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Full Employment for Blue Collar Men

Originally posted on the Huffington Post

I am reading "Daniel Patrick Moynihan, A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary" edited by Steven Weisman. It is a good title because Moynihan was indeed a visionary. His memorandum to President Johnson on the black family in 1965 said that the disappearance of jobs for blue collar black men was destroying once-stable families. "Men must have jobs," Moynihan said. "We must not rest until every able-bodied Negro male is working." The memo was attacked as racist, but Moynihan was right. Fifty years later, white working class families are breaking down because the kinds of jobs that blue collar white men used to do are scarce as technology replaces people in myriad occupations.

The best if still imperfect solution to this festering economic and social problem is the one Moynihan called for in 1965. "We must not rest until every able-bodied male (of any hue) is working." Self-respect, responsibility for children and partners, confidence in the strengths of American culture and values and in the ability of our political system to solve problems requires this.