I seldom venture into the local Wal-Mart store, but yesterday was an exception. Sent to find freezer storage bags unavailable elsewhere, I walked by the clothing section and checked out prices. I was shocked how cheap goods can be had. A nice shirt for $7. Sounds good, no?
Perhaps, unless you’re the poor SOB making that $7 shirt.
Or the local business that wants to manufacture shirts and has to compete with this obscene price.
I hear people say excessive governmental debt is no problem. In the next breath they say we need to create new jobs. Then they say we need unions for fair wages, safe and clean working conditions. And, we need to produce goods in an environmentally acceptable fashion.
We do not live in a vacuum.
When we create new money without also creating more underlying real wealth, we dilute the value of our currency relative to the currencies of the rest of the world. We have gotten away with this for a couple of reasons: first, the notion that oil must be traded worldwide in dollars and only in dollars, and second, a belligerent and powerful military combined with a propensity to punish those that don’t adhere to notion number one.
We all, whether we admit it or not, enjoy an advantage created from the spoils of war.
This unnatural and unfair value applied to the US dollar allows us to buy foreign goods cheaper than we can produce them. Multinational corporations, often bearing names that sound quite American, offshore manufacturing jobs to get away from minimum wage requirements, environmental concerns and safe working conditions.
In essence, the stuff you find in your local Wal-Mart and for that matter nearly any other store or outlet where you shop is made by slaves toiling in unsafe and miserable conditions, while trashing the planet in the process. And we kill those that resist the plan, directly and by proxy.
The result is what you see all around you.
We are not alone. European nations have also long used similar exploitation to live at higher standards than the rest of the world. The European Union is largely a response to losses in power and prestige to the United States and our model of exploitation since World War II.
They and we expect a higher standard of living without questioning where and how real goods and services required to maintain that standard are acquired.
I say there are consequences that come with stolen goods. Call it karma. Reaping what you sow. The law of reciprocity.
There is no free ride.
So, how do we fix this mess? This late in the game, I don’t honestly know, but if someone made me king, I can tell you how I’d start.
First, bring home our troops. All of them.
Second. Institute standards and a certification process for any goods imported into this country in large scale, including minimum wages, environmental standards, and safe and clean conditions for workers in foreign countries. Any non-certified goods should be subject to severe tariffs. You employ slaves; you cannot sell goods in this country, or we will tax the living shit out of you (creating revenue in the process).
Don’t give free money to able-bodied citizens; instead provide employment through projects that raise the common wealth of the country.
Change tactics in the so-called War on Drugs; treat addicts as sick people instead of as criminals; legalize marijuana and dilute forms of drugs created from natural opiates and stimulants; offer the hard stuff to addicts in controlled environments for those wishing to break or effectively control their addiction….
Thereby greatly reducing the population of our prisons; shorter more intense sentences should be employed for anyone considered rehabilitatable (my computer says this isn’t a word. It should be).
Go after fraudsters, allow too-big-to-fails to fail and redistribute resulting assets through auction. Real estate, both commercial and residential is too expensive, largely a result of too much money in the hands of wealthy imperialists and nowhere else to spend it, and values must be reset.
Reduce the size and scope of federal government while augmenting the power of state and local governments. One size does not fit all; to be effective, government needs be nimble and cognizant of local issues and conditions. We’re better off as a confederation, (or union for those that dislike the word) of semi-autonomous states than as a nation where all is dictated from one central governing body.
I am sure a transition to these ends would be uncomfortable, perhaps even disastrous in the short term, but the cause of the pain wouldn’t be the cures I prescribe, but instead the inevitable result of the reckless and immoral imperial model we have applied to get where we are and have what we have.
One thing for sure. There is no free ride in this world.
We will have to go back to work to get out of this mess.
Or, we will fail catastrophically.
Take your pick.