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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/6/11

Importing Poverty to the US

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There was a time when the US could have led the world into an enlightened age of environmental and social enhancement.   We could have exported our abundance and wealth creating ways to forge a better world for ourselves and our children, grandchildren and all of humanity.   Instead we have squandered that possibility.   In lieu of exporting our knowledge and vision for a better world our leaders chose to import poverty and undermine the once greatest nation on earth.


The US had the largest consumer market in the world, the envy of every Western and developing nation.   We had discovered the problems associated with environmental degradation and commenced the long process of instituting regulations that would protect our world for future generations.   We had learned how to create a nation where all citizens could share in the progress and wealth.   We were an inclusive society that held liberty and freedom as the torch to light the way for all others who followed our path.


In the drive to provide a decent life and a chance at realizing the American Dream for as many of our citizens as possible we gave birth to the first middle class ever in history.   For once there was not just a few rich few lording over the poor masses.   Everyone had a chance to make it for themselves and to create a brighter future for their children.   Daunting challenges of race and discrimination were being resolved bit by bit.   Civil rights were in full bloom, even though there were still many miles to go we were marching together in the right direction.   Technological advances in medicine were being made available to a greater and greater percentage of our population.   Indeed we were a nation to be envied and we deserved the title of the greatest nation in the world.


And with the power of the free market and the greatest consumer market on the planet we had the power to influence all other developed and developing nations.   For example, we could have demanded that any nation that wanted to sell their products in our markets had to comply in their own nations with our environmental and worker protection laws.   If a trading partner wanted to make money selling their goods in the US they would have to pay the same minimum wage to their workers and provide the same level of worker protection in the form of the 40 hour work week, paid holidays and vacations and so forth.


We could also have demanded that our trading partners practice the same level of environmental protection that we fought so hard to make our government implement.   We could have forced our trading partners to protect the air, water, earth and oceans.


If those trading partners chose to ignore our requirements they would either face very stiff tariffs or be disallowed from exporting their products to be sold in the US market.


Yes it would have cost more to adhere to our values.   Products would not have been quite a cheap as they have been.   The fact is it costs money to protect workers and the environment.   But the cost would have been miniscule compared to what the future cost will be to clean up our environment.   And the cost we are paying now in the form of lost jobs, lost income and idle resources is far greater than the extra cost to pay a livable wage and salary to our employees and workers.


When we pay more for clean energy there is always some company that makes a profit from those additional regulations.   There is money to be made in pollution prevention and clean-up.   There is money to be made in producing clean energy.   There is money to be made in paying workers more because they will spend more, creating an ever larger economy while also creating sustainable methods of production that enhance our planet's health instead of degrade it.

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