Monday, January 09, 2012

but who's hiring...

One of the candidates on the campaign trail in Hew Hampshire has persisted in making the claim that Blacks should just get jobs instead of relying on food stamps, but he is making the assumption that there are lots of jobs waiting and this matter of employment is simply a matter of will. Just in case he hadn't noticed, we have a tremendous employment problem in the US. Government employment has been steeply curtailed in order to reduce the budget. Manufacturing, though not as low as it was following the 2008 economic collapse when the American auto industry had to be bailed out is still in the pits compared to what it was before the Bush Republican years. So the idea that poor (of any color) can snap their fingers and get off assistance by accepting some waiting job is absurd.

The idea of the Reagan years was that money in the hands of the rich would trickle down to the poor and lift all boats as that money put people to work, and yet those rich, having little sense of social responsibility to the poor and working class, have not been engaged creatively in the economy to the degree of actually making jobs. The problem lies at least in part in our educational system in which education of the hands and education of the head alone have been isolated from each other and creative hand-work afforded less dignity. The situation allows for a huge number of students to pass through the system without ever understanding the intrinsic value of the goods and services provided for them. The system creates in those students a sense of entitlement and superiority.

In contrast, the idea presented by Educational Sloyd and many others in the early manual arts movement, was that through all students to being engaged in making useful and beautiful things, all would gain a greater sense of their intrinsic value and concurrently develop an appreciation of those who had crafted them. This is not quite the same idea as going to Tiffany's and buying expensive stuff that only a very few Americans can afford.

We have arrived at a time in American culture that was predicted by Mr. Charles B. Gilbert, Superintendent of the Newark, New Jersey Public Schools when he spoke about the danger of sacrificing our democracy on the division between academic work and skilled hand work in the 1905 meeting of the Eastern Manual Training Association:
The great function of all public schools, afterall, is not to give specific knowledge or fit for specific things, but to train democratic citizens. The attitude of the teacher toward manual training has very much to do with the democracy of the teacher. Any sort of separation of children into classes intended to go for all time through their lives is exactly antagonistic to democracy--could not be more directly antagonistic; it is the antipode of democracy... What is the great foe of democracy at all times? It is the building up of walls--permanent walls--between classes; is it not? So long as wealth disappears with a single generation or two generations there is not any great danger; but when we get into the position--condition (If we ever do)--that many of the countries of the world are in; if a child is born with the feeling that he is born in a class--that there is a great gulf or a high wall between him and his neighbor who is born in a different class; then democracy is dead.
Unfortunately American schooling does little to create a sense of the dignity of craftsmanship. But there are answers to be found within. Craftsmanship is the foundation of human culture and of democracy. One cannot be a creative and successful craftsman without being intellectually engaged. One cannot be a craftsman without being true to particular values that uplift the community in which craftsmanship is nurtured and takes place. Unlike American politicians who spew small lies and exaggerations right and left with every breath, a craftsman must be true to his materials, his design and to himself.

It is truly time to take matters into our own hands.

Make, fix and create...

14 comments:

Bill Baar said...

Trickle down was a theory first used by the comedian Will Rogers to describe Herbert Hoover's relief efforts.

Arthur Laffer's supply side policies were not trickle down. Quite the opposite, if the government reduced what it took in taxes, that money would remain in the hands of investors and consumers and spark economic growth (this despite and short term deficit-which ballooned under Reagan). In effect, money would trickle up logarithmicly with a multiplier effect.

Current GOP plan is really to remove structural obstacles to what's really a investment driven (capital on strike) rather than consumption driven recession. This is seen best in things like Herman Cain's or Paul Ryan's calls for tax reform which would remove the uncertainty about the future for investors.

A return to vocational education would be very helpful. The best way to get there is going to be vouchers. The current education lobby won't stand for wide scale vocational education.

Doug Stowe said...

I think it was ironic for Reagan to take the trickle down idea which had been Will Rogers idea and then turn it to what he saw as a good idea, but one that turned out to be a rather shabby joke on the American people.

I can't see how you can get from vouchers to the idea of manual arts in schools. I can't see how they have anything to do with each other.

