Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fixing the economy. Or not.

On a recent Dan Carlin "Common Sense" podcast (and I cannot help but suspect this latest listening discovery of mine is something that others who are better in-the-know have known about for a while, but such is the way things go; one knows of what one knows of), he talked about the erosion of the American middle class and how he believed in economic nationalism as the way to address that issue.

In a nutshell, that means each country should do what's best for its citizens economically, which he admits is viewed as naïve by those who understand the global economy that we have. It's not that isolationism is what we should do; the American legislature merely should be primarily looking out for America first. And by that what's suggested is doing what it would take to get American employers to pay their employees a wage that allows them to have a middle class lifestyle; having crappy, low-paying jobs that lift people only out of unemployment and into the "working poor" is not going to allow for the continuation of what has come to be seen as the "American way of life."

The problem, he notes, is that those legislators are not inclined to make such decisions because their campaigns are financed by those who want them to allow said contributors' companies to send jobs to other countries where it's better for the stockholders' bottom line.

So, yes, getting politicians out of the pockets of big business and special interests would be a nice way to affect such a change, but I cannot overcome my cynicism quite enough to believe that's going to happen (at least in my lifetime). Where does that leave us, if the legislators aren't going to exert their influence for the economic benefit of the middle and lower classes?

Conceivably we, the public, need to exert our influence by supporting companies that are not exporting jobs. Invest in their stocks, buy their products, etc.. Make it clear that what we want is for a better America for everyone not merely a better stock portfolio for those who actually have money to invest.

Ah, but of course the challenge there: How would we know which companies those are? And the problem there: There's little chance the products of those companies will be as inexpensive as what those factories over in China produce. And with so much already made in China or other overseas countries, how could an American company compete—especially if what is produced here may not (gasp!) be as good?

And if the whole "made in America" mantra didn't inspire us before, what are the odds it will now that it's difficult to be overly enthusiastic about our country?

Presumably the hurdle is that while most people would agree with that sentiment in theory, no one wants to be the one to go first; after a majority have already made such efforts to exert nationalistic economic power and those American-supporting companies are the ones successful enough to be viable and other companies must follow suit to remain competitive, then everyone will be happy to jump on the bandwagon. But in the meantime it's too inconvenient to even find who to support with our dollars (which are already stretched thin, with little to spare on something that might not pan out) to even get the ball rolling.

So if those with the wealth wish to really be "job creators" as the talking points now tout them to be—as they are the ones with the financial wherewithal to get us over such a hurdle—now would be a spiffy time for them to invest in their own country, not merely in the politicians they wish to vote in ways that make their companies seem attractive to an elite, and actually generate jobs that give Americans a decent wage (which in turn leads to more people contributing to the tax base that allows our country to chip away at the debt).

Or we could all just sit back, brush up on our Mandarin, and wait until there isn't enough of a government in place to be bought by the corporate fat cats, and reminisce about how America had a pretty good run for a couple centuries. There's always that option for getting the politicians who won't help the middle class out of office.

(Oh, who am I kidding? After our country descends into class warfare with the rich ensconced in their castles keeping the hordes of poor from getting in, the Chinese won't care about coming to collect what's left.)


  1. I agree - "globalism" and "free trade" really only benefit the people who are shipping jobs out of the country.

  2. Gee, what's wrong with globalism and free trade? Look at how great the Euro Zone is doing! See how the average person is benefiting. It's not like the common citizen is expected to suffer and bail out the super-rich when they screw up.


So, what do you think?