David Simon was interviewed by Bill Moyers. Simon is the creator of the television series, The Wire. I am not familiar with it but but Moyers says, “During its five seasons, The Wire held up a mirror to an America many of us never see, where drugs, mayhem, and corruption routinely betray the promise of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ that is so ingrained in our political DNA.”
I was particularly struck by something Simon said during the interview. “We are in an era when you don’t need as much mass labor; we are not a manufacturing base. People who built stuff, their lives had some meaning and value because the factories were open. You don’t need them anymore.”
During the campaign there was so much talk about job creation and getting jobs back. But I didn’t hear anyone then or now suggesting that maybe those jobs are gone. During the industrial revolution jobs were lost every time someone invented a machine that could replace laborers. My neighbor can plow, seed and harvest his whole farm alone with his massive equipment. Jobs were lost when computers came along and could do the work of office workers. As much as I want to see people go to work, I don’t think there are enough jobs in existence for every person who wants to work to find a position. Training people to do the newer, technological jobs is one of the president’s solutions, but such jobs may not be enough. Getting people to produce more stuff just so work is created and then enticing people to buy stuff they don’t need – that is a cycle of lunacy and self-destruction.
It is hard for me to imagine a person running for office suggesting that maybe if we went down to a 30 hour week one new job would be opened for every three workers. It is hard for me to imagine that they might recommend taking longer vacations like the people of Europe do. “Would that mean I would get less pay?” one would ask. Perhaps. It is hard for me to imagine a candidate suggesting people may have to learn to live on less. Jimmy Carter spoke to the American people once, encouraging them to stop spending money irresponsibly and save for their future. He was booted out of office.