I am not an economist. I don't even play one on television. Occasionally, I am a dreamer.
We have 46 million people in poverty in this country. Millions are on food stamps. Machines and China are competing for our people's jobs. Without question, the machines and China will win. How do we get out of this mess?
Below is a short, incomplete, and biased assessment of a few solutions proposed by our political parties.
The Greed Over Poverty (G.O.P) Party ;
Firing People = More Jobs Program - Cut funding to as many federal agencies as possible; this will simultaneously reduce costs and the number federal employees. Huh?
Let Em Die Program - Remove and/or destroy as many governmental programs that aid the unemployed, poor, sick and elderly . What?
I Got Mine Program - Disproportionately tax the least able to afford it. The neat thing about this tactic is that it aids in assuring the implementation of the above programs. Wow!
Remove All Regulations Program - Get rid of all regulation thus enabling corporations to hire slaves, and poison the Earth. The resultant corporate wealth would be protected by the I Got Mine Program. Makes sense to me.
Advantages - none to the unemployed - a bonanza to the wealthy and the razor-wire manufacturers
Disadvantages - some uncontained riots and difficulty in breathing the air, plus a few dead polar bears
The Democratic Party:
Extend Unemployment Benefits - extend benefits to the unemployed until benefits run out and then extend again until benefits run out ad infinitum. Warms the heart.
Build Bridges and Roads - hire big burly brutes to build bridges and roads. After completion this imporved infrastructure will employ one toll taker and three guys to fix potholes. But, we wil have great roadways and bridges to use in getting to the unemployment office.
Build Schools and Colleges - hire big burly brutes to build schools which, when completed, will employ many teachers, a few principals and a janitor. These schools will teach students skills that will no longer be needed once they graduate. However, degrees look nice on walls.
Build Clean Energy Projects - big burly brutes will build windmills and install Chinese made solar panels everywhere the wind blows and the sun shines. Once built we will have a cleaner environment, cheaper electric bills, and lots of unemployed burly brutes and a few dozen people cleaning the glass of the solar panels and tending the windmills.
Advantages - All the above programs will generate a plethora of funds that can be spent at Walmart on useless products made in China. We will have good roads for transporting foreign made goods to Walmart. We will have cleaner air for the rich and poor and perhaps less rioting in the near future.
Disadvantages - these are feel good, short term projects and provide little long term future employment
The Impossible Dream Party
Pass a Universal Health Care Bill
Build small hospitals and clinics across the country (perhaps 5000 or so) - big burly brutes would do the building
Staff these health facilities - with 100,000s of unemployed people who will be trained by 1000's of educators to be orderlies, cooks, computer programmers, medical technicians, practical nurses, registered nurses, grief counselors, security personnel, readers of machines that blink and go beep, and any other of the multitude of jobs associated with medical care.
Mandate that all equipment and supplies used in these federal facilities must be made in the USA. This would include sheets, uniforms, thermometers; the machines that go "beep", miles of plastic tubing, drugs, bed pans and all the other stuff we use to help sick people.
Advantages - provides permanent employment for a large segment of our population, provides better healthcare for us all. Caring and maintenance jobs cannot be outsourced. Taxes paid by employed people and the US corporations making supplies and equipment could sustain the program. Escalating costs of Medicare, and Medicaid would be drastically reduced.
Disadvantage - Just a dream
September 13, 2011
The nation's poverty rate rose last year to 15.1 percent, the highest level in 17 years, according to new data from the Census Bureau. The agency's latest poverty report, released Tuesday, shows that 46 million people were poor, and that the median income dropped last year by more than two percent to about $49,445.
The richest country in the world? Yes
The developed, civilized country? No
I visited a friend in the hospital; the place hummed with activity. It had the latest machines that went beep. Fish swam in the beautiful aquarium located in the surgical waiting room, and the doctor’s parking lot was full of BMWs and Land Rovers. But the three cashiers at the parking lot exit where no longer present. They had been replaced by an automated attendant. They were unnecessary.
The genie cannot be put back in the box. My dear readers, jobs ain’t comin’ back! We all know it, but we just won't admit it. President Obama, Congress, the FED can jump up and down, promise the world, but jobs ain’t comin’ back.
I heard recently that China is replacing industrial workers who work for pitiful wages with. machines…their jobs ain’t comin’ back. The construction industry might have been our last gasp. Homebuilding is in actuality a service industry. Workers build on site (it's tough to outsource that to the Far East) using mainly US manufactured concrete, wood, steel, wire, paint and drywall. The workers' old favorite hammers might even have been made in the USA. I know power tools and some materials are now being imported, but home building is on site, and manually delivered as ordered; sounds like a service to me.
So wadda we do? Do we just have 20% unemployment, and the world’s economy slowly grinds to a halt? Do we have more and more have-nots and a few have-everythings ? I don’t know the answers, and regrettably, we are probably on a path of no return. But. being full of myself, I propose some answers:
Unionize everyone (a suggestion stolen from Michael I. Niman , The Humanist Magazine, May-June 2011) - everyone has health benefits, vacation time, living wages, money to spend, guaranteed pensions, and job security.
Create jobs that cannot be done well by machine
Let's hang more wallpaper
Let's build energy efficient abodes for everyone
Let's keep delivering mail on Saturday.
Let's care for the elderly,
Let's go shopping for those who can’t
Let's teach our children to be ethical and moral
Let's provide health care for all
Let's have life guards on beaches
Let's have cops walking the beat
Let's fix the plumbing
Let's walk the dog
Let's get those dents out of the junker
Let's appreciate and purchase handmade crafts
Let's count birds
Let's monitor our water quality
Let's shovel everyone's walk in the winter
Let's shine up the statuary
etc etc etc… you add more
The question is who pays… the answer is the receiver of the service. Where do they get their money? From the person who pays for the human service they provided. Simply put, if we humans provide services for other humana, then humans don’t become unnecessary; they become necessary; and the world goes round, and I can get some necessary relief from the worry I live with.
Lately we are witnessing a disturbing trend around the world. Western economies are in trouble. Financial problems plague most of the “developed world”. Unemployment is high. Energy costs are rising. These problems are not limited to Western societies. There are global problems: food and water shortages, disillusioned populations, social upheaval and deforestation. In my opinion, the underlying roots of the problem are deeper and much more serious than we are led to believe. The problem is our worldwide
Problems that I see with our lifestyle
Food: mono-culture; chemicals; genetically-modified food
Raw materials: open-ended consumption of non-renewable resources; waste - a substantial percentage of products manufactured is simply useless junk, wastefully squandering energy and natural resources.
Unemployment Causes: lack of skills; inferior education; expensive higher education; failing schools make for an unemployable workforce; constant productivity increases, decreasing the need for workers; corporations can do more with less to generate bigger profits; people buy less (general population has less money to spend); in its desire for greater profit, the corporations are dedicated to reduce overhead by laying off employees.