Where are American jobs? Politicians keep talking about them, but can we really expect to see them? Tax cuts proposed by the right, stimulus proposed by the left -- neither of these will have any meaningful, positive effect on our economy. We can no longer continue the status quo.
The thing politicians in our government like about a free market is that it allows them to be lazy. Republicans and Democrats alike can blame economic problems on the market being "cyclical," going through "ups and downs," or "evening out." There has also been much finger pointing on both sides of the aisle. This is all simply nonsense: the real problem we face is a lack of leadership, a lack of planning.
Look at China. It has the largest population of any country on the planet and has risen from Third World status to become an industrial nation in the span of a decade. We do not want to model ourselves after a country that lacks basic human rights, but it is at least clear that the Chinese government is serious about jobs and building up its middle class.
Dominic Barton, The global managing director of consulting firm McKinsey, has lived in Asia for nearly the past decade. He recognizes Beijing's slavish obsession with economic indicators like GDP as part of the Chinese government's concern for job creation.
"The leadership in China is always worried about how to stay ahead of the growth to create enough jobs," Barton told the Reuters news agency earlier this year. "They know that if they don't and there are disruptions and the people don't have jobs, there will be revolution."
That is something that leaders in Washington need to realize, too.
In 2010, China had a trade surplus of $272.5 billion. With import tariffs ranging from 25 to 300 percent, China has the money to not only employ citizens but also to create high-speed rail projects that the United States can only dream of doing. In fact, the nation is earning so much, it can afford to help keep the American government running. As of July 2011, the United States owed over $1 trillion to China.
The U.S. is supposed to be a superpower, yet this "communist" country is beating us economically. While China was making profits and improving its infrastructure, our national debt grew to over $14.4 trillion in 2010, and our balance of trade deficit was $561 billion that same year.
It is no wonder that the United States is unable to balance its budget without taking on debt from other nations.
We need a plan to protect American jobs. Clearly the "free" market we have been practicing for decades is too expensive.
The "free" market, in conjunction with "free" trade, allows the rich to get richer while the middle class evaporates. The rich get richer by exploiting cheap labor over seas. The middle class and the poor get poorer as they take jobs earning lower wages...It may seem that the poor are bleeding the government dry via welfare, but in reality they want to work; the just can't find jobs.
Meanwhile, there are more and more jobs for a rising middle class in China: jobs that once belonged to American workers. The wealthy in the United States are not worried about the disappearing domestic market -- American citizens who can afford to buy their goods -- because they are creating a new marketplace to sell their products in China.
The problem with the American jobs market comes into view when we look at the so-called "plans" coming from Washington. President Obama wants to rebuild infrastructure, but without Buy American clauses, he will only be giving dock and construction workers temporary employment. Obama is also pushing more job-killing "free" trade deals, which means that those workers will go home only be able to buy foreign-made products. This just puts more and more money in the hands of China and other wealth-producing nations.
By cutting more and more taxes to appease the right, there is less money to help the poor that this system creates. It truly is in a downward spiral; one that can only spell the end of the American dream. While Obama's recent plan is the best offered up to this point, it will not have the kind of lasting effects the nation needs by itself. At best, this plan will merely keep Obama employed four more years.
The real solutions are simple, but may be hard to see for politicians who are only concerned with their next election. That is the first part of any real solution: our leaders must look to the long term, and be brave enough to put their chance at re-election at risk in the interest of helping our nation. We have waited to work on any sort of real recovery for too long, and there will be some pain to get back to stability. The longer we wait, the harder it will become. We need true, fearless leadership from our politicians so we can right this ship.