Thursday, July 17, 2008

And We Also Need to Pay Them . . .

Classisist Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institute wants America to de-emphasize the sedentary, bureaucratic arts before the United States goes the way of other previously great nations.

American universities bragged that they were teaching the world how to design and engineer -- as our own kids gravitated to law and management schools. We relied on a paternalistic government to regulate what we shouldn't do rather than turn to our best and brightest private citizens to show us what we could.

Alas, no successful civilization in history -- Greece, Rome, England, France, the list goes on -- ever found prosperity through its bureaucrats and lawyers.

Instead, Hanson wants America to re-emphasize manual labor.
A new, hungrier generation of Americans will have to want to reclaim our pre-eminence and change the national attitude. It must be ready to pay off generations of debt rather than borrow, build rather than sue, and drill rather than whine.

It's time to honor rather than avoid and outsource physical labor. Our children are healthy enough to cut our own lawns and pick our fruit.

Except for the drilling, I'm all for that. I went the grad school/professor route myself but it's an injustice that manual labor of all kinds is so devalued in American society. It's also wrong that so many students are in college who don't want to be because of the lack of well-paid manual labor positions.

The best way to change things around is to create incentives for factory work, mining, building, farming, and other kinds of manual labor. All of these kinds of jobs would be more attractive and valued more highly if they had more job security, paid better, and had more effective health plans.

But where are the resources for increasing the welfare of manual workers going to be found?

How about creating disincentives for overpaid CEO's, Wall Street financial manipulations, high end trial lawyering, rainmaking lobbyists, and other occupations that tend to detract from the welfare of American society.

The policy prescriptions for more appropriately distributing wealth are well-known.

The United States could raise taxes on the wealthy to European levels, deny federal contracts to companies that overpay CEO's, socialize health care, and rely on government agencies rather than lawsuits to curb business abuses.

As Victor Davis Hanson would say, "the fate of Western Civilization is at stake."

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