Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute argues Americans are in denial. Everyone knows, he says, but no one faces up to the fact that the United States can no longer afford to have subsidized unregulated markets, be the world’s global power and provide a steadily rising standard of living. One of these is possible, maybe two, but not all three, according to Faux. No group — and certainly no politician of either party — is addressing this new reality, he contends. Despite public posturing to the contrary, it’s America’s middle class that will be sacrificed on this current path. Please join us for a conversation with Jeff Faux on why he believes we’re moving from a service to a servant economy.

Guests

  • Jeff Faux founding president and distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute.

Transcript

  • 11:06:54

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The middle class, as we have known it, is on the way out. That's according to Jeff Faux, founding president at the Economic Policy Institute. In the new book, he explains why he believes politicians of both parties at the behest of America's elite are systematically destroying economic aspirations and quality of life for America's middle class.

  • 11:07:27

    MS. DIANE REHMHis book is titled "The Servant Economy." Jeff Faux joins me in the studio to talk about America's economy and whether we can revive prospects for middle class Americans. I'm sure many of you will want to join us. Call us on 800-433-8850. Send us your email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning to you, Jeff, it's good to see you.

  • 11:08:03

    MR. JEFF FAUXGood morning, Diane, it's great to be here.

  • 11:08:06

    REHMJeff, tell us what you mean by The Servant Economy. It sounds pretty awful, but I want to understand clearly what you mean.

  • 11:08:19

    FAUXWell, I'm talking about a future for the working American and the working American family. It seems to me that much of the debate about what's going to happen to America is about America's place in the world. Washington is full of discussions about, is the U.S. down? Is China up? And then we look at the economy from a perspective of somewhat abstraction but the question that I ask in the book is not what's going to happen to America in the world, but what's going to happen to Americans, given the evidence that's all around us.

  • 11:09:03

    FAUXAnd by The Servant Economy, I'm talking about a future, another 10 or 15 years towards which we are headed, in which we will see class divisions much deeper than we have today. We will see disappointed young people who are over-educated for the jobs that they're being offered.

  • 11:09:29

    FAUXWe're going to see a low-wage, increasingly low-wage economy, pensions gone, people having to work until they drop and I think that's where we're headed. It sounds like a dystopian nightmare, but if you look at the economic evidence, it's seems to be that's clear.

  • 11:09:51

    FAUXFor example, we know that even before the great crash of 2008, American wages, hourly wages had been flat for 30 years, real wages, that is if you adjust for inflation, flat for 30 years. Now that doesn't mean no one ever got a raise, but it means that someone in 2007, just before the crash, who had two years of college education and a certain amount of experience was getting no more than that person in 1979.

  • 11:10:27

    FAUXSo one question is, then why did things look so good during this period? The shopping malls were crowded, people bought homes, people bought cars, people went on trips and vacations and we know the answer. One was family incomes kept up because more people in the family went to work, typically the wife. That strategy for the middle class is exhausted. There are more women in the labor force now than men.

  • 11:10:56

    FAUXThe second reason why things looked so good was because of cheap available credit. We had a debt economy that's almost a cliché now when we look back. Well, after the crash, that disappeared and that is not coming back for another generation, if at all. So the props to incomes and the props to consumer buying that kept up buying and incomes while wages were flat are now knocked out.

  • 11:11:32

    FAUXSo you don't have to be a PhD economist to understand that when the props are knocked out to wages, we can look into a future where wages will fall and they're falling all over the place now.

  • 11:11:47

    REHMJeff Faux, his new book is titled "The Servant Economy," and the thing that bothers me even more than the title of your book is the subtitle because it is where America's elite is sending the middle class. There is the implication of deliberation, deliberateness about the elite, sending, pushing, shoving, making sure that the middle class stays in that middle.

  • 11:12:34

    FAUXYes, you don't have to accept the vision of people deliberately trying to make the vast majority of Americans miserable. I don't think it's that -- I don't think it's that simple. But I can tell you I was inspired for this book by a book written by the historian Barbara Tuchman back in 1988. It was called "The March of Folly" and it was about 2,000 years of history in which leaders did things.

  • 11:13:06

    FAUX"Folly" was not about stupidity, smart people at the top doing things that essentially were driving their societies, their institutions, their countries over the cliff. Two thousand years of that and that sort of opened my eyes about the way I think about the elites here. I think the important message is that this is not an accident.

