Declining: the act of going down the tubes
now and continuing to do so in the future
With the election of Obama, people in America -- and the world -- are expecting change. The are hopeful and anticipatory. They believe.
The economic crisis is beginning to reveal things that most Americans either didn't believe or didn't want to believe about corporations, banks and the financial markets. In the process, the truly astute Americans are also beginning to see things about themselves, their families and society as a whole.
The revelation of $20 billion plus bonuses on Wall Street set off a temporary and short-lived debate. Obama was "angry" and slapped the wrists of everyone concerned saying that now is not the time for bonuses and profits -- that can come later. Those on Wall Street retorted that the bonuses were necessary for job retention and basic survival. Imagine this: People who didn't get as large a bonus as in past years complained that they are having to cut back on their standard of living. Something like 46% of those surveyed all said that they "deserved" more bonus money than what they received. And then, just to compound the issue, the State of New York complained that its tax revenue had dropped because of lower bonuses.
In what should be a wake-up call to all Americans is the following: AP Investigation: Banks Sought Foreign Workers. As banks were laying off more than 10,000 American workers, they were also seeking to hire 4,163 foreign workers. The reason: The foreigners will work cheaper than Americans.
This should be a three-part wake-up call to all Americans. The first part is that American corporations are interested only in themselves and not their fellow Americans. Excessive profits are more important than the welfare of other Americans. This equates to greed.
The second part of the wake-up call is that Americans are demanding excessive wages and benefits. The foreigners that take American jobs in the banks are willing to accept the "paltry" annual wages of $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households. Obviously Americans want much more than that.
The third part of the wake-up call is that apparently there are not enough Americans who hold or posses specialized skills and advanced degrees. A large part of the blame can be laid squarely on the American education system, which sees roughly 40% of students dropping out of high school. The rest of the blame has to go to the parents of young adults and the young adults themselves.
Despite all of the talk and the hype to the contrary, in Washington it is still business as usual. Obama has surrounded himself only with politicians from the "old school." They are all going to take care of those who either have given money to get them into power, or who potentially will give them money to keep them in power. Naturally, those who have given money already are in a better position. The much maligned, and appropriately so, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich showed America how it is all done in a very basic and unsophisticated way. His mistake was that he just wasn't subtle enough.
America's free-wheeling capitalism has now caused two major economic crises. The first was the Great Depression in 1929 with the collapse of the stock market. The second was in 2008 with the collapse of the entire financial system in America and most of the world. The Great Depression lasted for 10 years, and it took World War II to break the cycle.
Many blame the gold standard, which was the basis for money and trade at the time for the Great Depression. For today's economic crisis the blame can be standardized and simplified into one simple term: Greed. In economic terms, it can be defined simply as the pursuit of excessive profits and unwarranted, unearned and unrealistic personal wealth. In short, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Free-wheeling, unregulated capitalism does not work in the long run. It is the ultimate Ponzi scheme which collapses under its own weight over time. Those at the top suck all the money out of everything that they can. Those trying to get to the top are given money along the way, but when everything collapses, they are the biggest losers. Those at the top lose little, and can continue to suck money out of the system with basic impunity.
Correcting the economic crisis is not going to be easy. The consumer needs to gain confidence in the economy, which is difficult and getting more difficult as the sins of corporations become more widely known. The government needs to work comprehensively towards regaining consumer confidence.
With two of the Obama appointees -- both long term politicians -- Timothy Geithner and Thomas Daschle now coming clean on their taxes, the IRS needs to start auditing all politicians. Geithner quicly paid $42,702 in back taxes and penalities. Daschle also quickly paid $140,167 after a bit of manuevering since June of last year to hide his tax problems. If just two career politicians owed $182,869, think of how much more could be paid into the treasury coffers from other politicians.
The IRS and state tax auditors then need to quickly start auditing those who received major bonuses. When people start making big money, they think that they are above the law, and they will do everything that they can to cheat on their taxes. That is part of the greed culture.