A green revolution, windmills, cap and trade, universal health care, cutting dependence on foreign oil, reform in the financial markets – all that may help, but really what is needed more than anything is jobs and the only way to produce large numbers of jobs is to re-industrialize America.
I’ve blogged this before. But it’s kind of maddening to listen to the talking heads argue over whether government stimulus checks and the bank and auto bailouts will do any good and whether health care reform will turn into some kind of super government boondoggle of an entitlement that will bankrupt or re-bankrupt the nation when it takes no degree in economics to see the obvious – large numbers of people need work.
At one time, say right after World War II, this nation was an industrial giant (and technically, of course, it is still a major industrial power) but somewhere along the line the U.S. decided to take a shortcut and let more of the producing of things go elsewhere where the labor was cheaper. Meanwhile it became a so-called service economy, the idea we could provide high tech and financial services and then added to that everyone could live off of real estate value (real estate after all is finite – there’s only so much earth – therefore the price can never go down – wrong).
Society has also spent far too much effort in producing and buying and consuming stuff it may not really need. There seems to be some kind of spiritual (and I am not just talking in the strictly religious sense) bankruptcy afflicting society. Wealth and pretense often seem to trump long-held cultural values revolving around the value of honest work, family, and personal responsibility.
Dare I say that an apt example – maybe not the best – is the fact that all the news channels are broadcasting non-stop eulogies or tributes to Michael Jackson and news updates revolving around the mystery of his premature death and the mystery of his whole life. No offense to the highly talented late self-described King of Pop, but why all the exhaustive coverage? Talent aside, is he the model of cultural hero we want to emulate or see our children and grandchildren emulate? I suppose the coverage is based on measurable public interest – and I guess that pretty much says it all.
I’ve blogged much of this previously, but I read a story quoting GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt calling for a re-emphasis on industrialization in the U.S. He says the U.S. must refocus its economy on manufacturing and exporting if it is to recover from the recession. He even admits that his own company may have outsourced too much and says it now in fact plans to in-source. He said the U.S. has lost its competitive edge.
Personally, while I am 100 percent for environmental or so-called green industry and for anything within reason to cut our dependence on foreign oil. I think the bottom line is that we need to produce products more than import them. Over time and no doubt with government incentives more environmentally sound ways of producing things and obtaining energy will be developed – they have to be. But let’s don’t put the cart before the horse. We have to go back to work first. And the effort to go green all by itself will not produce enough jobs.We need to go to work to earn more green so we can become green.
And as I have blogged previously about health care, the first thing that should be done is simply guarantee that no one goes wanting for it. Those who can pay should (nothing is free, someone has to pay for it) and those who can’t need to be covered. Eligibility requirements will have to be tight to eliminate freeloaders and those who are in effect sent here by other nation’s governments as a subsidy back to them. We may find that the 50 million without health care figure may be sharply reduced once those who could actually afford to take out coverage are forced to and once illegal aliens are removed from the rolls (they should always get actual emergency care, such as the result of automobile accidents – but not regular family care when they are not citizens or legal aliens).
While the U.S. needs a more efficient system of health care there seems to be too much resistance and the effort it takes to fight it may be wasted when, again, simply extending coverage to those who really can’t get it any other way is what will solve the problem for the time.
All the effort to pass health care reform and to force banks to loan money (and they still don’t or can’t) and to prop up failing auto companies could be instead in some way plowed back into the economy more directly, either through reduced taxes and/or incentives to re-industrialize (and we can make other things besides monster cars – although we could make them too).
Come to think of it, why the Republican Party, the opposition, is not pushing wholeheartedly for re-industrialization, I am not sure. At least I don’t think I’ve quite heard them put it that way, although that may be what they mean – don’t really know.