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The last president who had a plan for protecting American workers from the vicissitudes of the global economy was Richard Nixon, who was in office when foreign steel and foreign cars began seriously competing with domestic products.

The most farsighted politician of his generation, Nixon realized that America’s economic hegemony was coming to an end, and was determined to cushion the decline by a) preventing foreign manufacturers from overrunning our markets and b) teaching Americans to live within their new limits.

I grew up in an automaking town in the 1970s, when it was still possible for a high school graduate -- or even a high school dropout -- to get a job on an assembly line and earn more money than a high school teacher.“I had this student,” my history teacher once told me, “a real chucklehead. Dropped out of school, a year or so later, he came back to see me.

He pointed out the window at a brand-new Camaro and said, ‘That’s my car.’ Meanwhile, I was driving a beat-up station wagon.

Syracuse’s leading vocations are now education and medicine – the training of the young and the preservation of the old.

The strike resulted in a nickel an hour raise and an end to arbitrary firings.I’ve always believed that the ’70s are remembered as the Decade That Taste Forgot because they were a time when people without culture or education had the money to not only indulge their passions, but flaunt them in front of the entire nation.It was an era, to use the title of a 1975 sociological study of a Wisconsin tavern, of blue-collar aristocrats. The recession at the beginning of that decade – America’s first Great Recession – was the beginning of the end for the bourgeois proletariat.The shrinking of the middle class is not a failure of capitalism. Capitalism has been doing exactly what it was designed to do: concentrating wealth in the ownership class, while providing the mass of workers with just enough wages to feed, house and clothe themselves.Young people who graduate from college to .80 an hour jobs as sales clerks or data processors are giving up on the concept of employment as a vehicle for improving their financial fortunes: In a recent survey, 24 percent defined the American dream as “not being in debt.” They’re not trying to get ahead. That’s the natural drift of the relationship between capital and labor, and it can only be arrested by an activist government that chooses to step in as a referee.

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