  • 11:13:37

    FAUXWhat's going on with the middle class is not something that's an act of God. It's not something that's natural to our history. It's something that is being driven by what I think is an indifference to the governing class. And by the governing class, I mean, Republicans, Democrats and most of all the people who finance them.

  • 11:13:57

    REHMIndifference or greed?

  • 11:13:59

    FAUXWell, greed is a constant. I don't think that Americans are or that the elites are any less greedy than they've ever been. But what we had until the end of the 1970s, until the Reagan era began, what we had were constraints, the constraints from The New Deal. Bosses always have the upper hand. Before The New Deal, it was a fist then it became a hand and we had a social contract that everyone now looks back to with some nostalgia.

  • 11:14:34

    FAUXAnd it's not, like, to get my inspiration, Barbara Tuchman, back into the conversation. It's not like we didn't see it coming. Go back to the 1970s and early 1980s and there's plenty of literature about the weaknesses to the American economy.

  • 11:14:58

    FAUXSo we saw it coming and like Tuchman's foolish politician, did nothing about it. Now we also changed the deal, deregulation, globalization, the diminishment of the bargaining position of working Americans. And I'm not just talking about unions, although the decline of unions is very, very important. But unions or non-unions and one of the things that happened is that as unions weakened, the threat of unionization to firms and managers and employers diminished.

  • 11:15:40

    FAUXAnd as that threat of unionization diminished, the bargaining position of all workers declined so things changed. And it was partly history, but what was where the design is or where the culpability here is, at the top, is that things changed. It was clear things were changing. Instead of looking toward the future and saying, how can we save this middle class standard, which, after all, is the American dream? How can we do that?

  • 11:16:17

    FAUXThey went in the other direction. Opened up, your previous session just talked about -- opened up the economy to the kind of predatory spirit that existed before 1929.

  • 11:16:38

    REHMBehavior that simply said, if I want it, I'll find a way to get it without thinking about the implications going forward.

  • 11:16:50

    FAUXYes, and I think about the not-thinking, about the implications, I think has now pervaded our entire political economy. We all know that Wall Street and the financial sector is now driven by short-term greed. That is, before deregulation what we had was an economy in which the American savings was channeled to banks and then channeled into long-term investment to build businesses et cetera.

  • 11:17:27

    FAUXWith deregulation, what happened was that the future became shorter and shorter. Instead of thinking about, where are the businesses that will provide revenue and employment, Wall Street is mostly interested in revenue, always has been. Where are those businesses that will provide the revenue for the next 10 years or 15 years? It was -- I've bought a bond at $10.15. Where can I sell it at $10.30 in order to make a profit?

  • 11:17:57

    FAUXSo you had a shrinking of the very definition of what economic growth and economic prosperity is.

  • 11:18:03

    REHMYou know, it's interesting because in the early part of the 20th century, you had industrialists who were making the most of the cheap labor who were making the most to build the country in the way they sought and to make huge profits at the same time. Now, it's as though no longer building the country, but simply let's make profit. Short break here in our conversation with Jeff Faux, I'll be right back.

  • 11:20:05

    REHMAnd welcome back. Just before the break, Jeff Faux who is the author of a new book "The Servant Economy," were talking about the early part of the 20th century when you had the great industrialist put money into the economy, not just for the growth of the country, for their own profits as well. It was a dual interest that they had in mind, Jeff. That seems to have gone by the boards.

  • 11:20:42

    FAUXYes. I think -- and I think that the big difference between the elite business community today and the elite business community 100 years ago at the turn of the century was that in those days while there was fierce conflict between labor and management they needed each other. Both knew that capitalists couldn't get along without workers and workers couldn't get along without capitalists. They were stuck in the same country.

  • 11:21:14

    FAUXSo for example, when Henry Ford raised wages of his Ford workers to $5 a day, some of his friends on Wall Street said, Henry, what are you doing? How can you pay these people...

  • 11:21:27

    REHMYou're ruining our economy.

