changes middle-class Americans need.
It’s clear what the problem is not. It’s not that the middle class got clobbered in the recession — that is, the recession’s end isn’t rescuing the middle class. Nor is the problem that income inequality increased, because it didn’t during the recession; top earners on average got clobbered even worse in the recession than the middle class did. The problem is that the middle class isn’t supplying the new skills that the world is demanding. We can fix that problem. We fixed it in the early 20th century and again in the 1960s after Sputnik by overhauling our education system. That is mainly a state and local job, not a federal one. Above all, it’s a cultural change. Presidents can do a little but not a lot to make it happen.
As we hear the endless sound bites during the coming presidential contest, we as voters need to grit our teeth and remind ourselves that we know what really needs doing, and it’s mostly in our own hands.