Last spring, the Prospect published an important piece by Jordan Ecker, which pointed to the hyper-geographic concentration of new economic growth and the fact that too much of America was left behind (feeding Trumpism), and asked what policies might spread the growth around. Last week, our friend, the sociologist Arlie Hochschild, pointed the way to one answer.
In a superb piece for The New York Times titled “Silicon Holler,” Hochschild wrote about fledgling efforts to get tech companies to move coding jobs to Kentucky and West Virginia, rather than to Bangalore. These jobs, of course, require trained workers, and she also pointed to some heartening efforts at training.
To make that match, however, requires more than enlightened tech executives. It requires public money. A small grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Hochschild reports, along with Labor Department money, helped subsidize the training.
But here’s the rub. You’d think this would be a natural win for Donald Trump. Bring good jobs back to Appalachia and all that. But Trump is evidently too busy celebrating coal jobs that will never come back, and he proposed to zero out all funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, as well as to make student loans far more expensive.
Yes, the private sector has a major role to play in creating these jobs. But it will take government investment to connect them to trained workers in Appalachia. This is a natural win for the next Democratic president—and an unnatural stretch for the fakery of Trump.