  • 11:21:27

    FAUXYou're ruining us. And Ford says, well, I gotta get the best in here in order to make the cars. But I've also got to pay them so that they could buy the cars. Now that was a very early expression of what later became Keynesian economics. But the notion that we were in this together so in a way that Henry Ford might've understood -- and he was a notorious union buster -- but Henry Ford understood that his company and his wealth and his fortune depended on people out there with enough money in their pocket to buy the goods.

  • 11:22:06

    FAUXNow shift to today. There is almost no major American company that does not consider itself multinational and global. So that before what we learned from long experience, rising wages helped the capitalists as well as workers because it enabled workers to buy their goods.

  • 11:22:35

    REHMOf course.

  • 11:22:35

    FAUXWell, if you're in a global economy in which, you know, there's no real regulation and investors are going around the world searching for cheap labor and governments who are malleable, then it doesn't matter so much what happens to the American middle class if you're the CEO of one of these multinational corporations.

  • 11:23:01

    FAUXNow you may think of yourself as American and I think that probably very few of them deliberately are thinking, well, we're going to make life miserable for the American middle class. But their job now is to make money for themselves and hopefully for their shareholders, from their perspective. But you don't need rising wages in the United States for that.

  • 11:23:24

    REHMMarcy asks, "Who does your guest see as the elite in this discussion?"

  • 11:23:33

    FAUXWell, I think the elite are the -- the political elite are the people who make the decisions for both political parties. But there is a -- I believe there's a class system in the United States. It's not completely rigid. It's got holes in it. People can in and out. But if you take the place where the money comes from, that's the core of the elite. Presidents will come and go now. Congress people will come and go, but the money now dominates everything. And after Citizens United, I think we are -- what -- we were on the verge of a plutocracy and I think we've tipped over .

  • 11:24:26

    FAUXSo it's the people that you see on television and it's the people you don't see on television, the people who put up the money. And then, of course, the apparatus, the lawyers, the lobbyists, the journalists, the academics who also form part of what I call the governing class.

  • 11:24:45

    REHMBut don't forget that members of the senate, I think to a person, are now millionaires.

  • 11:24:56

    FAUXSure.

  • 11:24:56

    REHMAnd it takes that kind of money to get there and they make more going in, staying in and coming out.

  • 11:25:06

    FAUXYes. And the staying in is critical. Campaign contributions are not the only way that money influences politics. It's, you know, where are you going to go after you're a member of congress.

  • 11:25:21

    REHMRight.

  • 11:25:21

    FAUXWould you like to go to Wall Street? It's -- maybe we can get your daughter into a fancy school. It's how would you like to come to this party that I'm giving in Aspen or someplace and network with all these important people. But it's the campaign contributions that keep the politicians in power. And that's what allows them to enjoy these perks.

  • 11:25:44

    REHMAnd here's an email from Michael who says, "The middle class bears a lot of responsibility for this behavior. They are the majority in this country but they continue to vote for people who support the policies that cause these major economic problems. People in the middle should think more about what they are really voting for when they vote against regulation of business, progressive tax policies and a government that attempts to give everyone a fair chance to succeed."

  • 11:26:27

    FAUXWell, I think that's right and I think that we make a mistake in a democracy as he or she says in thinking that the people don't have any responsibility. They do. I think that the reason why people vote against what is their economic interest, there are several. One is what they see as politics when they turn on the television set or go into the internet or read the newspapers is mostly about the horserace. And so you've got two choices, the Democratic horse or the Republic horse. And the info entertainment piece of this is overwhelming. So that's one part.

  • 11:27:17

    FAUXBut there is something I think in the American psychology that is also going on here. If you ask most Americans -- the polls tell us this -- do you think the next generation is going to be worse off than this generation? The majority say yes. So it's not like people are stupid and not like people are not looking around. They know what's happening. But then if you ask a second question, do you think you personally and your kids are going to be better off. The answer is yes.

  • 11:27:56

    REHMInteresting.

  • 11:27:58

    FAUXSo there's this disconnection between my life -- now I'm -- you know, as an American my future as an American and the future of America. Now this is part psychology. I mean, psychologists know that denial is an instrument that we all have about -- in life. But this has now become I think a real problem. And just to get back to the -- a little bit of history, when we saw this coming collectively in the 1970s, there was a group of people -- there was a discussion about America's future. It was around the time of the energy crisis. And clearly the energy crisis was a signal that something was wrong with the way we were -- something was threatening our future.

