Saturday, September 3, 2011

Remember America?

Me neither!
At least not the America with that ‘can do’ spirit; the one that built cities from coast to coast and border to border; and then built an impressive matrix of highways linking every city and town to one another.
The America that landed on the moon less than a decade after declaring it would do so.
When America was cowardly attacked on that December Sunday in 1941 we weren’t told to go out shopping, we mobilized and rebuilt our lost naval forces. Every able bodied citizen signed up to defend the country, with the only draft necessary being the declaration of WAR!
We doubled our efforts to secure our borders and those of our free world partners and we didn’t come back till it was over over there.
Have we made mistakes along the way?
You’re damn straight we did!
But we made those mistakes honestly while trying to do the right thing.
We knew we were one nation, a union of states comprised of large and small municipalities all eager to follow and attain the American Dream; keep it alive for our children and their children and so on and so forth.
There have always been differences of opinions on how to make the country stronger and help our citizens live more productive lives.
So what happened to that experiment called America?
When did our creed turn to greed and our ideals go to seed?
It has always been true that in order to have more than your neighbor he or she must, by definition have less than you.
In the past you earned more by doing a better job or working in a more profitable field. That has, for the most part changed and I’m afraid it has changed forever.
For one thing our own success has made the old America an impossible relic of the past.
We no longer need as many workers to do the same job and many of the jobs we do need are now done overseas.
Things are so bad that some people even long for the job where you ask, "Would you like fries with that?"
Take the book industry as a perfect example.
With the advent of ‘e-books’ people are now carrying the Nook or the Kindle etc. and downloading their favorite read.  And guess where those products are manufactured!
Aside from the tremendous number of jobs forever lost with the disappearance of bookstores nationwide consider the ancillary industries hurt by this unstoppable trend.
Publishing houses, paper manufacturers, delivery companies, the printing industry, ink manufacturers etc. will all lose out in the transition.
Should we stop this from happening?
Of course not.
And even if we wanted to, how?
Technology may be a blessing but it is also a curse. And it’s a curse that we here now rehearse not just in North America but in the entire world. (Credit to Sherman Stone & Peter Edwards, "1776 the musical.")
But I am nowhere near the first person to bemoan the inexorable march forward of technology without intelligent leadership and forethought. This article was printed over a decade ago!
So can we turn that trend around?
First of all it is not a trend, it's the new reality.
No one can fault a business owner who answers only to his stockholders for lowering his costs. And if lowering costs means laying off half his American work force replacing them with bargain basement priced willing workers from what we used to call the third world then so be it!
We will eventually get those jobs back when we are willing to accept less in compensation than our friends in far off foreign lands.
When America is finally considered a third world country we will start to take large chunks out of that pesky unemployment number.
However total salaries will remain tremendously reduced while the profits of the corporations meting out the measly pay will continue to rise.
Government will aid corporations by continuing to lower or remove regulations completely.
As a reward for hiring one or two Americans per year Congress will stop bothering them with pesky rules about polluting the environment or worker safety and maybe even give them more tax breaks.
Although at this point any further tax break will entail that dirty word stimulus since they are already paying no tax as it is!
Today it was announced the President Obama has given in again to Republican whining and taken a huge step backwards on environmental protection.
Banks offer little or no interest to consumers and have little or no interest ion loaning them money either.
Many of the jobs people in this country will be fighting over will be in the service sector as in serving or servicing the wealthy since they will be the only ones with cash.
When the President talks about jobs he must understand that nobody can force businesses to hire more workers than they need.
The time to stop our job loss to foreign shores was twenty years ago.  That was when our leaders eschewed any tariffs on imported goods thus making it profitable to ship the jobs as well as the product away.
In fact they made it even easier if not necessary with forward thinking ‘free trade’ agreements.
In the scheme of things those agreements will end up being a good thing for the world.
But remember what I said earlier, in order for the rest of the world to have more – we must by definition have less!
Spokesmen for businesses use lame excuses like ‘uncertainty about the future’ as reasons not to hire. Yet CEOs continue to distribute obscene profits among themselves and their friends while millions of Americans no longer know whether they will be able to afford food in their old age. I guess the uncertainty of which these hypocrites speak is on the other foot.
The only jobs our government can create would be in the vastly needed arena of infrastructure repair. But even that essential national project will never come to pass as long as our leaders think only of themselves and their next election or how to get the other guy out of office.
Even a speech by the President ABOUT jobs is a bone of contention for the opposition party as they whine that it would conflict with their petty debate amongst themselves to see who they want to replace him.
And sadder still is the fact that our President agreed to move the speech back to wait for his detractors to finish their love/hate fest.
So as you can see historically high unemployment numbers are here to stay.
When and if the economy comes back it will not do so for everyone.
It simply cannot!
There are more unemployed and under-employed Americans than ever before because there are fewer jobs FOR Americans than ever before.
If we continue down the pothole filled road we’re on the top 2% of Americans who are considered extremely wealthy will hold or control over 90% of the country’s money.
At that point the middle class will no longer exist and very few if any Americans will be able to afford what was once considered a comfortable retirement.
Those of us lucky enough to have a job will die with our boots on.
And those of us unlucky in that respect will be ridiculed and reviled by the top 2% overlords of the country as lazy good for nothing drug taking baby making losers.
On the downside for our overlords with the middle class shrinking into obscurity there will be no wallet from which to steal enough money to fund the vast military complex that President Eisenhower spoke about in his farewell speech.
The NY Times alluded to this last December as well.
And without the ability to wage war or protect the country from attack many of the wealthy unpatriotic business owners will take up residence elsewhere, possible closer to their money. 

America will have gone full circle from inconsequential upstart to super power and back again.
Of course this gloom and doom picture I paint does not have to become reality.
Our leaders could stop being idiots and instead ideate.
America can once again use its ingenuity to create new industries.
But in order to do this we must continue to educate our children and give them the best chance to compete in this flat small global economy. And we don’t do that by firing teachers and cutting out Pell Grants and other loans for higher education in order to line the pockets of the filthy rich.
Our leaders will have to start acting LIKE leaders and do the jobs for which they were hired and highly paid!
They will have to talk AND LISTEN to one another and realize we are one nation and we can only survive if we remain indivisible, doing so with liberty and Justice FOR ALL!
Many of you who read this will remember the America I allude to at the beginning of this post but if we do not soon alter our current course your children will not.

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