This past Thursday, Rachel Maddow had on as one of her guests, Paul Rieckhoff who is the Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). He is also the author of ‘Chasing Ghosts’. I have to say that he is one of my favorite guests on her show since he equally challenges both the Republicans and Democrats in defense of our men and women in uniform. They do need advocates such as Rieckhoff.
As he was discussing the troop withdrawals from Iraq with Ms. Maddow, he brought up an interesting and salient point, “They are coming home to the hardest economy in decades and they shouldn‘t be coming home to an unemployment check. We‘ve got to get ahead of that curve and understand there‘s a surge of troops coming home to America in 2009 and 2010.”
He is correct since they have done the heavy lifting and will come home to a country facing astronomically high-deficits as well as unemployment. They will have to compete with the millions that have already been laid off. They will have to fight for the health benefits they deserve as all Americans do. The last figure I saw was that presently we have over 47 million currently uninsured. Well those numbers are climbing as high as the Himalayas if we do not change course. Not only will we have an economic deficit and an employment deficit, we shall have a health deficit. The perfect storm that has the ability to level us as a nation. Get to work, politicians, you have much to do.
Many of these soldier’s grandfathers fought in World War Two, but this war is not their grandfather’s war. As soldiers came home from World War Two, they took the place of ‘Rosie the Riveter’ who were the manufacturing support system for that war. Once our soldiers returned home, the women went back to their homes and both gave birth to the boomer generation. I do not think those women complained in giving up their jobs, they were just glad their loved ones came home.
Jobs were plenty in the automobile industry as well as construction. It became the era of the personal automobile in order to get around our new suburban sprawl. You also saw a rise in constructing new road ways as a support system to get from one community to another. Even the goods that were consumed by those who fought in World War Two were made right here in America.
Today, we are now seeing the death of the American auto-industry, newer homes being built is at a stand-still and as far as goods being made here in America? Well thanks to trade agreements such as NAFTA those jobs were shipped overseas. The reason for the latter, corporations sought cheap labor. Through this trade agreement we morphed from a manufacturing economy into a service oriented economy.
Even in today’s economy, flipping burgers at your local McDonalds is a coveted job. Do not even get me started concerning the overconsumption at fast-food restaurants since I have already addressed it in this piece, The debasement of food.
As I read Newsday each day, I devour what is being written by ordinary Americans and this one letter written by Richard Miller, zeroes in on what ails us as a country. His letter reads below:
A contributing factor to the economic situation in the United States is manufacturing. Simply put, we don't make anything anymore. I work in the eyeglass industry. To prove a point, take off your glasses and see where the frame was made. I guarantee it wasn't the USA. How about your sneakers, or your overcoat? We outsource everything. We make nothing. Start there.
Instead of throwing billions upon billions of dollars at failing banks, how about we start by funding whatever manufacturing base we still have here in the United States. I would love to see Americans wear goods that have a label in them saying, “Made in America”. But, there is a tricky tight-rope that we walk now as we borrow billions if not trillions from China, as a result of this daring move, it will bring about trade wars. Oh what a tangled web we wove when we started borrowing large sums of money to keep us going and shipping our jobs overseas.
At some point, don’t we have only ourselves to blame in our quest for cheaper goods sold Wal-Mart and other stores like it? Wal-Mart after all became the killer of the Mom and Pop stores whose prices could not compete with these big box-stores. Perhaps instead of consuming mass quantities of goods, we should have done with less. I think that is the biggest lesson to us all. Maybe growing the economy where corporations rake in the dough is not the course we should have charted, but living simpler lives.
Being a boomer, I wonder if I will see in my lifetime; how many years I have left on this planet a return to manufacturing the goods we consume here in America. Is it at all possible or have we crossed the Rubicon with no way back?
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