Rubio’s Soft Corporatism Won’t Help Workers

"It’s remarkable just how much Rubio attributes America’s social problems to the economy. At times, he sounds positively economistic. Rubio draws a straight line, for instance, between economic globalization’s disruptive effects and the breakdown of family life and community throughout much of America. “[W]hen an economy stops providing dignified work for millions of people,” he argues, “families and communities begin to erode.”

The cause and effect logic utilized here is very questionable. Economic transitions—whether from agricultural to industrial economies, or industrial to service economics—always upset existing social patterns and expectations. While everyone generally “wins” over time from these transitions in terms of higher living standards, some people “lose” in the short-term insofar as there is less availability of particular types of jobs. The adjustments are not always easy.

But are we to conclude that such transitions and their effects on America’s labor market are responsible for a “decline in marriage, child-birth, and life expectancy” and an “increase in drug dependency, suicides, and other deaths of despair,” to cite Rubio. High unemployment certainly has negative effects on families and communities. Yet high unemployment levels aren’t the norm in postwar America. Unemployment in America has averaged 5.74 percent from 1948 until today. That suggests other factors have been at work for a long time."