What they didn’t say
If you watched the president’s speech and the response, you heard passionate references to America’s entrepreneurial spirit. As Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in the Republican response, politicians see America as a place where, “no challenge is too great and no dream too big.”
But here’s what neither she nor the president acknowledge:
Not every American is like that.
Not every American has the kind of drive that politicians seem to have. Not everybody wants to start a small business or invent a better iPhone.
They’re not lazy. They’re just not that ambitious. Does that mean they don’t get to work at a decent job or start a family?
The Republican response began this way, “The most important moments right now aren’t happening in the Oval Office or in the House Chamber, they’re in your homes – kissing your kids good night, getting ready for tomorrow’s doctor’s visit, or searching for that big job interview.”
She’s right. Some people just want a secure home. They don’t seek fame, great power, or a lot of money. They want a family with bedtime stories, school plays, soccer games in the mud.
But right now, the free market is telling a lot of these people: sorry, your skills aren’t good enough, get new ones. Sorry, there aren’t enough family wage jobs, both of you will have to work, better luck in the next life.
And that’s why higher wages are center stage because a lot of people who know they have a strong work ethic but who see their living standards dropping are sensing that something’s wrong and it’s not them.