government is not bacteria

October 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

The war on poverty was not the death knell of black men’s wages, neoliberalism and deindustrialization was. It was the death knell of everyone’s wages, in fact, since inflation-adjusted, real wages have stagnated or declined since the 1970s in spite of astronomical gains in productivity and corporate profit.

Government doesn’t “grow” of its own accord because at no time does anyone, not the rich or the poor, want to pay for it. So historically what you see is the expansion of government when times are bad, not when they are good (the New Deal, instance). The political will to expand government is only present when people perceive a personal need for it, but the will to dismantle social programs is omnipresent in any scenario because who wants to pay for somebody else’s benefits if they themselves don’t need them? Welfare was “reformed” in the United States during the 1990s dot com boom, not the 1930s depression or the 1970s recession.  So there is no evidence that government grows like an organism without a check on it, quite the opposite, unless we’re talking about defense spending and pork for politically connected industry.

This is a pretty good example of what I like to call “libertarian folk politics.” What is implicit in the idea that government is an organism that grows without any check on it is the idea that democracy, representative or otherwise, doesn’t work, but instead simply imperils the interests of the “makers,” “job creators,” or whatever. If you want to make an anti-democratic argument, that’s fine, but at least acknowledge it for what it is.

On the issue of women entering STEM, I’m not familiar with the details so maybe I’m wrong here, but women entered the workforce en masse in the 70s and 80s, especially the 80s, right? Most of those women were working class and lower working class and they were entering the workforce to supplement their husband’s stagnant wages, not because Gloria Steinem had ideologically indoctrinated them. They didn’t enter the workforce as high powered scientists and attorneys but as low wage cashiers and housekeepers, hardly the women who would have been willing and able to pursue degrees in STEM or any other advanced field. So since this was the demographic of women entering the workforce, maybe the proportion of women entering STEM would be dwarfed by them statistically making it appear as if women were less likely to enter STEM after the 1980s.

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