AmericansDavid Brooks

Brooks says the notion that America is in decline is debatable, but it is undergoing changes that are structural, not cyclical. Our best talent is entering the helping or consulting fields, which are less prosperous. Yet there is also a shortage of mechanics and other skilled workers because the middle class saw their way into affluence by leaving the working class trades. And the lower classes are plagued with social breakdown, which results in wasted human capital. Brooks says short-term stimulus is a distraction. The real issue is gentility shift and whether we can address it.

Brooks is a New York Times columnist.

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