Liberals and Manufacturing

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 27 2012 12:00 PM

Liberals and Manufacturing

I don't want to put words into anyone's mouth, but it seems to me that most liberals favor:

— Generous provision of universal health care.
— Increased provision of early childhood and day care.
— Steady or falling class sizes in K-12 schools.
— More people attending or completing college.
— More and better physical infrastructure.
— Organic or more broadly sustainable agriculture.
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For things like that to occur would not only cost money, but someone would actually need to do the work. It requires human beings to do the jobs. You need more health care workers, more education workers, more construction workers, and more farmers. If you want to add "local" angles to the agricultural piece, that also implies more people transporting goods. And most liberals favored those things even in 2007 when mass unemployment was not a problem. This at least suggests that when liberals imagine the future, they're implicitly imagining a future in which we relying on robots and Chinese people to produce a larger share of the country's flow of manufactured goods. There is a tension between this and President Obama's valorization of manufacturing leading the charge toward the creation of an America "built to last." And yet in my dialogues with liberals after the speech, it seems to me that among my acquaintances the more left-wing ones were the most favorably disposed to Obama's emphases.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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