Friday, November 05, 2010

Tuesday and Paris

When Parisians hit the streets to protest working to age 62, it was noticeable that many of the protestors were young. One young man told the TV interviewer that if this change is allowed, there may be no retirement benefits when he reaches retirement. One would think that the opposite is true.

Traveling and speaking with the occasional European, it's easy to get the impression that when members of the middle class do not expect upward mobility in their lifetime, then a future via welfare state benefits is what is left. And as long as Americans do bet on upward mobility in their lifetime, they have less interest in welfare state benefits.

How to interpret the results of Tuesday's election? The welfare state promises of the 2008 majority were just not that attractive. Benefits via upward mobility is still idea favored by most Americans.

It is fashionable to scoff at upward mobility as a realistic prospect. But what do we know? Immigrants routinely place big bets on the prospect of personal advance via their own efforts. Tuesday's results suggest that a majority of voters feel the same way.