Joe Biden says: “Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class.”
Like so much that comes out of President Biden’s mouth, this is part dishonesty and part stupidity. If you think investment didn’t build this country — and many cases, literally build it — then you are . . . very possibly a doddering old goofus who was never very bright to begin with.
But the claim about unions is worth looking at. Did unions build the middle class?
Consider that before the New Deal, very few Americans belonged to a labor union. The number was around 5 million in the 1920s and declined to about 3 million in the 1930s. And few of those unionized workers were employed in big industrial concerns such as steel or automobiles. They were mostly in craft unions.
Are we to believe that the United States did not have a middle class until 16 decades after the revolution? That is preposterous.
Given how much of the middle class’s wealth takes the form of equity in real estate — along with stocks held in retirement accounts — how central the financial-services industry has been in making that happen, and how few private-sector workers belong to a union, I think Wall Street has a better claim to having built the middle class than the union goons do.
And I’m pretty sure the Vanderbilts have built more infrastructure than the Bidens have.
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