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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Aaron Renn Show

Sep 25, 2023 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Aaron Renn Show to discuss Rubio’s Labor Day report on working (and non-working) men. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here.

On protecting American jobs and interests:

“We made a series of economic decisions over the last 30 years grounded in the belief that when it came to the economy and national life, nationhood no longer mattered, that it didn’t matter where the jobs were located or even what industries we had, that efficiency was all that mattered. 

“Look, I believe in free enterprise 100 percent. I despise socialism, because free enterprise is going to give you the most efficient outcome where money should move and where jobs should be and so forth. But what we forgot is that from time to time, the most efficient outcome may not be in the national interest. We completely threw away the national interest argument. 

“It is more efficient to make some of these things in China or India or Vietnam or wherever. But it’s not in our national interest to wipe out entire industries and the jobs that sustain the American middle class, the reliable, dignified, good-paying jobs that didn’t just provide a paycheck, but allowed people to do things like own a home and help build communities and retire with dignity, and gave them the sort of stability. 

“And they could do it without having a college degree or an advanced PhD. That really is at the fundamental core of this. We’ve created an economy where it is virtually impossible [for someone without a degree to succeed] and increasingly impossible for someone who doesn’t [have] the right degree in the right field, living in the right city somewhere in coastal America or some research hub, to earn a living, to have some of the things that were accessible to working Americans just a generation or less ago. 

“That begins to break everything down, because now people don’t get married. Now people see that just your willingness to work hard is not enough. It spins off things like opiate addiction, Rust Belt destruction of entire communities, less children being born, families being broken apart, and all these other pathologies. 

“We’ve got to make sure that the creation of good, stable jobs for people that don’t have advanced degrees is a national interest again and taken into account when we’re balancing out economic decisions.”

On the historically low level of male labor force participation:

“I think there is a sociological component to that happening for some reason, whether it’s a lack of positive, masculine male role models or some other things that might be going on in our culture and society. 

“There’s limits to what we can do in public policy about that … because culture and society is something that has to be taken care of at the community and especially the family level. That’s why you can’t have a successful country if you don’t have strong families and strong communities. Government should be supportive of them, but it certainly can’t replace them. In many cases, when government tries to get involved in family and community, it makes it worse. 

“There is an aspect that has to do with public policy, and that is the aspect that says, if you are able-bodied, you do have an obligation to work, but we also have an obligation to create that work. We can demand that people who are able-bodied work, but we also have to make sure that it’s an economy that’s providing that kind of work. 

“These employment numbers tell you that some job was available somewhere, and the employer couldn’t find someone to take it. What they don’t tell you is, what kind of job are we talking about? Is it a seasonal job? Is it a job that these people have already done 10 times, and every single time they do it, after three months, they get laid off, they get fired. Is it temporary? Are these reliable, stable jobs that allow you to say, I now have enough confidence that I can get married, that I can have kids, that I can buy a home, or that I can invest in and root myself in a community? 

“That has not been part of our economic conversation. It has not been part of the equation. We talk about GDP growth, how the market is doing on any given basis. We talk about all these economic models. But this other stuff isn’t talked about at all. It’s not part of our economic consideration when making these decisions. That has to change.”

On the mutual economic obligations in society:

“There’s this expectation that you should be working. If you’re able to work, you should work. A lot of the people that aren’t will tell you, all the jobs that are available are not good enough, they don’t pay enough, I don’t like the job, I don’t enjoy it, and so forth. But there is an obligation at some point to go out and work. 

“By the same token, I think we have an obligation to have an economy that produces the kind of work that people are enticed to do. There’s a big difference between saying, go work in a service sector where you’re literally flipping from one job to the next every three to four months, and go work somewhere where if you’re willing to put in the time, you can increase your pay and eventually retire with some dignity, and you know that employer is going to be there today, they’re going to be there tomorrow, they’re going to be there 10, 15, 20 years from now. 

“The stability that comes with that allows you to do all these other things and build other things which are so important to the country. Ensuring that is a national interest. That’s been completely devoid, because right now all of the economic conversation is simply from a pure economic market analysis, meaning, what is the most profitable thing that we could have in our economy? Or what is the thing that will lead to the fastest growth in wealth without any consideration for how? What are the opportunities that that’s creating? What are the other factors that are just as important as GDP growth? 

“[GDP growth] is very important, but there are other factors associated with it. Maybe this is a bad example, but you can add 10 pounds of muscle or you can add 10 pounds of fat, and there are two different weight gains. It’s the same with the economy. You can grow, but if that growth is not the kind of growth that also fuels middle-class opportunity for people that aren’t looking to become billionaires, just looking to have the kind of life their grandfather had and their father had, if you’re not doing that, then you’re going to have some real serious problems in your society and see families break down and all these other things that we now see and that we’re being bedeviled by.

“We have a market economy, but the market is a tool to serve the national interest and the common good, not [vice versa]. At the end of the day, our job is to make sure that we have a market economy, because it’s the greatest producer of opportunity in human history, of all the models that have ever been tried. But it has to be a market economy that’s used as a tool to strengthen the country and serve our national interest in the interest of our people, not the other way around, where we’re all bending over backwards and sacrificing the national interest or the common good for our people in order to serve a market outcome. I think we’ve gotten that backwards.”

On the importance and value of “protector” jobs:

“By ‘protectors,’ we’re talking about jobs that many would call first responders, police officers, people in the military, border patrol agents, and so forth. We know about all the strains [those jobs induce] and the things that have been said about it. But if you look at recruitment numbers, particularly in the military, but also in some of these other [fields], they’re really down…. 

“Traditionally, demographically, who were the people that filled these jobs predominantly? Where was the base of the recruits? It came from able-bodied men…. Why are they not going into it [now]? There’s a lot of reasons. 

[For one,] it is hard work. It’s not for everybody. The second [reason] is, the demonization of these professions that we’ve seen over the last few years, particularly in law enforcement, has made people either less willing to be a part of it because they agree with the demonization, or less willing to be a part of it because they don’t want to be demonized…. I’ve [also] had a number of young people say, why would I join the military? Look how they treat their veterans. There are stories about homeless veterans, veterans that are suffering, and the fights they have to have with the VA to prove that their injuries are service-related. When that’s how you treat people that have served you, it doesn’t exactly make you an attractive place. 

“Those jobs are not being protected, and those are important, because those are the roles that in addition to being a source of good, steady work, we have these rules that allow us to function as a society and live with one another, and these are the people that we put out there to protect us and to enforce those rules. We should always make sure that those jobs are adequately resourced and deal with some of the recruiting challenges that we face. We have to value those jobs that are critically important for the future.”