Now that we are in the 3rd year of our depression, yes, folks, things are that bad, it is time to take some radical steps to fix the malaise that has gripped this country. What, you say that things aren’t that bad! Congress will get us out of this mess!
We have the best politicians money can buy. They are all so far up the corporate slush fund that none of them will deal with the realities that we are all facing. Our President, elected with the promise of real change in the way Washington works, proved from Day One that it is business as usual, has shown a complete lack of any leadership abilities, and is too worried about offending anyone to get anything done. What we need is a shift in paradigmes, not a reworking of failed polices.
So, what’s the problem. Well, in the first place, we have the greatest divide in salaries ever in our history. Is the work of a CEO worth 100 to 500 times more than the average salary of his employees? Why have corporate boards approved such bloated compensation packages? Every large corporation’s shareholders should band together and toss out the board of wealthy cronies that have caused this outrage. For every CEO and COO working for 9 figure salary and compensation factors, there are 100’s of qualified managers able to do it better for far less. Corporate boards need to be picked from real people, not the 0.1 of 1% of the rich. Elect from shareholders, workers, people that have a real stake in the survival and progression of the company. If the company is making money, that should be channeled into funding research and development, into higher salaries as a reward for a job well done by the workers, and into better dividends for the shareholders. I watched with dismay during the 1980’s seeing Roger Bonham Smith take General Motors from a major corporation to a corporate joke (remember the movie “Roger and Me”). Throughout his tenure at GM, despite tons of evidence of his incompetence, the GM board continued to support his salary and bonuses.
Secondly, we must stop sending jobs overseas. Henry Ford, as much as I hate the anti-semitic bastard, had the right idea in 1914 when he started paying his workers 3 times the current wage (a wopping $5.00 per 8 hour day). Subsequently called “Fordism” the purpose of paying a worker a relatively high wage is to enable him/her to buy the goods his labor (and others) produce. By creating a working middle class, this expands the market for the goods produced. I mentioned this specifically in a comment to (former Secretary of Labor under Clinton) Robert Reich’s blog and 2 weeks later, he used my thesis in his column (without attribution I might add). A local example is Briggs and Stratton Corporation. A manufacturer of lawn mower engines in Wisconsin, their work force was paid an average salary of $16-20/hour. They moved their production facilities to Mexico, where for the price of one day’s labor in the US, they were able to pay one week’s labor. The Wisconsin labor force were not able to find jobs to replace their salaries, and many ended up not being able to keep their houses and their lifestyles were radically altered, with finding jobs at the minimum wage. Now, multiply that situation across the country and you can see why there is such a change in the working middle class, and erosion of the consumer basis in this country. Of course, the problem is worsened by the fact that these assembly line workers are ignorant and unable to adapt to changing circumstances, and we have no infrastructure to train them in other, more sophisticated endeavors. It is not the job of this country to increase the living standards for China or India or Indonesia. We need to be more concerned about the well-being of the American worker.
So, what’s the remedy? First, stop calling the “uber-wealthy” JOB CREATORS, and call them what they are truly—JOB DESTROYERS. (How does that score in your focus groups you Republican spin-masters?) Let’s tax anyone who makes more than $5,000,000 at a rate of 80%. At the same time, we need to retake stockholder control of corporations. After all, who owes corporations if not the shareholders. Second, give incentives to corporations that create jobs here in the US, and massive penalties to corporations that shift jobs overseas. Third, as much as we need to rebuild roads, bridges, and schools, that will benefit a small segment of the population in the construction industry, and as has been proven to many years now, “TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS DOESN’T WORK! We need to invest in areas that have broad reaching implications. We should be developing high speed rail, especially mag-lev technologies, and start producing hydrogen cell cars with all the support infrastructure needed so we can stop buying foreign oil, and stop shifting massive amounts of our dollars into the hands of people that hate us. Fourth, a massive change in our primary and secondary education is needed. The level of ignorance and outright stupidity in this country is increasing (how else can one explain “Tea Party” and Sarah Palin/Rick Perry/Michelle Bachmann support?). Most High School graduates cannot write, have no knowledge of history, and no comprehension of science. It is amazing to see how many can’t name the current President, much less past Presidents. If we can’t train the next generation in basic skills, is it a wonder that we can’t compete in a world where the average school day is longer, and the school year much longer. We must reward the best Teachers and get rid of the incompetents that are just occupying space and needed salaries. How else can you create the knowledge base for the work force of the next decades?
As always, I appreciate your interest and comments.