Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio used the Labor Day holiday to tease a new report his office is set to issue about the plight of men in the workforce and American society.
In an opinion article published by Fox News on Monday, Rubio argued that Labor Day offered an opportunity to take stock of how American workers are doing.
When it comes to men, they are staggering and directionless under the weight of five significant factors that must be addressed by policymakers, according to Rubio.
They include: deindustrialization, open borders, corrosive welfare programs, changes in education and recent revolutions in American culture and technology.
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Rubio said more details would be forthcoming in a report his office will issue this week called “The State of the Working (And Non-Working) Man.”
The report, he added, “details the problems men face in their vital role as providers.”
“Unfortunately, the evidence is clear that working-aged men are not doing well at all. Across the board, they are suffering a generational decline in quality jobs and falling out of the labor force in staggering numbers. These problems have grim consequences, not just for men, but for women, children and our nation as a whole,” the senator wrote.
Rubio noted that many may ask if this is possible, since the official line is that national unemployment is near a record low. But the problem, he said, “is hidden out of sight, driven by a slow erosion of workers’ earning power and participation in the labor force.”
Citing a report by the think tank American Compass, Rubio wrote that in 1985 the median American man could pay for the basics of a middle-class lifestyle –– food, housing, health care, transportation and education –– for a family of four people with 40 weeks of income.
By 2022, it now takes the same man 62 weeks of income to achieve that.
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“But of course, there are no more weeks in the year today than there were 40 years ago. In other words, millions of men — predominantly blue-collar and less-educated men — can no longer provide a middle-class life for their families,” he wrote.
Rubio added that millions of men have simply “defected” from the labor force entirely and “spend their days in idleness.” That includes as many as 7 million men “missing” from the workforce and 10 million overall without work.
“Great Depression levels of non-work for American men are leading to social breakdown all around us,” he continued. He pointed out that 80% of the 49,000 suicides recorded last year were men.
“Addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling and video games are also on the rise. The individual stories are devastating, as are their impacts on families and local communities. Altogether, they spell serious trouble for America,” Rubio argued.
One reason is the lack of available positive role models, especially fathers in the home, who are there to teach the values and importance of hard work and perseverance.
“To make matters worse, it often seems the only thing policymakers and the media have for men is criticism, as though they are the source of all our problems, and those who are suffering have nothing to blame but themselves,” Rubio wrote.
“What is the root cause of men’s present woes? There is no single culprit behind the carnage, but our report identifies five factors that are particularly worthy of attention: deindustrialization, open borders, corrosive welfare programs, changes in education and recent revolutions in American culture and technology.”
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“We must respond to these factors head-on.”
As one example, the senator noted that policymakers must decouple vital industries from Communist China and bring the “heavily male” manufacturing jobs back to America.
Policies must also clamp down on illegal and low-skilled immigration that has depressed the wages of American men that official Washington claims are unable to compete.
Washington also must advocate a “work-first approach” to safety net programs –– not as punishment to those down on their luck, but to “spur them to better themselves and send a message that in America, able-bodied men are expected to work.”
Policymakers can also end the broken “college-for-all” pipeline and reroute job funding to technical training and apprenticeships — “which will help boys and men because they are generally more equipped than girls and women to work with their hands.”
Each year, he noted, the federal government spends about $175 billion on higher education, yet only $20 billion on employment and training programs.
“This is an unfair arrangement that puts boys –– and the working class generally –– at a dramatic disadvantage. It needs to change,” Rubio argued.
Finally, he added, Washington must adopt policies that encourage marriage and involved parenting by increasing the child tax credit for working families, eliminating marriage penalties, and increasing the benefits available to single-earner married households.
“As the statistics bear out,” he wrote, “the chance of finding happiness is far higher inside the family than outside it.”
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“Our nation is in desperate need of policy solutions. Solving the downward spiral of men’s well-being and workforce participation, however, will take more than government in the end. It will take a reorientation of our economy, culture and politics to serve the common good of men, women, and children alike,” wrote Rubio.
“If this sounds like an ambitious task, that is because it is. But it is also the only way for our nation to escape decline.”
To combat communist China, he maintained, “We will need good men with dignified work, stable families and strong communities.”
“The problems described in our report took generations to manifest,” he concluded.
“To have any hope of success, our response must be multigenerational in turn. We’d better get started, so that we will have better news to celebrate on Labor Days to come.”
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