And I certainly would not agree that Herman Cain or Paul Ryan are on the right track. We know Gingrich invested his windfall from the last gasps of our failing economy at Tiffany's. The idea that small businesses are waiting for further deregulation or greater tax cuts has been proven to be false. They are waiting for the economy to get better and that is held up by a poor employment and the housing collapse.

I think you said it right that money would "remain in the hands of investors." They have more money now than ever before and choose not to do anything about it because they tend to have too few ideas about how to invest creatively.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stowe,
Thank you for writing this - it can't be said enough. I'm a fan of your books, vids, and now your blog.
Regards,
Brian Smith

Anonymous said...

Doug,

Your last paragraph reads:

Unlike American politicians who spew small lies and exaggerations right and left with every breath, a craftsman must be true to his materials, his design and to himself.

In relation to that, the following has been attributed to JFK.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived, and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.


Gene

Bill Baar said...

Well, "Trickle Down" hardly a conservative economic doctrine. It was a joke, made by a humorist, about President Hoover's releif efforts during the depression.

If one wants to begin discerning some truty, it's best to engage tangible economic policies laid forth such as Rep Ryans budget plan, or President Obama's Bi Partisan Bowles Simpson plan (or in the case of Medicare and Health Reform, the bi partisan Wyden-Ryan Medicare Reform plan.

No conservative has ever advocated anything along the lines of "trickle down". It's engaging a strawman argument that was really a comedian's joke instead of the plans noted above prepared by policy-craftsman.

A good Carpenter sees through this.

Bill Baar said...

Well, "Trickle Down" hardly a conservative economic doctrine. It was a joke, made by a humorist, about President Hoover's releif efforts during the depression.

If one wants to begin discerning some truty, it's best to engage tangible economic policies laid forth such as Rep Ryans budget plan, or President Obama's Bi Partisan Bowles Simpson plan (or in the case of Medicare and Health Reform, the bi partisan Wyden-Ryan Medicare Reform plan.

No conservative has ever advocated anything along the lines of "trickle down". It's engaging a strawman argument that was really a comedian's joke instead of the plans noted above prepared by policy-craftsman.

A good Carpenter sees through this.

Doug Stowe said...

Bill I agree that Trickle down is a joke,(not a very funny one) but it is a concept that was discussed as reasonable during the Reagan Administration and long after. Just do a search on trickle down economics and see what come up. As you point out, I didn't make it up. But it was long used as acceptable terminology by those who advocated for smaller government and fewer government services.

Your last point is that if I don't agree with you then I must not be a good carpenter. Interesting point.

Bill Baar said...

A craftsman deals with real tools and materials. I can't judge your carpentray but I don't believe your engaging the real policy issues as put forward by conservatives, thirty years ago, or now.

"Trickle Down" has always been used by the left including myself thirty years ago to describe conservative economics. Reagan himself though, as did David Stockman, and Art Laffer talked of supply side economics. Deficits be damned, they were going to reduce the burden of government from taxes and regulation as a spur to economic growth. Growth would raise all boats so to speak, but that's far different than trickle down. Trickls down, as Will Rogers explained it was the rich letting little tidbits fall down to the poor. Conservative economics says investors don't trickle much of anything. Provide them with demand and decent returns, they'll invest, create jobs, create wealth, and the collective will be the better for it.

That was thirty years ago.

Today's conservatives far more concerned with deficits than Reagan ever was. The faith is still in growth, but I suggest a good read of Paul Ryan's budget plan. Ryan's talking of structural changes that need to be made to the economy in light of globalization and demographics. Changes that will promote growth.

Ryans Plan, Bowles Simpson, The Wyden Ryan medicare reform plan, all solid work, available with no effort on the internet. Two out the three bipartisan efforts.

All dealing with the US and the worlds future: not thirty years ago, not sixty years ago. We're simply in a far different kind of economy in terms of scale and velocity.

We need workmen like consideration of that future.

Doug Stowe said...

Bill I can see that you are an enthusiast for the Paul Ryan plan, but I see him as just one more out of touch conservative. while I may edge toward the political sometimes in the blog, the real purpose here is not political but rather, how to get the hands better engaged in learning, and the serious reasons for it. Whether you are left leaning or right, I think we can agree that the political system is out of touch with the real needs of the American people.

