Warner and Labor

WARNER AND LABOR….Labor blogger Nathan Newman provides an excellent reason for thinking that Mark Warner’s YearlyKos bash was a good idea:

I give a thumbs up to the big party bash; no question Warner got his money’s worth; and better it went to union hotel workers to deliver chocolate fountains to weary bloggers than to ten or twenty seconds of a random ad buy.

That’s about the best argument I’ve heard yet in either direction, so consider me sold. On Warner himself, though, Nathan is still agnostic:

But let me return to his argument about bringing jobs to rural Virginia. He painted a nice story about education and retraining leading to software jobs springing up in rural towns, especially if supported by strong investments in broadband locally.

All to the good as far as it goes. But the story hides one of the big lies of DLCish economic policy, which is that the key to improving wages is just more education and more training. While that’s ONE good thing to do, the hard reality is that a large portion of new job creation in the future will not be high-tech jobs but traditional service jobs. Warner had essentially NOTHING in his speech about how to raise wages for those in traditional service or remaining manufacturing jobs, no mention of the minimum wage or other policies to help the workers who will make up the vast bulk of new jobs.

….For most Americans, it’s the wage standards in these basic non-tech jobs that will matter for the future of the middle class, not a few high-profile software jobs recruited to a few towns.

Agreed. Education is important, and centrist wonks are right to emphasize it. At the same time, it’s just a plain fact that a huge number of jobs are basically unskilled or semiskilled, and we need to address the question of what happens to the people who fill them. Education really won’t help here, and if we leave things entirely up to the market, these jobs will all pay Wal-Mart wages. That’s convenient for all us middle class types who want cheap gardeners and retail clerks, but not so good for all the gardeners and retail clerks.