Richard, my very good and highly admired friend, whence comes this? My post, at least, and Paul's, as far as I can tell, were not in response to yours. I am well aware that you advocate no such thing as coerced income redistribution; I wasn't addressing your (legitimate) questions. I was talking about the very real and blatant manipulation of those legitimate concerns by the political opportunists who see this as an avenue to more or less continual power.
There are reasons for the continued downward slide in real income, and I don't propose to get into them all, but I will certainly emphasize one: The very real and debilitating degradation of our system of public education. There are manufacturing jobs out there, good, high-paying, secure jobs, that are going unfilled because not enough graduates have the minimal skill set needed to qualify for them. Today's average high school graduate can't do the relatively simple math needed to do SPC (Statistical Process Control) which is a basic requirement for world-class quality control in a manufuacturing environment. We're not talking about calculus, here; we're talking about basic arithmetic and algebra, stuff you've learned, or should have learned, by ninth grade.
The work ethic has all but disappeared. We had both a manufacturing plant and a large distribution center in a small town in northern Illinois, near the Wisconsin border. This whole area is about as white as you can get; very few Hisp[anics and almost no blacks. Yet our work force in the DC was 75% or more Hispanic. Why? Because our wages were too low? No; these weren't minimum wage jobs and in addition they were upwardly mobile --it wouldn't take long to make a good wage AND have benefits, with no real skills needed, initially. But we couldn't hire, or once hired, keep the white kids from the local schools. Not when they found out that they were actually expected to show up on time, work through the day, and go home only when their shift ended. Some of them lasted no more than a morning. The DC manager told me that the first question from so many of the new hires was, "When can I take my vacation?" or, even worse, "I'll need next Friday off, is that okay?"
So we had Hispanics drive as many as thirty miles to come to work; they showed up every day, on time, and they worked hard. We didn't try to do this; we didn't particularly want to, but we had to.
I could go on, but it's all the same thing: The absurd sense of entitlement that infects today's youth, coupled with the almost universal denigration of education as a requirement for life (watch what the kids watch; Disney, MTV, the reality shows; they ALL mock the very idea of education) ensures that so many young people end up in dead-end jobs at the bottom end of the scale, with few of them lasting more than a few months or a couple of years at most in one job.
No, no welfare mothers here, Richard. And this isn't a thinly veiled attack on the blacks or other minorities: As I said, McHenry County is almost lily-white. But that same disregard for the value of an education --a REAL education, not the phony social promotion that takes place in almost every school district in the country-- is present in almost all communities, black, white, brown or otherwise. And until that changes, and young people accept the (horrific) idea that they must work for their pay and benefits (I need next Friday off, okay, dude?) we'll continue to see this discrepancy.
There are people, and in growing numbers, who really believe that the panacea of income redistribution will end all their troubles. And there are polticians who are more than willing to tell them what they want to hear. That's what I was referring to, and it has little to do with your concerns. So, peace, my friend. There is no conflict here.