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Losing Our Country

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Message Alexia Cameron

Not long ago America was a country in which very few individuals were extremely wealthy, blue-collar workers earned wages that positioned them in the middle class and working families saw their children's standard of living steadily rising above their own. America was the preeminent superpower of the world and our great nation propped up the failing economies of those countries devastated by World War II.

During the Postwar period the United States dominated many export markets due to its inherent economic strengths including the fact that its industrial base was unphased by war. However, this immense advantage was only temporary. The 1970s ushered in an era of idleness, in which Americans lost their foothold in production and the gap between the United States and other countries' export competitiveness lessened. U.S. trade deficits ballooned in the 1980s and 1990s as “free trade” deals expanded America's appetite for foreign goods. Our demand for foreign goods exceeded demand for American goods, and thus our country began to slip away from the greatness it once embodied; we began to lose our country.

Today the U.S. is a shadow of the superpower it once was. America is simply living off its good name. The dollar is currently upholding its status as a safe-haven based primarily on its reputation, but America's current deteriorating financial conditions, if allowed to continue will soon undermine its value. The U.S. has a deficit of $731 billion up from $100 billion in the 1990s. The U.S. encumbered itself with disastrous “free trade” agreements and organizations like NAFTA and the WTO. We were stripped of our manufacturing prowess as manufacturing fled the country to low cost nations where labor was cheap. We established tax codes that made it more profitable for American companies to manufacture their goods elsewhere and ship them to back to the United States.

A country that produces nothing produces no wealth. The companies within a country are that country's wealth producers. We allow our companies to be snatched up by foreign competitors on the open stock market. Over 16,000 of our best wealth producing companies have been auctioned off and the U.S. has no authoritative government agency prohibiting the Great American Sell-off. Of course there is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, but it merely serves as a rubber stamp with no actual authority. While CFIUS was created as an interagency committee to oversee national security implications of foreign investments into the U.S. economy, it has only stopped one acquisition since its creation.

Our political system is also failing us. Our leaders are too preoccupied with their lobbyists' needs to enact any sort of beneficial change, they are foregoing their responsibility to the American public. Most of the lobbies include ex-elected and appointed government officials who possess intimate knowledge of exactly what is needed to usher legislation through our government.

Our elected officials enact agreements like NAFTA which exist solely for the benefit of the rich. Millionaires are able to outsource their production and increase their profits, while the rest of Americans watch as manufacturing jobs slip over the border. The gap between the rich and the poor is ever increasing There are 793 billionaires in the world and the U.S. is home to 371 of them or 46 percent. Trailing in at a distant second is Germany with 56 billionaires. The U.S. has developed a mantra of looking out for the good of the elite few rather than the good of many.

The United States is losing the faint glimmer of what it used to be. Soon our country will be unrecognizable. Currently we have no initiatives in place to alter our course. We have no industrial policy, no government directed plans or economic goals. We are living on our previous reputation, gloating about past successes that occurred in an era when most other countries were devastated by war (1945-1975). America succumbed to sloth while other countries worked mercilessly to rise out of their ashes. These countries specifically Japan, China and Germany, now finance our debts as the U.S. has morphed into a country that lives on imports and debt.

America needs to revert to the days when it produced. A country cannot flourish without a solid manufacturing base. In order to regain competitiveness, first we need to renegotiate or exit NAFTA and the WTO so it is even possible for the U.S. to revitalize its manufacturing. Our current conditions make it unfeasible for the U.S. to remain competitive when the average line worker in a U.S. factory earns $18 per hour while their Mexican counterpart averages $3 per hour.

The U.S. needs to elect officials that are held accountable for their actions. We cannot have people in government that push the ideologies of “free trade” for the benefit of the elite. Our officials need to develop industrial policies that protect American owned companies and tax codes that encourage Americans to produce in the U.S. while also penalizing those that outsource. Corrupt lobbyists should not take precedent over the needs of the American people as a whole. We cannot continue on the path we have traversed for the last 30 years. Americans can no longer hide behind the our ever deteriorating reputation. We need to adapt the same mentality that other countries abided by after WWII, we need to focus on the good of the nation. America is slipping from our grasps, and we cannot let our country become another cautionary tale.

The United States has become apathetic to the deterioration of its economy and its subsequent dethroning as the world's preeminent superpower. America needs government officials that will relinquish the ideologies of “free trade” and work toward the betterment of the country. We are losing America and we need to reclaim our country through fair trade - economic nationalism, a strong manufacturing base and competent leaders to change our current disintegrating course.

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Alexia Cameron is the junior editor of EconomyInCrisis.org. She graduated with a degree in journalism from The Ohio State University.
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