  • 11:28:52

    REHMStanding in line for hours for gasoline.

  • 11:28:54

    FAUXThat's right. That's right. That's right. And so you had business people, labor people, government people involved in developing the idea of looking ahead now, planning for the future. The word planning was not a dirty political word in those days, people even on Wall Street, industrialists. And the 1970s developed an interest in this. And even before that Nixon and Eisenhower, they were planners. The idea that the government should not concern itself about the future was just, you know, not there.

  • 11:29:36

    REHMBut then came 1980.

  • 11:29:40

    FAUXYes.

  • 11:29:41

    REHMRonald Regan came in with two messages. The first was it's morning in America and the second was government is the problem. And you heard those two messages totally conflicting with each other. Or if you like what he said believing that government was at the core of the problem, so you wanted to get rid of government and create this new house on a shiny hill.

  • 11:30:21

    FAUXThat's right. Well, the two things, as you say, were first optimism. Carter, if you remember, Jimmy -- some of us who remember Jimmy Carter was trying to get the country to focus on the crisis and focus on the future. And while one may criticize his specific programs for energy, clearly if we had gone down that road we would be much further ahead as a country than we are now. But Carter was dismissed as sort of a dower school teacher, schoolmarm. And he was saying things about the future that people felt uncomfortable.

  • 11:31:03

    REHMPeople didn't want to hear.

  • 11:31:05

    FAUXRegan came along and said not to worry about that.

  • 11:31:09

    REHMMorning in America.

  • 11:31:09

    FAUXMorning in America, ripped out Carter's solar panels from the White House. And we have been living on that philosophy ever since.

  • 11:31:21

    REHMHere's another email from Phyllis in Fort Worth, Texas. She says, "Does your guest agree that the middle class became too strong and began to threaten the security and elitism of the wealthier classes? And why are we so willing to continue to worship and defer to this group?"

  • 11:31:51

    FAUXWell, I don't know about them being threatened by the middle class. I think that the -- you have to remember that the elite -- the people on the top change. And it's, I suppose, one of the advantages of the American culture that we have -- at least we used to have more mobility at the top. But we do -- the second part of that question I think is absolutely right. We do defer to elites.

  • 11:32:26

    FAUXAnd, you know, if you are an ordinary citizen trying to pay attention to what's going on in politics but you've got your -- you've got two jobs, you've got a family, you've got all these things in your life, you go to the supermarket and you're standing there waiting for your turn and you see all these magazines about famous people, rich people. There is something in our "democracy" that still leaves us fascinated with people at the top. And that's reinforced politically. You hear liberal politicians saying, oh, we're not against people being multibillionaires and getting as much as they want. Just give a little bit to us.

  • 11:33:17

    FAUXWell, it doesn't work that way. What happens is if you get vast inequalities on the economic side you're going to get vast inequalities on the political side.

  • 11:33:28

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Here's an email from James in Kenmore, Wash. who says, "I'm a financial counselor for a credit union. I see many members who think they're living the good life but who are simply deeply in debt with no hope of ever getting out of debt. But economists, politicians, the media tell us we're living in the best of times. We're healthier, live longer, have more toys. So what are we whining about? So please have your guest address this ironic situation."

  • 11:34:17

    FAUXRight. Well, it's true, we do live longer than we used to. But you have to continually go back in time to make that comparison. Nobody doubts that people today in many ways in the comforts of life are better off than they were 50 years ago. The question is, where are we going? And if you look at the -- if you clearly look at the numbers and you look at the professional projections -- for example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that between 2010 and 2020 of the ten largest and fastest growing occupations in this country, only one requires a college education.

  • 11:35:04

    REHMAnd what is that?

  • 11:35:05

    FAUXAnd that's a category that includes nurses and college professors, both of whose future is somewhat in question these days with the austerity on the public sector side. One other of those categories requires two years of college, eight no college at all and four -- ready for this -- not even a high school degree.

  • 11:35:32

    REHMWow.

  • 11:35:34

    FAUXThe future -- you walk into an Apple store and you think you're looking at the future, and you are, but it's not in the technology. It's in all of those smart college educated kids with the T-shirts on who are working as retail clerks at $12 an hour or so. Now if you talk to them, they will say, well, I'm just here temporarily.

  • 11:36:01

    REHMYeah, right, right.

