Robert Reich writes pointless left-wing polemics because he does not understand science, society, and human nature. His fetish with the middle class, and his notion that they are the backbone of the nation is quite wearying. He laments, in Why The Economy Can’t Get Out of First Gear, that economic growth is hampered because middle class wages are down, that it was middle class prosperity and spending which expanded the economy in the post World War II era, and now that the middle class is no longer prosperous, the economy has ceased to expand. But he makes the crucial mistake of complaining that all gains in wealth since 1980 or so have accrued to the 1%.
Reich needs to understand the history of western civilization, and of human psychology. With civilization came hierarchy. While we applaud the development of democracy in Ancient Greece, only 7% of all inhabitants of Athens actually had suffrage; even the founder of democracy limited its practice to the important segments of society. During the Middle Ages, we had lords and peasants. Hereditary aristocracy was a vital part of the Europe which is the forefather of America. And while it is true that Americans rejected hereditary aristocracy, American society and our human psychology require a reverence for the leaders of our society. In early America, they were the landowners; today they are the titans of capitalism, and to a lesser extent small business owners.
The power of and reverence for the middle class is an unsustainable interlude in the inexorable course of history. Reich even admits as much, in a way. In Ponderings on the New Politics of Extremism, he talks about how the American right has its roots in Jeffersonian libertarianism and the Jacksonian alliance of small southern farmers and northern white workers. The Tea Party are their descendants. But even the Tea Party realizes that the fate of the nation rests in the hands of those who have proved themselves worthy, Wall Street and the big banks, and so elect representatives to Congress who maintain the influence of the bankers.
There was a time when the nation was able to honor its middle and working classes. This was the post-World War II era. Of these soldiers, mostly of the American yeomanry and peasantry, President Clinton said in remarks at the U.S. National Cemetery on June 6, 1994 on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, “but let us never forget; when they were young, these men saved the world.”
Today’s soldiers still come from the yeomanry and peasantry, but the time has past when they and their fellows receive the accolades. Perhaps it is the circumstances of the wars they fought in, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, none so noble as “The Great War.” And so it is appropriate that conservatives in Congress cut benefits for America’s soldiers (after all, former soldiers, like the rest of the poor, working and middle class, need to have the opportunity to be proud and productive rather than maintaining the sense of despair which comes from feeding at the trough of the government’s largesse).1 The prosperity of the nation depends on the low tax rates of the job creators; our well-being as a nation depends on it and nothing must come in its way.
Robert Reich fails to understand what it takes to make a great nation. In True Patriotism, he displays his ignorance, complaining about low taxes on the wealthy and cuts to programs that benefit the poor. The prosperity and well-being of the nation depend on a competitive work force, one whose wages are on par with those of workers in countries we compete against. High middle class wages were a historical aberration; in order to be prosperous, today’s economy needs an economic aristocracy we can applaud, which creates jobs for the nations workers which pay a rate competitive with our competition, and ensures profits to the investor class so they have the means to continue investing in America’s greatness.