THE PARTY SYSTEM - A RATIONALIZATION
(not to be confused with an endorsement)
Another epiphany. Shortly after I awoke this morning, when my mind is usually racing, I had another of those brainstorms for which I go racing to my website to write before my thoughts disappear into the abyss of the meds I take because my cardiologist insists they will make me live longer. This insightful report contradicts just about every assumption that I have made on these pages concerning, inter alia, political parties (click here), the labor movement (click here), the rise of the middle class, and the GNP.
Taken in parts, my previous theories made sense. Utilizing the Scientific Method (A body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge [thank you, Wikipedia]), I sought to examine each and establish a relationship between two important aspects of the American Experience: 1. The effect of political parties on everyday American life, and 2. The rise of the American Middle Class caused by the rise of Organized Labor Unions. To be scientific, "a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning." In the 20th century, a model for scientific method established by the Mathematician, William Whewell (1794 – 1866) was formulated:
1. Use your experience: Consider the problem and try to make sense of it. Look for previous explanations. If this is a new problem to you, then move to step 2.
2. Form a conjecture: When nothing else is yet known, try to state an explanation, to someone else, or to your notebook.
3. Deduce a prediction from that explanation: If you assume 2 is true, what consequences follow?
4. Test: Look for the opposite of each consequence in order to disprove 2. It is a logical error to seek 3 directly as proof of 2. This error is called affirming the consequent.
Seeking the truth, with a strong desire not to repeat Sawyer's Epiphany #1 (click here), and a God-given conscience that says "Don't be Al Gore," I set out a theory concerning political parties and the labor movement, and then set out to disprove my own theories (The Scientific Method, you see). Full disclosure: I thought my theories were correct. As they say in Law: Affirmed in part; Denied in part. (Remanded to you all for further examination). A.I theorized that the rise of the American Middle Class was caused by the rise of Organized Labor Unions. This theory is backed by a lot of Empirical evidence and documented facts (see below).
I WROTE THIS
Dec. 2, 2007 (From SAWYER2008.com): Conservatives, notably Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol, the Wall Street Journal, will justify tax cuts for capital gains on the specious argument that those entrepreneurs who are risking everything to start a new business, are providing new jobs. Capitalism and good old fashion entrepreneurship is what made this country, say they. Not so fast, say I. America has had entrepreneurs for over three centuries. A few lived in stately manors or large prairie ranch houses while most ordinary citizens lived in hovels, rented houses or sod huts. We had "entrepreneurs" during the Great Depression, but most Americans barely scraped by. Until 1945, this country did not have a middle class. After World War II, the American Economy was one of the few left intact. The demand for U.S. goods created a demand for U. S. workers. Previously scorned, labor unions were allowed to organize the workforce, and wages soared. The standard of living for the working class greatly improved. For the first time in our long (entrepreneurial) history, the people who manufactured consumer products actually could afford to own those products. For the first time, an American middle class came into existence. Workers bought cars and built houses away from the core cities. Suburban shopping centers sprang up. Interstate highways populated with motels and fast food restaurants were constructed. People could afford vacations, and weekend homes. Most importantly, ordinary folks, who never dreamed that they could own their own businesses, opened restaurants, started up retail stores, became builders, and sent their kids to college. The new middle class became the new entrepreneurs, only there were a lot more of them. (more about "entrepreneurs and risk takers below)
In my opinion this theory is indisputable. Facts are facts. if anyone disagrees about the origins of the American Middle Class, BRING IT 11 My based my theory on an assumption. Usually a stupid thing - assuming.
I then followed up my "Middle Class Origins" theory with this smarmy scenario:
(January 14, 2008)
Luigi: I filled out the paperwork and I would like a loan from your bank to open an Italian Restaurant.
Bank President: Now, Luigi, you've been a loyal depositor for years. You have a mortgage with us. But we can't make the loan.
Luigi: What? I have $50,000 deposited in your bank, and I've never been late with a house payment, and I've worked in this business for 20 years.
Bank President: You're not economically viable.
(That weekend at the club)
Bank President: Hey Bob, how's your boy Biff doing.
Bob: Well, Reince, he's out of rehab now, and thinking of getting a job or maybe opening a business.
Bank President: Sounds like a plan to me, send Biff by the bank on Tuesday.
Bob: Aww, business has been bad and with the stock market crash, my trust fund is in the toilet.
Bank President: Don't sweat it, Bob. I'll lend Biff Luigi's $50,000. What are friends for?
If Biff defaults? Incorporate; declare banktruptcy. Chris Dodd and Tim Geitner will bail the bank out.
SO MUCH FOR RISK TAKERS.
(any resemblance to anyone living or dead is entirely coincidental)
My conjecture was this: Americans got on for years with very few rich but a whole lot of poor people. After WWII, the rise of Labor Unions created a strong Middle Class of Americans.
Facts proved my conjecture to be accurate.
B.I then deduced a prediction from that explanation. In all honesty, my expectation was that statistics (notably GNP) would show that the rise of the Middle Class would have produced an increase in the GDP. In reality, I ASSUMED that to be the case (tsk tsk).
Two years later, I made an analysis of my hypothesis based on Government data.
In fact, my prediction was wrong (see black chart below).
It appears that America NEVER experienced sharp increases in GDP, but rather enjoyed a history of steady and persistent growth. The obvious conclusion would be that while Labor Unions leveled the playing field, the rise of the middle class did nothing to increase (or decrease) the hard figures we call GDP. In fact the United States experienced its best increase in GDP between 1981 - 2000, when the membership and influence of unions began to decline.
I guess one should not "assume." My bad.
The evidence is in: Middle Class - No Middle Class. The country prospers either way. These days the rich are getting richerg richer ("But they pay 90% of the taxes") while the majority are getting poorer. 8.8% unemployment AND the stock market continues to climb. We all aspire to be wealthy (spare me your denials - trust fund liberal), but are the opportunities being closed by a stacked system ? Should we protect the middle class? On my home page, I rail against the party system - the gravaman of my argument being that political parties put the interests of the party and party members ahead of the interests of the people. On the other hand, what other forum does a political candidate have for getting his ideas to the American People? Political parties at least offer an opportunity to be heard, even if those selected to be heard toe the narrow party line. This, I think, is why so many (all?) of our elected officials are so mediocre. Parties discourage original thinking. The masses of voters have been attuned to the party line; the party line is general and ideological; the party discourages divergence from party doctrine; and this circular thinking gives us mediocre elected officials. And so it goes. Our two major parties certainly have divergent views. Maybe a difference of opinion (even if none is correct) is Democracy's salvation, rather than its downfall. And until something better comes along, Democracy is the best form of government in existence. You Decide.