Up-by-his-bootstraps investment banker J.D. Vance wants a Republican Party that helps ordinary people achieve their ordinary American dream.
Vance used his May speech at a D.C. event hosted by The American Conservative to make his pitch: “the American dream of my youth … is to become a good dad one day, a good husband, a person who works at a dignified and meaningful job that allows him to put food on the table.”
The author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, continued:
…that way in which if your American dream is to be a good dad or to be a good husband, a good mom or a good wife, that is the American dream that seems to be disappearing even in the wake of a solid economy. Because for the past 20 or 30 years, we’ve had booms and busts, we’ve had recessions and good times in the business cycle, but the very consistent trend is that people in the middle of the country have not done well economically, and more importantly, they haven’t done well socially either.
What do we do about that? My fear and the thing that I want to criticize tonight is that this crisis in the American dream requires a conservative politics. And I don’t mean to be glib when I call it a conservative politics. What I mean to say is that it requires more than a libertarian politics, which is what I think we’ve had in the domestic area of the Right for a very long time.
Movie director Ron Howard is making a movie about Vance’s book and life story. Born in Ohio, he was largely raised by his grandparents because his parents divorced and his mother was disabled by drugs. After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, he earned a law degree at Yale University where he recognized the widening gap between ordinary and elite Americans.
He went to work at a venture capital firm owned by noted libertarian Peter Thiel.
His autobiology earned much praise for its balanced and sympathetic depiction of life outside the college-graduate bubble.
Vance’s speech shows he is facing up to the costs of the federal immigration policy that deliberately inflates the new labor supply at least 25 percent per year. That inflation of the labor supply automatically deflates the wages earned by the women and men who hold on to the American dream Vance wishes to strengthen.
He said in his speech a conservative immigration policy would recognize “the remarkable contributions of American immigration, but does so in a way that maximizes the benefits and the upsides for the American worker.”
Vance also recognized the scale of the immigration, labor, and wage problem when he described the libertarian attitude which is dominant among the GOP’s elite donors and leaders. He said:
There’s a lot of work to be done. I think in broad strokes, there are a few things that that [a better] conservatism will possess. Let me illustrate first, just by telling a story. I had dinner not too long ago in Aspen, Colorado, that headquarters of American conservatism, with a labor leader, not a natural political ally for somebody from the Right, who told me about an off-the-record conversation he had with the CEO of one of America’s largest financial corporations.
And that CEO got very frustrated when the labor leader suggested that American corporations owed something to the American nation. The CEO said, “Well, my shareholders are international, my customers and clients are international, my employees are international. Why do I care about what happens to the American family more than I care about what happens to a family in China or in Europe?”
Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.
But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including roughly one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.
The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.
This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.
This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.