  • 11:36:02

    FAUXI'm waiting to get back on the professional career track.

  • 11:36:06

    REHMI'm going to become the next Zuckerman.

  • 11:36:10

    FAUXOr even a -- I'm going to be able to get back on a career track where I can raise a family in ten years. Well, look at those projections about the jobs of the future and you realize that many, many of these kids, these 20-something's thinking that they're going to be on a professional track are going to be 30-something's with dead end jobs and 40-something's.

  • 11:36:36

    REHMJeff, that is just an awful projection.

  • 11:36:40

    FAUXYes, it is. It is. And it's a result of us not thinking about the future. And it's the result of us thinking that politics and the way we're governed has very, very little to do with our personal prospects.

  • 11:36:57

    REHMSo are you totally dismal at this point in our history?

  • 11:37:05

    FAUXWell, I'm pretty pessimistic obviously, but when I started to write this book, I decided one thing I wasn't going to do is end it with here are my ten points, here are my six points, here are my eight points. I've written books about that. And when I got to the end I said, well, all right, what is the hope here?

  • 11:37:26

    REHMHold that hope until after we take a short break. I'm talking with Jeff Faux about his new book titled "The Servant Economy." Short break and when we come back, we'll hear his hope.

  • 11:40:01

    REHMAnd just before the break Jeff Faux was about to give us his hope for the future out of his book, "The Servant Economy." So what do you see ahead?

  • 11:40:18

    FAUXWell, the first thing I think is important, another inspiration for me has been a phrase by James Baldwin, the American writer, who said that not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed if it's not faced. So the first thing, it's the reason I wrote this book, is we've got to face what's out there. And most of us understand that it is out there.

  • 11:40:42

    REHMI think we're beginning to.

  • 11:40:43

    FAUXI think so, too. Then the next question is not so much, here are my ten policies.

  • 11:40:50

    REHMRight.

  • 11:40:51

    FAUXI think we know what we need to do. We know we need to invest in infrastructure and research and development and education. We need to create jobs in this country. We need to shrink Wall Street because it has been diverting capitol from long-term investment in the future.

  • 11:41:10

    REHMHow do you shrink Wall Street?

  • 11:41:12

    FAUXWell, one of the things you do is you regulate it very strictly. You tax turnover. You tax short-term investment very heavily so that the guy who buys the bond at 10 and wants to sell it at 10.15 is not gonna make very much money because we're gonna tax it. And so you shift the burden of taxation from speculation, short-term speculation…

  • 11:41:39

    REHMWhich we've been doing a lot of.

  • 11:41:41

    FAUX…to long-term investment.

  • 11:41:43

    REHMRight.

  • 11:41:43

    FAUXSo there's a whole series of things that people have written books about, I've written books about. We know what to do. The question is why don't we do it? Part of which we've already discussed about where people are not voting for their interests and that kind of thing, but it is impossible to get out of this situation without a competent, forward-looking, accountable and strong government.

  • 11:42:11

    REHMAll right. And we'll open the phones now. First to Syracuse, N.Y. Good morning, David.

  • 11:42:21

    DAVIDTo make a comment, you hear a lot from conservatives, particularly, about how you cannot tax or regulate wealthy individuals, corporations and so forth because they're the ones who create jobs. And if they are taxed or whatever they will not create jobs. I've also heard kind of a, you know, looking between the lines of the statement, of an idea along the lines of well, if you have a job it's because some corporation, some wealthy individual made an investment. And therefore, you ought to believe as they do. Do what they say, basically, if you wanna keep your job.

  • 11:43:02

    DAVIDAnd I think this is inculcating a rather servile mentality that ultimately, maybe to exaggerate somewhat, is very like what a futile lord expected from one of his servants or his serfs. I take care of you, therefore you obey me. And I find that very disturbing and, quite frankly, un-American.

  • 11:43:23

    FAUXWell, on your last point, that is exactly why I named this "The Servant Economy." Because I believe that where we're headed is not just a question of salaries and wages and what you can buy in the store, but it's a question of the social relations in America. What I see in front of us is a world -- if we keep going in this direction -- in which we will return to the social relations pre-New Deal on the job. That is when workers had no rights. When the boss might be a nice guy, might not be a nice guy, but had everything.

