That’s the political clarion call du jour – give us more jobs. And it’s what the economy needs most. But economy is a product of jobs, not the other way ’round.
The theory is that a person can produce more than they need, and will create a surplus. That’s true of some jobs, but some jobs produce nothing. Congress may do a pretty good job of selling their skills for more than they’re worth, but executive jobs produce nothing but paper. And debt.
The post-WWII boom was actually a bubble created with borrowed money. But rising consumerism drove the engine of economy as babies boomed and consumption climbed.
The Boom meant an economy driven by production. From furniture to automobiles, houses to agricultural products, there were plenty of buyers and plenty of jobs. But a dark cloud fell over the economy when imports began taking over the shelf spaces and lots. Not to worry – import duties kept Americans in jobs. But we never seemed to be able to keep that balance of trade working right. There was a glut of ingenious and cheap foreign goods that exceeded what we could export.
The so-named “trade agreements,” such as NAFTA, did more harm than good. For example, Mexican farmers cannot compete with subsidized crops from the U.S., and U.S. workers cannot compete for wages from the Mexicans driven over our borders by the ensuing poverty.
Little by little, the Free Markets (read: licenses to steal) chipped away at any restrictions to foreign products, or protections that might have kept our own manufacturers from setting up shops just across the border or overseas on the Pacific Rim where wages are near nothing and hours are long. No surprise, then, that we have a Rust Belt where our steel industry once was and closed-up buildings where our auto plants used to be. General Motors is making a comeback, so they say, but they use government loans to pay back government loans and their employees are being paid one-half of what their fathers were in the same plants. And half of the vehicles that they produce are being shipped to China. You didn’t think that U.S. citizens could suddenly afford new vehicles again, right?
So, on with the current problem: how to create jobs. One bad theory holds that if the corporations are given tax breaks and incentives they will hire more people, or that if the very rich have to pay little in taxes they will then hire people with that money. The fault in this is that their money isn’t always invested in manufacture and when it is it’s almost always somewhere else.
So we look at public works projects. These are expensive jobs. To offset the expense we must consider that the U.S. infrastructure is in terrible shape and expensive though it is it’s a necessary thing to rebuild bridges, roads, public buildings and so forth. It needs to be done. But prying dollars loose from a bankrupt government isn’t an easy task. A country could be compared to buying a fixer-upper house. You can just keep pumping money into it forever. It may pay back something from the investment in wages but it will just wear out again.
The real basis for a good economy is good jobs at good wages, be they service or manufacturing. And the only way to get both good wages and good jobs is manufacturing – without the myth of the Free Market. Competing against workers in countries who have nothing is not the way to a good economy. We need to remove the protections of Free Markets.
Those protections are not something that protects the U.S. economy or the U.S. worker. They protect the corporations who have been writing the rules and pulling the strings on their government puppets. Why did GE not pay taxes last year though they made $41 Billion in profits? Because most of their operations are not in the continental United States. What did Halliburton do after bilking our government for all those no-bid contracts in Iraq? They moved their headquarters to the United Arab Emirates.
We need protection – those of us who depend upon an economy in our own country. We need import duties, restrictions, and even subsidies. If we want the green industry, such things as wind generators and solar panels, to become prolific then these things should be subsidized, rather than subsidizing killer oil that is currently holding our economy by the throat. We need plans to get these products to end users without punishing contracts or high expense. Yes, we could subsidize that, too.
And the whole high-speed rail thing, and public transport of other kinds. We need those because the automobile is too expensive. There are a number of ways that we can attack our problems of economy. But two parents working two jobs to try to make enough money to keep up on a mortgage on a house that has lost more than half its perceived value is probably not the way to do it. It can be done with protectionism for the worker, not for the bloody corporations.
Bloody? Xe, formerly Blackwater, is currently building a secret security force in the UAE. That should scare somebody. Corporations of any kind are operated as a microcosm. They do not care if they cause global weirding. They do not care if they contribute to war. They joyfully break laws as long as the penalty for being caught is less than the amount they profit.
And I haven’t yet touched on the banks. As long as banks are allowed to create bubbles and then collect the insurance (bailouts) whenever they screw up, the economy cannot be stable. Get your money out of the bank and put it under your mattress. If it’s under your mattress, it may be stolen or it may not. If it’s in the bank you may never see it again. You know that if they can they will find a way to steal it.
And about those bailouts: while the banks are busily paying off the government loans, they aren’t making any loans themselves.