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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/10/10

America - An "Undeveloping" Country?

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The realization that America is in a slide, on a trajectory of decrease, "undeveloping" if you will, is dawning on Americans and it's a rude awakening. I agree with the statement "I want my country back," but not with the sentiment that it has been lost because Barack Obama is president. So, who did take it?

Why are we an 'undeveloping
Why are we an 'undeveloping' country?
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Those in the 20% highest income bracket, the rich and the obscenely wealthy, see a bright future: a simple two caste system of "haves" and "have nots." A return to the 1920's, a time to which we now have similar disparity in wealth.

To people on the right side of the wealth skew a financially segregated society, with money and power consolidated among a few, is comforting. Lose of their current high position seems impossible and the problem of finding "good help" is ameliorated. They have only one issue, maintaining the imbalance of power.

To this end they are deploying both tangible and intangible defenses: the gated and exclusive community; the security system and body guards; the Ivy League education; the clout of the lobbyist; the financial corruption of the election system; nepotism and connections; the punitive wages paid to the masses; monetary and regulatory barriers to business entry; a marketplace strangle hold against under-capitalized up-start competition, and nearly total authority to write the rules of the game.

The duplicitous "conservatives" would have American "have nots" believe that illegals took our jobs, unregulated globalization is the final beneficial manifest destiny of the free market, our current president is a fascist and a socialist at the same time, all people of the Islamic faiths are our enemies, all our enemies are foreigners, too much personal freedom is a bad thing, and totally free (unregulated) markets are our salvation.

It's easy to see the above statements as prima facie contradictory and/or convoluted. Not to mention that they are the facade for a catastrophic amount of fraud perpetrated against the American people.

It's much more difficult to determine the actual causes of our current descent. At the same time, uncertainty, dread and the failure of recent actions to correct the situation make it nearly impossible to remain calm, weigh our options and take positive actions.

Didn't we elect representation and leadership that promised change? Didn't we, in large numbers, give small donations that added up to a big campaign war chest to help those that promised change gain office? Didn't we plug up a failing financial apparatus? Didn't we make a huge investment to save industries in temporary trouble? Didn't we send our politicians the message that corporate tax dodges and tax advantages for exporting American jobs are horrendous? Didn't we, the taxpayers, ante up all we could and aren't we the ones who continue to hold the bag for deregulated market failure?

Yes, all that and more, and yet the "undeveloping" continues as Wall Street rallies. What in heaven's name is going on? I do want my country back, but to get it back I've got to know who really took it and how.

According to MBG Information Services, cited in Bob Herbert's The Horror Show (New York Times, August 10, 2010), "there are now 3.4 million fewer private-sector jobs in the U.S. than there were a decade ago." Thirty million Americans that want to work are out of work, while we need to create an additional 150,000 to 200,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth.

Even though the Obama Administration's effort toward health care and financial reform both lacked teeth and a moveable jaw, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce intends to spend $75 million to fight democrats in the coming election. (Time Magazine, August 16, 2010)

Now, the President as dropped his pledge to renegotiate NAFTA and he has launched a $22 million dollar program to train 3,000 offshore information technology workers. (Information Week, August 3, 2010)

So, generally, this is how our government, and more to the point, our society works:

We elect representation based on what they say during the election campaign.

What candidates say is based on slicing and dicing various interest groups, religious and moral beliefs, and issue positions to obtain a winning number of people who will vote for them.

The money to pay for the research to identify, pars and create the messages to these voters, and the money to reach them with the correct messages, is donated by people, organizations and businesses that want policy and regulatory concessions in return. You and I with our small internet donations included.

Once the elected official is in office he or she answers to two groups: those who will provide campaign financing for reelection and those who vow to spend money against their reelection.

Hence, your vote and mine are worth little except on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Ditto your small donation.

Notice, I did not say this is how our democracy works, as what I am describing is not a working democracy, it is a Corporatocracy.

There is currently no difference between the balance of power and the population wealth disparity: 20% of the people hold 93% of the wealth/income, while 80% of the people have 7% of the wealth/income.

Your voice, your vote is only worth about 1/20 of someone in the top 20th percentile of American wealth. See: Wealth, Income, and Power by G. William Domhoff (September 2005, updated July 2010).

Depressing? Yes. That's why I'm calling the continuing economic slump, that started in December 2007, soon to be three years old, the Second Depression.

Hopeless? No.

Unfortunately, President Obama has stated his belief that there is little government can do to encourage private-sector job growth. To this I say, Mr. President, you lie! There is plenty it can do, it just doesn't want to do it because of how our Corporatocracy works.

Here are some things you will not see the government do until the pressure is unbearable:

  1. End offshore corporate and personal tax loopholes

  2. Enforce existing laws against offshore tax shelters

  3. End tax incentives for offshore job creation

  4. Institute tax incentives for American job creation

  5. Make a major investment in renewable energy infrastructure manufactured in the U.S.

  6. Renegotiate trade agreements for parity in external costs - pollution control, working conditions, child labor exploitation, workers injury compensation, etc.

  7. End the subsidy of fossil fuels by charging for external pollution costs

  8. Enforce product safety laws on imported goods

  9. Enforce U.S. food safety laws on imported food

  10. Regulate Wall Street, re-institute Glass-Steagall

  11. Meaningful health care reform

  12. End oil industry subsidies

Much of the above is simply saying if you're subject to the law here, your products are subject to the same laws when they are imported.

If you benefit from being here in the U.S. you pay tax in the U.S.

If you are benefiting from abusing the planet or people that cost must be paid, that inequity must be addressed.

Parity, period.

Watch the jobs, watch the industries, watch the technology, come home.

Globalization must either be regulated so it's fair, or call me an isolationist.

We shouldn't be growing any bananas in New Jersey and, therefore, we shouldn't be importing fresh tomatoes via air cargo from Israel and the Netherlands.

Did anyone believe we could import dry wall from China, which weighs a ton, cheaper than we could make it in Stoney Point, New York? If you didn't hear, it was full of poison. Facts easily indicate when somebody is cheating.

If the political systems has not be responsive to our wishes, how do we turn up the heat to get some or all of the above done? The answer is in the market place. The system only understand one currency: money.

We must use the market and vote with our feet. How? Here are some ideas:

Eliminate or decrease your investments in corporate stock.

Cut down on purchases at corporate retailers and big box stores, use local independent retailers more.

Cut down on your use of fossil fuels.

Insist on speaking to customer service people in the U.S.

Boycott the products and services of companies that are exporting jobs.

Cut your use the expensive corporate alternative method of payment: credit and debit cards, use more cash.

Buy American made products even if they cost a more. (They're probably worth it.)

Bank with a local bank or, better, credit union.

Unionize your work place.

Boycott businesses that support right-wing candidates.

Let other people know you're doing these things and encourage them to do same.

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Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration (more...)
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