26 July 2005

My two cents: what America needs

I feel quite sure that I will be tactitly dismissed by some who happen to read this, for "oversimplifying" complex issues and failing to understand how an intricately interacting global economy works. But my point is that, for the majority of American working people, who are the people to whom I believe our government owes its first and foremost loyalty, the intricately interacting global economy isn't working. It is resulting in good jobs disappearing, declining standard of living, increasing dependence on formerly third-world countries not only for energy supplies but for basic manufactured goods, soaring deficits, and increasing and very troubling debt to other countries, particularly China.

I believe we need to rethink, revamp, and largely do away with the post WWII Free Trade Regime, and recast our domestic and international policies, with these priorities (after security and defense of course; we're talking economic policy): 1) Ensure that American working people have opportunities for education and good jobs, including retirement and health care security; 2) Ensure that American business can compete on a level field with other countries, while requiring that to do business in America you must comply with American law, whether here or anywhere. Part of this would be revamping labor laws to encourage organizing and unionizing workers. This benefits everyone in the long run, and anyone who disagrees is not really interested in a consumer economy, they've cast their lot with the current Robber Baron economic model.

To do this, beyond encouraging workers to organize, we need to re-regulate the economy to require business to provide decent wages and decent benefits, or else, no business in the U.S. As for foreign competition, my solution is quite simple: assess a "wages and benefits" tariff on any products sold in the U. S. from countries that fail to pay a calibrated living wage/benefits compensation level, or who fail to provide open information about their economies. This will make their goods cost exactly what they would cost if the wages and benefits were paid. We could then earmark the revenues to assist lower and middle income citizens in our country. In other words, pay and play fair, or else we'll tax your goods and use the money for our people. That way our products will compete on a level playing field. It's time to abandon the whole paradigm of Free Trade, GATT, etc., and consider that decent living standards for working people everywhere must come first, corporate profits second, or else you don't get to play in the world's largest consumer market. If the U.S. were to lead on this (for once), Europe would follow. As for the Chinese and Malaysia; their interests are clearly not ours. Let them fend for themselves in the NEW New World Order.

Meantime, I believe that a program at least comparable to the Interstate Highway System, the wartime and postwar program to develop nuclear weapons, and the Space Program, needs to be funded, with increased taxes as necessary, to invest in developing the necessary technology to move beyond fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy as soon as possible.

If the Democrats embraced something like this; something really meaty, and really meaningful to ordinary people, they would attract a large majority of voters. Politicians of the past 30 years have been far too timid: the problems of our times demand bold solutions.


  1. Interesting. Can you point me to a study or an economist who can support (no Krugman references please, only credible economists) your theory? It's a little surprising that you want to strenghten unions AND get better education in this country given the hijacking of public education by the teacher's unions which has run public education into the ground. I assume you have seen the latest figures for per pupil spending, our rank in the world for same and our pathetic showing in achievement? I also like this article from CA republican McClintock on the amount of money wasted in schools: http://republican.sen.ca.gov/web/mcclintock/article_detail.asp?PID=292

    I assume that this post is not the one on terrorism you promised right?

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