But our work is not done when too many children live in crumbling neighborhoods, cycling through substandard schools, traumatized by daily violence. Our work is not done when working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate, even as corporate profits soar; when African-American unemployment is still twice as high as white unemployment; when income inequality, on the rise for decades, continues to hold back hardworking communities, especially communities of color. We’ve got unfinished work. And we know what to do. That’s the worst part — we know what to do.
We know we’ve got to invest in infrastructure, and manufacturing, and research and development that creates new jobs. We’ve got to keep rebuilding a middle class economy with ladders of opportunity, so that hard work pays off and you see higher wages and higher incomes, and fair pay for women doing the same work as men, and workplace flexibility for parents in case a child gets sick or a parent needs some help. (Applause.) We’ve got to build more Promise Zones partnerships to support local revitalization of hard-hit communities. We’ve got to keep investing in early education. We want to bring preschool to every four-year-old in this country. (Applause.) And we want every child to have an excellent teacher. And we want to invest in our community colleges and expand Pell Grants for more students. And I’m going to keep working with you to make college more affordable. Because every child in America, no matter who she is, no matter where she’s born, no matter how much money her parents have, ought to be able to fulfill her God-given potential. That’s what we believe.
Mickey Kaus calls it Obama’s biggest piece of B.S., and although there’s a lot of competition for that award, he may be right.
It’s not just Promise Zone partnerships. So-called “fair pay” legislation and increased spending on early education are poll-tested bromides that won’t help. Ensuring that every child has an excellent teacher is actually a great idea, but it will never happen thanks to the power of teacher’s unions and their powerful allies in the Democratic Party (including President Obama).
Of course, working-class Americans would be helped by a reduction in immigration of low-skilled workers from Third World countries. But, as Kaus notes, Obama is pushing in the opposite direction.
The root cause of stagnating wages in the U.S. appears to be increased global competition from places like China and India, where wages are much lower than they are here. American workers, especially white-collar workers, have had a good run for the last 70 years or so. But it’s increasingly clear that something in the labor market is changing — and not for the better.