Ever since President Trump’s election, a cottage industry of politicians, journalists, scholars and commentators has sought to understand what motivates Trump supporters. Theories have ranged from globalization to a rebellion against Washington elitism to racism. But the true cause may have been overlooked: the “postindustrial society.” It has imposed on the economy a wage structure that systematically generates inequality between the majority of Americans and the upper middle class, roughly defined as the top 20?percent with a threshold income of a bit more than $100,000. We have two new studies that demonstrate this, though neither explicitly uses the term postindustrial society. Consider. From 1960 to 2014, the annual earnings, corrected for inflation, of men who are professionals and business executives rose 70 percent, reports Stephen Rose in a study for Third Way, a slightly left-of-center think tank. By contrast, annual earnings for male factory workers rose only 18 percent over the same period. Not only are low-skilled white men lagging behind the advances of upper-middle-class white men, says Rose, but they may also be surpassed by “many more women and racial minorities” who qualify for managerial and professional jobs that were once off-limits. Since 1960, “the white male working class has exhibited a dramatic fall in status.” Just so, echoes Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution in his new book “Dream Hoarders.” We should not be surprised that 58 percent of whites and 67 percent of whites without a college degree voted for Trump, he says. “Too often the rhetoric of inequality points to a ‘top 1 percent’ problem, as if [all] the ‘bottom’ 99 percent is in a similarly dire situation,” Reeves writes. “This obsession with the upper class allows the upper middle class to convince [itself] we are in the same boat as the rest of America; but it is not true. .?.?. Those of us in the upper middle class are not the victims of growing inequality. We are the beneficiaries.” The coming of the “postindustrial society” was first popularized by Harvard University sociologist Daniel Bell in a 1973 book by the same name. At the time, the US economy was still dominated, symbolically at least, by heavy industry: steel, autos, appliances, aluminum, coal mining and oil production, among others. But Bell showed that the industrial sector was rapidly being overtaken by services – retailing, health care, travel, education, entertainment (including eating out), banking and other services. The consequences of this upheaval would be many, Bell said. The record of scholars – or anyone else – in divining the future is dismal. But Bell is the exception; many of his predictions have actually come to pass. Among them: Services would continue to expand their share of the economic pie. True. They now represent almost two-thirds of the economy, up from about half in the early 1970s. Published in Daily Times, June 26th, 2017.