How to fix it? We need a new outlook
As Americans have watched the economy slide, Democrats and Republicans push their respective public relations ploys and ask that the public buy their drugs.
For the Democrats it is essentially a back-to-the-good-old-days call. When the middle class could spend and spend, with endlessly escalating consumption creating jobs and industry in a never-ending cycle of waste and pollution.
However, that promise is now dependent on the false premise that business operates for the good of the economy and will invest in order to aid the country. Business is about making money. The goal is profit, not employment, not nation state welfare. Lowering costs and increasing profits is what business is about. Labor is cheaper in China, Brazil, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, and The Dominican Republic (look at the label) and profits are made by selling stuff made at the lowest possible cost.
With the advent of computers, vast numbers of workers are no longer needed and lower cost labor is available in other countries to provide us with the endless stream of consumer goods that those who do still have jobs endlessly consume.
So the jobs are not coming back. Business and wealth goes for the highest return and it is not here. We can look forward to an increasingly desperate unemployed sector, the hard workers who can no longer support their families.
And what do the Republicans offer?
As the political arm of corporate America, the Republican Party identifies the problem as the United States government and government in general. So the fix is to dismantle government, pull its teeth and let corporate America have a clear field with no regulation and no limits. With the backing of the Tea Party, that threatens even the stability of the corporations, Republicans seek to cripple the only restraining hand on unlimited pollution, price fixing, monopoly, contamination and despotism. The Republicans hope that we will forget when National Guard and army troops were used to suppress labor, when the legal system was under the direction of the corporations and the method of choice for suppressing the rights of labor was brute force. The hope is that we have forgotten that it was the U.S. government that eventually eliminated slavery, protected Americans against corporate thugs, broke up the monopolies, protected the food supply, protected voter rights, created the social security system, ended discrimination in housing, enacted the Clean water act, protected endangered species, created a national park system, the eight hour day, worker safety standards and so much more.
So the Republicans are asking us to put our welfare in the hands of the corporations. Let the insurance industry make the choices about our health care. Let BP decide what are safe drilling standards, let the drug makers decide which drugs are safe, let the automobile industry decide if their products are safe and when and which defects to publicize.
So, what is the solution? We have the human and physical resources to provide for everyone. What we don’t have is a political or economic system that functions to provide meaningful work so that those who are willing can provide for their needs. We are now forced to look at what those needs are and devise a system of social and political organization that is not dependent on ever-increasing consumption and ever increasing corporate profit.
It is time to realize that we are facing a human and social problem that is not solvable by a technological, scientific or economic fix. New tax laws will not solve it, shrinking government will not solve it, fracking will not solve it We all, and that means thoughtful, hopeful, trusting people, need to find within ourselves those unlimited resources and model that will sustain a way of living that shares the bounty of the earth to meet the needs of the people of the earth and that allows the earth to sustain itself. It is a challenge that requires breaking away from blaming others and taking refuge in self-righteousness to find the common ground that we all stand on.
Michael Morse lives in Peterborough.