  • 11:44:09

    FAUXAnd so imagine a life in which you don't have a right to a clean workplace. Imagine a life where the boss wants you to get permission to go to the bathroom on the job. Imagine a life with all those daily kinds of humiliations which are, in my view, the thing that really drove the creation of the labor movement in this country. Yes, wages were important, but it was human dignity. So when we talk about where we're going as an economy it's not just about living standards, it's not just about what you can buy in the store, but it's about human dignity.

  • 11:44:49

    FAUXBecause we all work for a living -- not all of us. But in order to survive, the great majority of us has to work for a living. The best years of our lives are gonna be put on the job. And what I see is exactly what your caller is talking about. You know, we're not gonna go back to the manner system of the Middle Ages, but we're gonna go back if we continue to something like what existed before the New Deal.

  • 11:45:16

    REHMAnd we have an email which says, "Your 11:00 guest has not yet spoken to the question of technology and how productivity has risen in the 21st century. Are we to ignore the fact that many of the jobs performed by people are now done by machines? Should we disconnect all the machines to re-employ our workforce?"

  • 11:45:47

    FAUXNo. We shouldn't do that. The relationship between wages and productivity is very, very important. After World War II and until about 1979 productivity in America went up year after year after year -- worker productivity. Wages went up year after year after year. After 1979 productivity kept going up, wages flattened. So, you know, if you compare the situation with 1940 or 1930, yes, we certainly are doing better in terms of income and wages.

  • 11:46:33

    FAUXBut if you compare them to 1979 we're not, even though worker productivity increased. So the question is not should we stop having productivity, but should we share the benefits of that productivity which we were sharing until 1979, 1980?

  • 11:46:50

    REHMHow do you do that with the technology that's there right now?

  • 11:46:54

    FAUXWell, the first thing you do is you pay people according to their productivity. We're not doing that today. So you might ask, well, if the workers who were productive, that is producing more wealth, and they're not getting paid any more what happened to the money? Well, you can see what happened to the money in the growing inequality of income and wealth in America. So the problem is not jobs. I mean the problem is not of technology taking jobs. The problem is that we don't have a system anymore that will allow the benefits from technology to spread out.

  • 11:47:35

    FAUXFor example, not just in money. I remember back in the 1970s when people were starting to think about the future, which all of which stopped dead after Reagan was elected. And there was a question of okay, why don't we start taking some of the benefits of productivity in a shorter work week? You know, we still have a 40-hour work week from the 1930s. Why shouldn't we start taking that in more leisure time? Why shouldn't that be a national discussion? Productivity's rising every year. The question is where are the benefits going? And since 1979, since 1980 they've been going to the top.

  • 11:48:21

    REHMHere's another email from a young listener. Kristen says, "What would Mr. Faux say to a young American who is considering a move out of the U.S. to somewhere like Norway, Sweden or Canada?"

  • 11:48:43

    FAUXWell, my own view, I mean, I'm an American. I've thought about that question. And…

  • 11:48:48

    REHMI'm sure a lot of people have.

  • 11:48:50

    FAUX…a lot of people -- I don't think there's enough room in Norway for all of the Americans who might wanna go there and enjoy their social system. I think most of us are stuck here in the United States. So the question is what do we do about our own country?

  • 11:49:07

    REHMBut a young person is not stuck here.

  • 11:49:10

    FAUXYes, that's right. That's right. And, you know, you can make a case for immigration. I don't give advice on immigration, but if you're concerned about where…

  • 11:49:26

    REHMThe future.

  • 11:49:27

    FAUXYou're concerned about your future. If you're concerned about having a place in which you're part of a community and what happens to the community is of concern to a democracy, yeah, I mean there are many places in the world -- of course we're always snickering at them. Snickering at Europe and snickering at Norway and Sweden and places like that.

  • 11:49:48

    REHMNo more. No more.

  • 11:49:49

    FAUXAnd you don't have to go that far. You just look at Canada. Canada's not a paradise. Lots of things that are starting to happen in Canada happened here, but they still have a healthcare system that covers everybody.

  • 11:50:03

    REHMHere's an email from R who says, "I am just today 50 years old. I've been fired or laid off four times in my career. However, I've just started two businesses and found other jobs. I always try and work one and a half jobs just because of the modern economy. Lessons learned, education is your ticket, but it's also your responsibility. Number two, unions fix themselves. And number three, politicians do not matter."

