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Marginalizing Lesser-Skilled Workers

August 8, 2020 (390 words)

How to ameliorate the present suffering? Activists will continue to debate the best way of deploying housing subsidies and distributing welfare payments. And whether to continue and even expand existing affirmative action programs. Re-introducing the idea of reparations into the mix is also being floated as a possibility.

(40 acres and a mule would have been a solid step in the right direction after the Civil War. But apparently white America couldn’t muster the political will to follow through on that pledge at the time. Whether some form of equally broad-stroke reparations makes sense now seems like a long shot to me.)

After the recrimination and soul-searching of the present moment subsides, finding our way to any real improvement will require more than just re-arranging the same old deck chairs. It will involve acknowledging a very old problem, one that is only getting worse with each passing year.

There is a dwindling supply of jobs for disadvantaged, marginalized men of both races who possess a lesser degree of cognitive ability, limited education, and a lack of training.

As much as we pride ourselves on America being the land of opportunity, there has never been enough of it to go around. In our survival of the fittest approach to life, the last hired is the first fired. This is another major reason why much of the black workforce has remained on the outside looking in.

While it’s true every European immigrant community had to battle its way into full economic participation, none of those once-looked-down-upon groups started from a baseline of chattel slavery, or found themselves separated from the dominant culture by the color of their skin.

Providing steady, life-sustaining employment for able-bodied citizens of all skill levels should be the primary mission of our entrepreneurial class. Getting the movers and shakers to see things this way has always been a struggle throughout our country’s history. Now, with the way our paper and information economy has evolved over the last fifty or sixty years, ownership’s disdain for working people of all races and creeds is at an all-time high.

Too many of today’s most successful business models assume only a skeleton crew of employees, with everything outsourced. Or, at the other extreme, a burgeoning force of nothing but low-wage workers who never quality for benefits, let alone any sort of pension.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr
August 8, 2020

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