You already knew that Mitt Romney was right about just about everything.
He was right when he called Russia America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” With Moscow occupying sovereign foreign territory in Europe for the first time since 1989, and as American tanks and possibly even nuclear weapons are headed back to the European front, the 1980s called and they clearly got their foreign policy back.
He was right to warn about the expansion of Islamic extremists into formerly obscure places like Northern Mali. Despite being mocked by the unduly self-assured for his insistence that Islamic radicalism in North Africa was a threat to global security, France introduced troops into that country in 2013 at the behest of Mali’s president in order to quell the raging conflict between Islamist insurgents and government forces.
He was right about Detroit. When the Motor City became the biggest metropolis in American history to declare bankruptcy last year, many recalled the headline which The New York Times assigned to a Romney op-ed in which he had recommended that the city’s automobile manufacturers undergo a structured bankruptcy in 2009. “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” the headline read.
But this latest source of vindication for the former Republican presidential nominee may just be the sweetest.
In 2012, Romney was dogged by comments he made to a closed-door meeting of donors. There, the former Massachusetts governor said that 47 percent of the public would never vote for him because they pay no income tax and are more satisfied to support the party which promises them federal assistance in order to ease their financial burden. For these comments he was called callous, cruel, and indifferent to suboptimal conditions faced by the nation’s working poor.
Two years after his defeat, The New York Times has discovered that Mitt Romney had a point.
“Working, in America, is in decline,” The Times reported on Friday. “The share of prime-age men — those 25 to 54 years old — who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent.”
“The United States, which had one of the highest employment rates among developed nations as recently as 2000, has fallen toward the bottom of the list,” the report continued.
Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment.
The resulting absence of millions of potential workers has serious consequences not just for the men and their families but for the nation as a whole. A smaller work force is likely to lead to a slower-growing economy, and will leave a smaller share of the population to cover the cost of government, even as a larger share seeks help.[Emphasis added]
The report goes on to note that many men in their prime earning years “feel less pressure” to find work because they are less likely than past generations to be providing for a family. The New York Times/CBS News polling data which serves as the basis for this report seems, however, to run somewhat counter to this conclusion.
Despite the fact that 64 out of every 100 men aged 25 to 54 who do not work said that they want a job, only 45 say they have looked for work in the last year. 44 say they “Think there are local jobs they could obtain, but they are not willing to take.” 43 claim they are not working because that condition has “been bad for their mental health.” 48 also assert that a physical disability or a major health problem has prevented them from working.
Romney was not alone in being mocked and castigated for expressing concerns over this dangerous condition in America.
“I think this idea that’s been born over last … couple of years that, ‘You know, I really don’t have to work, I don’t really want to do this, I think I’d just rather sit around,’” House Speaker John Boehner said in September. “This is a very sick idea for our country.”
“The Republican Party’s top leader in Congress is catching flak for a comment that appears to call the jobless lazy – a comment that has rekindled an old challenge for the party: appearing insensitive or uncaring toward Americans who are poor or in financial difficulty,” The Christian Science Monitor averred.
Former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, too, was lambasted for his insistence that generational poverty and a lack of incentives to work is a plague on America’s inner cities.
“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” Ryan said, though he later apologized for what he said was an inarticulate attempt to identify a major problem in America’s urban centers.
For this assertion, Ryan was predictably attacked as a racist by those for whom the exertion of any intellectual energy beyond this kneejerk assassination of character is anathema.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said Ryan had issued a “thinly veiled racial attack” because the term “inner city” was, in her mind, a coded phrase meant to convey to listeners that he really meant “black.”
Formerly of Salon, The New Republic’s Brian Beutler said Ryan had issued a “deliberately crafted to appeal to white racists.”
[T]he problems plaguing the inner city aren’t created by culture. They are the indirect result of government policies,” The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart wrote.
“And it’s going to take progressive government policies to solve them,” he inexplicably prescribed.
Ryan later added that problems of poverty and the lack of incentives to seek employment were not limited to America’s cities, but that he was addressing a question which was premised on the problem of poverty in urban America. “The broader point I was trying to make is that we cannot settle for this status quo and that government and families have to do more and rethink our approach to fighting poverty,” the Wisconsin congressman expounded.
The New York Times, apparently, agrees.
Surely, The Times will be lambasted for objectively observing the reality around them because it has the potential to offend sensibilities, right? Harsh and lamentable truths often have the power to hurt feelings, but that does not make them any less persuasive. Good for The Times for having the gumption to publish this important report even though they likely knew it would prompt a backlash among their ideologically simpatico readers. Now, the true test begins: Can The Times resist the inevitable calls for an apology?