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Time to Turn the American Economic Model Upside Down? Consider alternatives to consumption and growth

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Is more buying, more consuming what the US needs to recover from the economic straits we're in? Maybe it's time to turn the economy upside down, to create a totally new way of measuring success or positive outcomes. 

The basic underlying theory of the conservatives is that taxes discourage spending that leads to growth. But they are supporting big corporations, multinational corporations-- the kinds that pay few or any taxes. What if there was an economic model that measured national economic success by different parameters and standards-- ones that focused on jobs, stability, sustainability, gross national happiness... rather than numbers that don't really help the nation and the people. 

For decades, the heads of the US in government, business, commerce, economics have all sought to make the economy healthier through growth by increasing consumption. 

flickr image  from Terry McCombs

Since this idea began being wired into the brains of the captains of America, in the 1920s, things have changed. Bill Clinton signed WTO and NAFTA. Bush and Obama have continued to sign international trade agreements that have made industry after US industry extinct, putting tens of millions of US workers either out of work or out of good paying jobs. 

Out sourcing of services has made it more and more attractive for US companies to hire internet connected outsourced workers in India, Pakistan, Phillipines, Russia, Poland, etc. 

To have a safe job today, you need to do something that can't be outsourced-- chef, auto-mechanic, shift manager (I imagine even that could be outsourced), landscaper, waitress, emergency room doctor doing stitches and intubations (because even diagnoses, with video and a nurses aide assist might cover some aspects of the job)  live musicians, road crew workers, teachers (oops. they could be done on-line or with video teachers,) camerapersons operating cameras, construction workers (oops, construction's way down). You get the idea, sort of. 

The US is no longer an economy that consumes things. Oh sure, we consume things, but the economy that the US depends upon being healthy does not derive much benefit from selling things made in China or Korea or Japan or Malaysia or Pakistan-- like iPhones and clothing and shoes and TVs and computers.

When consumption of imported goods goes up, it helps the big box stores-- Walmart, Target, Bestbuy, Lowes, Home Depot, except MAYBE the wood and plants in the big box "hardware" stores. 

Consuming phone service doesn't help much. The big companies don't pay much taxes, if any. 

It's time we re-evaluate the kind of economy we have. Do we still want and need an economy based on consumption and growth?  If we're going to consider that possibility, we need to think about the alternate options, if any. 

I like to look to indigenous tribal culture to find alternative ways of doing things that we do today. This approach worked for about 30,000 years before civilization reared its head about 8,000 years ago. 

There's no consumption-growth cycle with tribal culture. There's stability and balance based on sustainable living. 

Sustainability. That's what we've been talking about for energy use-- transportation, for starters. 

Perhaps what we need to look at is a domestic model that supports sustainability. 
Perhaps we need to totally reassess where we find funds to pay for government, infrastructure and the assets and maintenance of the commons. 

Or perhaps, we should reassess where we generate revenues. I love the web and make my living depending upon it. But maybe we should consider taxes on different uses of the web. 

I buy something from Amazon and to do it I'm using bandwidth licensed from the US, a power grid that is supported by national infrastructure, oversight and planning, as well as state and local assets and resources. Maybe it's time to tax the use of the web. 

Or maybe, we need to think about building-- building infrastructure, for new technologies, for easier travel and more energy efficient transportation-- rail systems, broadband for all. Building roads and facilities in national parks. Tourism is a major source of US revenues. Maybe we need to invest more to make the US even more attractive-- new national parks, new museums. Then there's education. The US has been very attractive as a place to go for education. I guess some of that can be outsourced. Universities can offer courses over the web. Maybe we need to set laws that require to get a US university degree, at least three years of the education must be acquired IN the physical United states. 

Maybe we need to look at new ways to measure success in the US. Instead of looking growth in sales or production, look at growth in new, robust infrastructure, growth in businesses that create jobs-- not just growth in sales or gross receipts. 

