Someday, historians will look at the Presidency of Bill Clinton as an historic milestone for the United States, almost as significant as the Presidency of Ronald Reagen. It was under President Clinton that key decisions were made to leave more than a century of American industrialization behind and to reshape the US as an information and human services economy where most jobs would be far lower paying than they were in the industrial era and where the financial and technology sectors would be the key centers of innovation
To this end, the Clinton Administration pushed for free trade agreements which would accelerate the departure of industrial jobs to Asia and Latin America, while flooding the US with cheap consumer goods. It also pushed for the repeal of the Glass Steagall law, allowing Wall Street banks to develop new financial products such as derivatives which packaged debt into forms which could be easily sold as "safe" investments to pension funds, insurance companies, state and city governments, and nations around the world. These policies marked the death knell of the US Steel and Auto industries, promoted an rapid expansion of investment banks and insurance companies, and gave a huge shot in the arm to chain stores such as Wal-Mart .which distributed the cheap consumer goods produced abroad,
On the domestic front, the Clinton administration pushed through two coercive policies to handle the tens of millions of people displaced by de-industrialization who were less than enthusiastic about accepting the low wage.jobs the new economy was generating. The first was "Welfare Reform" which would force even women with young children to take any available work opportunities no matter what the wage paid; and the second was mass imprisonment of drug offenders. As a result, the prison population catapulted in size and low wage retail and service jobs found a new wave of impoverished applicants who faced cut off of health benefits and food stamps if they failed to seek employment
As I look at the American social and economic landscape today- with its huge concentration of wealth at the top, its swollen prison population and its shrinking middle class, I cannot help but see the influence of Bill Clinton. And while I despise the attacks on immigrants and Muslims launched by some Republican candidates, I cannot generate much enthusiasm for another Clinton Presidency.