Sunday, July 25, 2010



If We Bounce Back from this Horrible Economy, Just How Well do We Really Bounce Back?

We have 9.5% unemployment and a labor market where there are nearly five unemployed Americans for every job available.

A friend and I were having a discussion about this and he said "All I know for certain is that the economy has got to produce a great many more decent jobs - and soon. Otherwise, many of the long-term unemployed are going to eventually become a permanent jobless underclass requiring continual government/taxpayer support."

The thing is, though, even before the economy tanked, skilled jobs that stuck to your ribs (benefits, demand for work) were disappearing all over the place. How can you really thrive in a country that, increasingly, makes...nothing? I think it all goes back to Walmart mentality. Yes, you save 10-15 percent on what you buy there. But the cost is that you may not be able to find a job because those lower costs on consumer goods are the result of trading with countries in which labor rates are too low to compete with. The more you trade with them, the more you cut your own throat. Add to it, the fact that they have very little concern for health standards (tainted dog food and toxic chemicals on toys) or the environment.

Cheaper is not better. Fast food is another example. If you've ever seen the quasi-documentary, "Supersize Me", it illustrates (comically, albeit) that a fast food diet can kill you. But because it's low priced food (and tasty), the poor in this country, and much of the rest of the country, as well, tend to consume quite a bit of fast food. Cheaper food, more savings? Not really. Diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure are exacerbated by that kind of diet. The high calorie, low nutritional nature of the food leads to significant weight gain, which can cause musculoskeletal problems. What's in the food itself promotes general body inflammation, which, again, is tied to a lot of disease processes that are currently on the rise.

Even if the economy improves at some point in the near future, it may all be somewhat transitory. So, the real question is: What will America do to restructure itself to run better in the future, for ourselves and future generations? Just as businesses that are on the brink of going out, and get rescued, have to come up with a plan for their future (General Motors), so should the country. In fact, that's what we've been lacking for decades. We've known that trade imbalances and burgeoning national debt and budget deficits have been serious issues since the 80's. But no planning has been done, not in any real sense. If it doesn't happen soon, it may be too late. That's assuming there's even a window of opportunity still remaining.



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