  • 11:50:52

    FAUXWell, I would quarrel with the last point. Yes. Obviously, on his first point, education, hard work, having one and a half jobs, having two jobs, now that's a solution. But is that the solution for the majority of people in this country, the so-called richest country in the world? I think that progress means not working more jobs in order to keep a living standard up, but in my view we ought to be looking towards a world in where we can work less. But the last point I think is wrong.

  • 11:51:30

    FAUXPoliticians do matter. And politics do matter. We made a decision back in 1980 to go on a different path than we had before. And that is affecting everyone. People who are out there with disappointed lives and people who are out there with no futures are affected by a decision that was made in Washington then.

  • 11:51:53

    REHMAll right. So we are here. We have the reality we have. Politicians on both sides, politicians of all stripes have good sides and not so good sides. They have visions and not so good visions. You come out sounding very much like a Democrat supporting the vision of Obama who says there has to be more regulation and not like Romney who says the companies are being strangled by regulation. Is that what you're getting at?

  • 11:52:42

    FAUXThe way I see politics today is that the Republicans wanna bring us back to the 19th century, the Democrats are defending the 20th century. Barack Obama, I thought when he was elected, in his inaugural address, said something that was very inspiring. It was a quote from the Bible. He said, and now we must put away childish things. And in the first couple of months of his presidency he talked about building an economy on a rock, not on a sand pile. Well, to my disappointment certainly, three and a half years later we're still on a sand pile.

  • 11:53:21

    FAUXI believe that if there's one thing that we ought to concentrate on it's getting rid of the money in politics.

  • 11:53:30

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go to Sarah, who's in Salt Lake City, Utah. Good morning to you.

  • 11:53:44

    SARAHHi. I'm so excited to talk to you. I'm a huge fan.

  • 11:53:46

    REHMThank you.

  • 11:53:47

    SARAHWe loved seeing you with Doug Fabrizio when you came a few years ago.

  • 11:53:51

    REHMOh, thank you, Sarah.

  • 11:53:53

    SARAHSo I have a master's degree in education, but I'm currently cleaning houses for a living. And I don't mind it, honestly. It's good work and we own our own company so we work for ourselves, but it's not what I pictured when I went to college. I wondered if your guest has seen things like that happening more regularly or if he'd have a comment.

  • 11:54:20

    FAUXYes, Sarah. It's not much consolation, but you're not alone. This is going on all over the country. And it's not like -- there's nothing wrong with cleaning houses. There's nothing wrong with waiting on tables. I was brought up by a single mother who was a waitress. So I have a lot of respect for occupations like that. But you don't have to go to college and end up with a $30,000 debt that you can't pay off in order to get those jobs. The problem with the American labor force right now is not that people don't have enough education.

  • 11:55:03

    FAUXWe don’t have enough jobs that require and can use an education. And that ought to be what our economic policy is about.

  • 11:55:11

    REHMHow do we turn that around? I mean I've got an email here from a bricklayer who says, "How does the decline of the skilled trade fit into your philosophy?"

  • 11:55:26

    FAUXWell, one thing is that when we're not making things here in America we lose a certain kind of skill. And it's not like we're just not making manufacturing goods. We are now also not making services, professional services. Lawyers' jobs are being off-shored, economists' jobs are being off-shored, advertising, market research jobs are being off-shored. So that leaves us with an economy in which personal services are increasingly the only place to get a job. Now, personal services by their very nature have first of all, low productivity and they are low wage and there is something about the dignity of the worker that is vulnerable in a world of personal services.

  • 11:56:23

    FAUXSo how do we get out of this? I think, again, we know. I think what we have is an economic policy that has goals for the future, goals for America that does not leave the economic decisions to CEO's who have no loyalty to the United States. This is not about nationalism. It's simply about what we're gonna do with this economy. And, again, get the money out of politics.

  • 11:56:54

    REHMJeff Faux. And his new book is titled, "The Servant Economy." I have to describe to you on the cover is a gold plated dust pan. What a book. Thanks for being here, Jeff. Good to talk with you.

  • 11:57:17

    FAUXThank you. It's been great.

  • 11:57:17

    REHMAnd thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.

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