How Can We Ever Dig The USA Out Of This Hole?
Both America’s political parties are working overtime to magnify the divide between the left and the right. It’s good for a political party to have a well defined platform, but it’s downright bad for America for the parties to encourage their voters to hate the other party. We will only be able to fix this mess when we can come together on the causes and the solutions.
It’s not a matter of political parties. It’s not just the left vs the right. It’s not the Republicans vs the Democrats. It’s not even the conservatives vs the liberals. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s not a “us vs them” issue. It’s an issue of all of Americans coming together to fix this mess.
The first step in cleaning up this mess is just like addiction recovery, we must admit that we have a problem and face the causes of this problem. Once we can see the problems, the solutions become clear, even easy.
So, what are the problems and the causes? Obviously the issue first and foremost on everyone’s mind is the abysmal state of the US economy — our jobs or lack thereof. Also way up on the list are issues like our dysfunction government, but this is too vague to address. Let’s really address exactly what is dysfunctional about our government. Many say the unresponsiveness of the government to the people’s needs, or something about how our government seems to be owned by the big businesses and industries. Still others lament about our loss of oversight. How can BP be drilling all those off-shore wells given their proven inability to deal with problems?
Here is my short list of things that have been going wrong with our country:
- Sluggish economy
- Lack of jobs
- Steady decline in wages while productivity sky rockets
- Reduction in workplace safety
- Corporate lobbyists writing the laws that our representatives rubber stamp.
- Lack of a reliable or believable news media
Next we have to look at the causes of each of these issues. One of the best ways to determine the cause is to look at what has changed to cause the problem. After all, these issues are new to America. None of them existed 30, 40, or 50 years ago. What has changed? Let’s look at it.
1. Sluggish economy — I don’t think that anyone can argue that this isn’t the direct result of lack of jobs. No one is really believing that the economy is sluggish because businesses aren’t making enough products. In other words, supply side economics are an obvious farce.
2. Lack of jobs. This is obviously caused by the fact that all our good jobs have been shipped over seas while our “service economy” that the sellers of the “free trade” disaster promised us have gone to minimum wage workers or in many cases, immigrants who are willing to work for even less. Migrant (even illegal immigrant) workers weren’t a serious problem before the 80s. Let’s look at the two issues separately.
The problem with our jobs going over seas is quite simply caused by the free trade deals we’ve entered into. There is no way American workers can compete in free trade with workers willing to work for pennies a day. This, in itself isn’t everything. We are also suffering from companies moving their factories overseas and then sending their products back to America to sell. This only became profitable when we dropped our tariffs from the 20% range to the current 2% range.
As for immigrants taking our “service economy” jobs, it’s just a sad state of affairs that we’re left fighting over service level jobs and fighting with foreigners. What has caused this? We didn’t have this trouble before the 80s. In the 80s we had unions that would act as watch dogs to ensure that Americans weren’t losing their jobs to immigrants. Now there is no one to stop businesses from encouraging illegal immigration.
3. Steady decline in wages while productivity sky rockets. What has happened in the past few decades to cause this drop in wages while the rich reap the benefits of our increased productivity? Before the 80s, wage increases directly tracked productivity increases. Now they don’t. What was different then? For one thing, we had unions. For another, we had higher taxes on the super rich.
4. Reduction in workplace safety. What has caused this? One obvious issue is the lack of unions. Remember the days when unions played an active role in ensuring workplace safety? But there’s more. We used to have a government that had agencies that policed the companies to ensure that we were safe at work. Now we’re shrinking our government to the point where it is no longer able to function to protect us. Of course, even a well funded government is worthless if the agencies are filled with people uninterested in the people. Remember the line, “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie”. All the money in the world wouldn’t make FEMA a functional agency as long as it is managed by the wrong people.
5. Corporate lobbyists writing the laws that our representatives rubber stamp. When Reagan took office there were less than 400 lobbyists. Now there are over 47,000. What has caused this? What is different today than 40 years ago? The cost of our elections! It now takes millions of dollars to run for office. The average American can’t afford this without a generous corporate backer.
6. Lack of a reliable or believable news media. What has changed in our news business in the past 40 years? One obvious change is the extreme consolidation of the industry. We used to stop companies from taking too much control of an industry. Now we just close our eyes to it. When the news media is run by the millionaires, it will only reflect the interests of the wealthy.
Now that we have found some probable causes of the current ills destroying our nation, we can formulate plans to correct them.
1 & 2. Jobs and economy. The problem is simple. stop the free trade nonsense and put our tariffs back in place.
3. Wage decline. Again, reverse the mistakes. Stop the war on unions. Tax the super wealthy. Bring back the 90% top tax rate.
4. Reduction in workplace safety. We have to fund our agencies enough and give them enough power to stand up to the big businesses that are making money off our unsafe working conditions. We also need to be careful to never vote for candidates that say government can do no good. The might just prove themselves right. And, again, unions would only help in this area.
5. Too many lobbyists. The only way I see of turning back the undue influence money has in elections is to demand publicly funded elections.
6. Our broken media. Certainly if we started enforcing our anti-trust laws we could break up the big monster news media corporations and get local interests back to running our news sources. We used to have laws that required news outlets program in the public’s interest. It’s time we brought back those laws.
In conclusion, our problems are not party related, but they certainly are policy related. Don’t fall for the trap of accusing the “other side” for the problems. It’s all our problems and only WE can solve them.