Over at sister blog The Locker Room, George Leef of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy posted a link to a piece by Nickolas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. George is right; it is a must-read. Eberstadt looks at stats about work effort and labor force in the U.S. over the past six or seven decades. What he finds is disturbing.
Over the past 60 years, the employment ratio for adult men has plummeted by about 20 percentage points. Which is to say: if America’s male employment ratios were back at their Eisenhower-era levels, well over 20 million more men would be at work today. At the moment, roughly 76 million men are counted as working.
Why is this the case, even when factoring in the greater percentage of retirees as we live longer and healthier lives? Eberstadt:
On the demand side, it seems fairly clear that our contemporary economy is just not generating jobs and work as robustly as it did in the past—even the relatively recent past. This can be seen as a “structural” problem. Of course, it is the problem that self-described Keynesians always fix upon. It is part of the overall picture-but just part. For on the supply side, it is apparent that there has been a major behavioral change in America, wherein a growing proportion of working-age Americans are checking out of paid labor altogether. Suffice it to say that not working at all is neither unthinkable nor unaffordable these days, even for adults in the prime of life.
My father taught me that all work is honorable, whether you’re driving a truck, running a company, or harvesting crops. There was a time when American society rightly attached stigma to being a deadbeat who lived off of others. No more. Today, the disability rolls have exploded. A program meant as a hand up to folks unable to support themselves has morphed into just another public assistance program. Then there’s the liberal feminist factor in all this. I can’t same that I blame men for feeling interchangeable, easily replaceable, and unimportant to wives and children. That’s what liberal feminism has drilled into young girls since the 1970s. Evidently, after being told that so many times, some men have accepted it as true.
How terribly sad.