Maybe we need to tax companies based on the jobs they create-- give them breaks if they create jobs, tax them at higher rates if they generate profits without jobs. 

We have to start thinking out of the box. It seems that the box we've been operating in is not even cardboard, and it's very fragile and shredding and no longer able to do the job it was conceived to do. That means we also need to find people to manage the economy who get that the old container is no longer working. 

Any ideas? It seems the experts are all stuck in the box. It's going to take a bottom up, people's upwelling of ideas to get us out of this mess. 


 

 

Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here. To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 

To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

Follow Rob on Twitter & Facebook. His quotes are here

My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.


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Maybe we just need to abolish corporations. Most p... by Techknowledgie on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 6:38:38 PM
... by Jeff Poster on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 9:49:55 PM
Below are some of the best introductions to the hi... by Timothy Bickford on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 9:30:49 AM
Corporations are really nothing more than associat... by Miriam Callaghan on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 4:52:34 PM
For us to use an alternative to consumption as the... by Philip Zack on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 6:40:47 PM
Please also read the following article, speaks to ... by Ben Wofford on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 6:42:33 PM
Paradoxically, I believe the US is the casualty of... by Reza varjavand on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 6:58:48 PM
As you alluded to we need to go back to the basics... by Dana Pico on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 12:07:34 PM
Dear Dana,I totally agree with your argument tha... by Reza varjavand on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 5:06:39 PM
. . . that you won't like very much: when we thi... by Dana Pico on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 12:09:31 PM
There is a lot of agreement about what we would li... by Norm Keegel on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 7:44:04 PM
We know now that we live under a kleptocracy, wher... by Jim Prues on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 7:46:31 PM
The middle class creates wealth. Neither the gover... by Paul from Potomac on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 7:56:29 PM
Rob, OEN is a valuable resource because of this an... by Fannie LeFlore on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 8:10:35 PM
A lot of good suggestions, initiatives, even group... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 12:42:55 AM
It is disappointing to see all this conversation a... by Frank Legge on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 8:51:15 PM
... by Jeff Poster on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 11:11:46 PM
It's the handbook to the next industrial revolutio... by Jeff Poster on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 9:45:28 PM
The late great David Brower called it the most imp... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 10:31:59 AM
Love this concept! It is thinking in the box that ... by Jillian Barclay on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 10:06:33 PM
The biggest problem I see is money. Money mak... by robert wolff on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011 at 11:44:04 PM
Rob, what you and all the others who comment on th... by Bruce Morgan on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 12:15:16 AM
I've always been an advocate for local and state f... by Greg Campbell on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 1:06:13 AM
It's very interesting in this regard that there se... by eric stone on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 2:42:11 AM
As robert wolff points out in his comment above, m... by Jim-el Moore on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 3:31:00 AM
The only means to turn the American economic model... by R. A. Landbeck on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 5:08:51 AM
It's time we started measuring our lives in terms ... by Cameron Salisbury on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 8:56:25 AM
I like to look to indigenous tribal culture to... by Dana Pico on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 11:50:48 AM
I'd like to see where you get that info. I'm ... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 4:22:45 PM
a lot of ground, based on a cursory glance and com... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 4:39:18 PM
I spent more than half my life among indigenous pe... by robert wolff on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 8:21:54 PM
Excellent piece. I particularly like the idea of m... by Brian J. Foley on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 11:54:16 AM
Was it Douglas Adams who revealed the answer to qu... by Alan Donelson on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 12:05:19 PM
We do need to create a sustainable country. In a&n... by Thomas Brown on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 2:20:45 PM
Bob, The popularity of spending, as the drivi... by Reza varjavand on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 6:23:56 PM
Lots of good questions & ideas here. Speaking ... by L.M. Brown on Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011 at 8:58:57 PM
"What if there was an economic model that measured... by Rixar13 on Thursday, Aug 4, 2011 at 8:12:16 AM
Currency devalues over time. Precious metals typ... by Jim Miller on Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011 at 2:31:43 PM