The other day I went with my son to the metal salvage yard. We had been cleaning up the shop and had two or three engine blocks plus the usual amalgamation of sheet metal. We pulled into the yard to wait in line for the weigh-in scale and in front of us was a large construction truck loaded down with scaffolding. Scaffolding on its way to the crusher and then to be melted down because that construction company saw no future need in owning scaffolding as a tool of its trade. Or perhaps they needed the few dollars as scrap metal more than its potential use. Either way you look at it, it says something frightening.
We weighed in and were directed to a slot to back in and dump our load, and as we parked to unload, in front of us were piles and piles of wire shelving, wire store shelving. It looked like a Home Depot equivalent of the Elephant's Graveyard, white bleached bones of commerce left to bake in the sun after the days of roaming the Savanna are over. We emptied the truck and collected our few dollars for scrap and left to collect another load.
This time as we pulled in we were behind a flat bed semi-truck loaded six feet high with more store shelving. These were hard shelves, gondolas, the type most people never notice in stores but I knew from my days in the auto parts business that these were expensive commodities, and this truck was loaded down with probably close to $100,000 worth about to be turned into $300 worth of scrap. These two examples are not the actions taken in a recession; these are the actions taken in a depression when business sees no future.
It is like we are living in two parallel universes, the people in one and the government in the other. Hillary Clinton goes to India and tells its leaders Americans don't want protectionism. And then is blasted to bits by comments from the readers of Democratic Underground.
The Senator is saying to us that we must take what we can get and be grateful for it. Well, I'm not grateful, I'm angry; I'm tired of watching our jobs, our healthcare, and our standard of living going down the toilet while Senators, Congressmen, and even Presidents tell me we must take what we can get and be grateful for it. It makes me angry because only one universe is suffering; Goldman Sachs is doing quite well on the Fed's free money policy as are the health insurance providers and the Congressmen and Senators.
Last week in the New York Times was the following headline, "Democrats Drop Key Part of Bill to Assist Unions." They've dropped Card Check from the Card Check legislation! Like dropping the moon missions from the space program after President Kennedy's speech. What friends do American workers have in Congress if this is what comes from the Democratic side of the aisle?
For the same reason that Card Check was castrated; you can have reform but only business and industry-approved reform. They tinker a little in the margins, then proclaim a great reform in their universe, but one that does little to solve the problems in yours.
If left in their hands, this will be the generation of diminished expectations. In California falling home prices coupled with higher unemployment equals lower tax revenue for the state, which in turn means draconian cuts in education, social services and balancing the budget on the backs of workers, which in turn generates more lay offs and lower wages. While FDR offered massive support for the states and minimal support for the banks, Obama's plan is quite the opposite, massive supports for the banks and minimal support for the states.
This is a sh*t storm and it's rolling uphill and threatens to make a black hole out of our universe, business, industry and most of all the people. Falling wages, shorter hours, unemployment and under employment along with such euphemistic Orwellian non-speak as jobless recovery means Federal tax revenues will fall. No job? No Social Security withholding. No withholding, no money coming in which will make hamburger out of the current Social Security projections.
Three guesses as to what will come next? Republicans will coyly smile as the blue dogs snap their fingers and tell the cameras, "Damn, we wish we didn't have to do this but you must take what you can get and be grateful for it." As for me I'm not just losing faith in Obama or blue dog Democrats, I'm losing faith in a system that fails to deliver the goods to the people. Where you order an apple pie and get a mud pie and are told it's almost just as good. A system where millions of people are losing their homes and struggling to make ends meet and the President says, give it two years.
Are the banks to wait two years also? It does not need to be this way; the New Deal invested in the people and built America's modern infrastructure. Airlines were the wave of the future, so they built airports. We need green energy, our people need jobs, so why aren't we doing this? Our trade policy is strangling our economy while our cities fall into ruins so why aren't we changing it? Our tax policy is even more absurd than our trade policy. It's not protectionism, it's national defense and common sense. It was FDR who said, "They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish."
"There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction." John F. Kennedy