Monday, February 13, 2012

Supply-Side Sociology

We all know how well supply-side economics worked out. The Supply Siders told us that reducing barriers for producers--taxes and government regulation--would result in economic prosperity. What we got was the housing bubble, the Great Recession, a jobless recovery, massive deficits, a growing gap between rich and poor, and the disappearance of the middle class.

As if that wasn't enough, the Supply Siders are now complaining about the burgeoning lower class (see, for example, Charles Murray's new book Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010). According to Murray, people in the lower class don't spend enough time working, are unwilling to marry, and neglect their kids.

Supply Siders listen up! Maybe you applied your theory to the wrong field. It didn't work in economics, but it might just work in sociology. Supply-side sociology can solve the problem of the growing lower class. Here's the way it works: reduce the barriers to the middle class and watch the lower class shrink as stable jobs that pay a living wage transform their lives. Just think, marriage might make sense if lower class men had steady paychecks. Children might not fall behind if struggling parents were not expected to assume the duties of the public education system. College admissions would be more egalitarian if getting into college no longer depended on the leisure time and flexible schedules of the middle class as it runs the extracurricular marathon. Lower class men and women would uncover hidden talents if a college degree were no longer a requirement for most jobs. And while we're knocking down these barriers, let's remove two other onerous requirements for middle class life: owning a car and finding a job with health insurance.

Supply Siders unite! The time has come to tear down these walls:
  • Eliminate the college diploma as the gatekeeper to jobs that do not require specialized skills.
  • Remove parents from the equation for academic success, including homework helper, project manager, and tutor.
  • Ban extracurricular activities as a factor in college admissions, neutralizing the powerful influence of soccer moms on college acceptance.
  • Mandate access to efficient public transportation, freeing workers from the need to own (and maintain) a car to get to and from a job. 
  • Guarantee universal health insurance, providing the lower class with access to basic health care and sheltering them from ruinous medical bills.
By removing these barriers to middle class life, the lower class will supply the middle class with eager workers, confident parents, and stable families. Civic culture will be restored. The Supply Siders can then bask in the knowledge that, at last, their theory worked--in sociology.

No comments: