Accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, Hillary Clinton declared the country is at a moment of reckoning.
Here’s the truth: America’s economy is a mess and our social fabric is fraying. That’s why Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton, offers a better way forward.
Powerful computers, the Internet, handheld devices, robots and artificial intelligence are making our lives easier but they are also destroying jobs at an alarming pace. And the new opportunities those technologies create require better skills than most Americans have.
Politicians have pumped billions into public schools and universities led by faculty obsessed with political correctness and the alleged ills of American capitalism, financed vast entitlements instead of adequate investments in RD and the infrastructure, and sowed divisions and suspicion among ethnic groups, and between men and women and the prosperous and those genuinely deserving a hand up.
Our High schools churn out students unprepared for college or vocational programs, and many university graduates lack the skills needed to function in a technology-intensive workplace. Businesses constantly complain about the shortage of adequately skilled job applicants.
All this is exacerbated by competition from Japan, Germany and other northern European countries where job training is better and from China and elsewhere in Asia where labor is much cheaper. Those pressures are multiplied by Washington’s failure to negotiate good international trade agreements and adequately defend Americans against foreign cheating on those agreements.
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Since 2000, a much smaller percentage of adults are working or looking for work, economic growth is half the pace of the prior 20 years, and average family incomes are down nearly $4,000.
Suicides and drug abuse are up, fertility has dropped precipitously, millions of recent college graduates are employed at places like Starbucks and living with parents, and home ownership is at a 50 year low.
American society is increasingly polarized between the top 25 percent who manage to obtain a good education, land a high paying job and pay most of the taxes, and those who are stuck in dead end situations and clamor for more government benefits to shore up their diminished circumstances.
President Obama has pandered to the latter by expanding entitlements such as the earned income tax credit and food stamps, middle class subsidies for health insurance and student loans forgiveness, and social security disability pensions for 1 in 20 working age Americans.
He tells the inadequately trained, minorities and women they are victims of forces beyond their control and entrenched discrimination, and pressures universities and businesses to implement racial and gender quotas in admissions and hiring.
Those tactics win votes but discourage self-improvement and individual accountability, widen the skills gap between the haves and have-nots and further exacerbate inequality.
Now Hillary Clinton wants to generalize to the national level the California Fair Pay Act, which would require businesses of all sizes to justify virtually every hiring and salary decision to the Labor Department, extend Medicare to Americans over 50, establish broad federal funding for child care, and offer most Americans free tuition at state universities.
Already, the federal debt is on track to double over next 12 years, and Clinton’s prescriptions would only slow growth further and hasten the ultimate collapse of the nation’s finances.
Donald Trump indicts the tyranny and destructive consequences of political correctness and identity politics. But no politician can run and win the presidency by promising to cut social programs.
He does promise to do something about bad trade agreements and the high taxes smothering new business startups and investment. To lower taxes, he would be compelled by Congress to curtail the worst abuses of government benefits programs and thereby restore some individual responsibility to citizens for their successes and failures.
Trump’s language may be crude — but after nearly 50 years in the trenches of academia, managing in government, advising corporate leaders and toiling in policy battles of Washington — I can attest he is absolutely right.
The problem he or any Republican faces running for president is that too many Americans have become dependent on government largess and preferences for employment opportunities. None can speak honestly without being branded a racist, sexist, homophobe or simply insensitive, and ridiculed to their demise in the New York Times, Washington Post and major network newscasts.
With each new president, more Americans go on the dole or benefit from some kind of government mandated sinecure and fewer are engaged in productive activities. Growth slows further, the debt increases and opportunities for young people become less adequate.
This can only end by Americans rejecting Clinton and voting for Trump to take back their dignity, or the country falling into complete dysfunction, decay and ultimate collapse.
Peter Morici served as Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission from 1993 to 1995. He is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and a widely published columnist. He is the five time winner of the MarketWatch best forecaster award. Follow him on Twitter @PMorici1.