Premise # 1: It is not easy to understand the economic ups and downs of an economy tied into a burgeoning global economical structure. Regardless of the fact that the American economy has always had a world factor associated with it, we are no longer just selling surplus to available world markets. The fact that so many of our home grown industries such as shoes, clothing, steel, and the automobile industry have departed from our shores while we sat by and did nothing but enjoy the new cheaper prices of the products they sent back has come back to bite us hard. Premise # 2; that was just the beginning.
For those who grew up in the sixties, you may remember the television show, the Twilight Zone. Each week an individual would find himself or herself trapped in a world they had no control over that looked strangely familiar but was not. Americans looking at their economy find themselves in the twilight zone. Wall Street is doing better than ever, so why aren’t there more jobs? Corporations are posting the hugest profits they have ever posted; yet state after state is going broke? Our infrastructure is crumbling, but it cost a billion dollars to build a bridge, and who has that kind of money? We face a crisis of faith at ever turn; not faith in a higher being, but in ourselves.
There are more high school dropouts now than twenty years ago and yet here we are in the age of information, with the Internet and abundance of institutions of higher learning more available than ever. Car companies that make expensive automobiles, most American’s cannot afford are coming because it is cheaper to build them here than abroad? Who could blame us for being a bit depressed about our economic future?
The twenty-four hour news feed isn’t’ helping us either. The constant barrage of negativity spun from some of the news channels hurts us more psychologically than any of us have a full understanding of. To hear some talk, our best days are over and there is nothing left to do but to arm yourself and wait for the massive hordes of starving people to show up at your door and kill you! Really, two hundred years of democracy and the answer is to buy a gun and wait?
In his book, The Post American World, Fareed Zakaria, explains it is not that America has fallen behind as much as the rest of the world is catching up. Catching up because they are using the technology that we created. We sold it to them, and they are now using it and we are the first to cry foul. You can go just about anywhere in Japan and have access to WIFI! Break your arm this weekend and for sure a radiologist in India will read your x-ray. Pull up at a McDonald’s and place an order today and chances are the order will be beamed on a satellite to a call center somewhere in the world and beamed back to the people in the front of the store before it is completed! Accuracy is up thirty percent when this is done!
Truly, to some of us, the Twilight zone! In order to buy products at WalMart that are the cheapest, someone has to make them cheaper. No way around it. Can we be a service industry and really think we cannot keep Pakistan from attacking India? Not if we want call centers for half the world’s global companies to be safe!
The first step any of us need to do in understanding the economy is to take a step back. There is no one cause behind America’s latest job crisis. No one solution or villain to blame it on. Ask your news source what do they gain, when they blame the President and his management skills, or those producing foreign imports? Just understanding there is no one real cause or solution will better equip you to comprehend that the biggest economy in the world also, has some setbacks from time to time.
Where we go from here to address our job crises and our faltering economy will be based on our ability, to get government, private industry and the American workforce to work together. And if we can’ do that, then this recession, sad to say is just beginning!