Regardless of one’s politics, it is very clear we are living in an economically challenging, uncompromising, and overall difficult time where our decisions will have a broad impact on the rest of our lives, and those of our children and grandchildren.
Again, absent politics, research is quite clear that a strong income baseline, support for children – and particularly their very early education and development, and stronger education at all levels – both primary and secondary as well as adult re-education and work training programs, are the strongest forces both to maintain a vibrant middle class and propel working class people into the middle class.
The reasons, again, are evidence-based, often self-evident upon deep reflection, and should be non-political. If one has a strong income baseline, they are able to save, which helps build a trampoline to the middle class, and take risks and invest in themselves, which leads to greater success and stronger incomes.
In addition, if they have a base of consistent income support for their children, they are able to spend more time with them, and more money and time on their development, which correlates to lower childhood poverty and better educational outcomes for children. Indeed every country, led by Denmark (at 3% child poverty rate) that has a government child support program has lower childhood poverty rates than the US (at 20%) and better educational performance than the US (which ranks #27 in the global index, below every developed country with a child education program).
These data sets are facts, and should not be politicized, nor should they be directed only to the poor or seen as “poverty programs.” A middle-class family making $80,000 per year can make just as much use of $250/month in government support for the care of a child as a poorer family. Indeed, less than 5% of the families in this country, those making over $200,000/year, would have little use for the money and, in the spirit of national unification, it would probably be best to give it to all Americans.
Last, government programs for education and assisted job creation will be critical in the upcoming years. The US and other developed economies with high living standards will only compete on pure market forces for very high-end jobs, such as engineering and software. More, and better, education, for millions more people, will be needed. But still, of course, this won’t cover all Americans; many of whom cannot or will not be re-educated. For those jobs, which would go to cheaper places in a pure market, government intervention and support will be needed to maintain and grow them.
We cannot let politics dictate the agenda of the future. These times are challenging, but data shows us clearly what paths we need to take. Let’s make sure we go down those roads.