Mike Dorning of Bloomberg has an interesting article on “The Slow Disappearance of the American Working Man.” The statistics set forth in the article are dire. Only 63.5% of American men have jobs, very near the low recorded in 2009, itself the lowest level of male participation in the labor force since these statistics were first kept in 1948. The number of men working in the prime earning years between 25 and 54 is just 81.2%, and the median real wage for men has declined 27% between 1969 and 2009.

The article also notes one of the causes: “Corporations have cut costs by moving manufacturing jobs, routine computer programming, and even simple legal work out of the country.” But the article, like all the presidential candidates, treats this massive outsourcing as a force of nature, akin to the tides, about which nothing can be done. Actually, something can be done about outsourcing, and was done for most of American history. That something was the tariff. And we are not going to see sustained improvement in jobs and wages until we begin to remember what earlier generations of Americans knew about protecting American industry and American jobs.