It is interesting that as we went through eight years of tax cuts and deregulation in the Bush years, four years of investment by government in saving the auto industry and repairing infrastructure has lead to the first increases in manufacturing employment in over 12 years. Conservatives would never give Obama credit for doing anything right, but I see a renewal of American manufacturing as being a very good thing. With that, you can go ahead and push your line of conservative thinking as much as you want, but I will be talking about the hands and what we can learn from them, including carpentry.

very best,

Doug

Doug Stowe said...

Bill you got me interested anyway. Here is a quote that might put things in perspective.

"It's kind of hard to sell 'trickle down,' so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really 'trickle down.' Supply-side is 'trickle-down' theory."[8] ”

—David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director

Galbraith had said that trickle down had been tried before as the horse and sparrow theory. If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through for the sparrows.

David said...

Our post industrial revolution world has created a gapping disconect between modern man and the material culture that supports his life.
Disembodied and decontextualized knowledge have replaced informal models of apprenticship and self aquisition of knowledge.
A proffessor of mine - Dr. Zvi Beckerman - often reffers to the word: Understand. Knowledge in the modern world is aquired by STANDING UNDER the holders of knowledge and not by self discovery.

In short - I totally agree.
I am dedicated to informal education and hands on learning...www.sichabasadeh.com
Planning to add a mobile woodshop to my programs...

David

Bill Baar said...

@Doug, Right one of the comments from the famous Atlantic article on the "Education of David Stockmen" that got him famously taken behind the woodshed by the Prez. "Trickle Down" was a derisive characterization of the policy, by a guy who was adamantly opposed to supply side. He wasn't the only GOPer to feel that way. Many if not most did then.

George Bush senior called Supply Side "Voodoo Economics" too. Opposition to Reagan tax cuts wasn't just a liberal thing. George Bush, and Stockman opposed; George Will wrote endlessly about America as under taxed.

I remember seeing German Chancellor Gerhard Schmitt speak at a Chicago Council of Foreign Relations say Reagan and America would take down Capitalist Economies with the resulting American Deficit. Stockman wrote a book to that effect in 85 after he left the administration.

It didn't happen. Instead we got a near quarter century of increased growth, productivity, and creation of wealth. Wealth didn't trickle down. Americans invested and whole new industries emerged, new methods of delivery, and a whole globalized economy.

Liberals may rail against the distribution of the resulting new wealth, and who earned some, and who earned a lot; but nothing trickled down to anyone.

Trickle Down's been a pejorative coined by Will Rogers about Hoover's record Tax hike in 1932 in the face of the depression, and again in this example on Reagan's tax cut in the face of stagflation and deficits. Cut or hike, the policy doesn't matter, it's just a loaded term to taint the case before it's even been argued.

That's history though. Today's problems are structural issues with entitlements. Tax hikes won't pay for them. Tax cuts aren't going to create growth to pay for them. Ryan, Bowles-Simpson, Wyden-Ryan all offer plans to restructure key programs. To label these plans (and there the only ones on the table at the moment unless we include President Obama's last budget defeated in the Senate 97-0 w/o a single Democratic vote).

To slap trickle-down on these plans w/o taking into account what there about, a dis service. The problems facing Americans very real and these plans over some good solutions which if implemented soon, could avoid some real pain in the future.

Doug Stowe said...

Bill, to call social security and social safety net programs "entitlements" is also a misnomer. The real sense of "entitlement" is among those who think of money before the needs of community. Thanks for the conversation. I saw early on that we will not come eye to eye on politics, but perhaps we do agree that the hands need to be engaged rather than ideology in the solution of our national dilemma.

Bill Baar said...

Just briefly re: entitlement. I started working for Social Security in 1976 and we made a point of calling these programs entitlements because people earned the benefit through payroll taxes. Social Security Benefits weren't federal welfare, but entitlements one earned. FDR intended it that way, and we were trained at least as of 72 to think that way.

We had accounts for people who refused to accept their payments because they thought it was socialistic, or welfare, or whatever.

Non entitlement programs were plain transfer programs.

I don't we disagree on all that much really once we wade through labels and rhetoric. Work and production are noble efforts and not just good for the common good, but good for the individual soul and our sense of self worth. To not work is degrading.

Anyways, I also enjoyed the exchange here.