As we approach another new year, the political season will begin to heat up in the midst of the cold winter ahead. A great many things can happen between now and election day next November and if anyone could accurately predict what those things would be, they could instantly become part of the “1%”.
Unfortunately, I am not that person.
What I do know, however, is that neither party, none of the candidates in either party, and none of the television “broadcast journalists” will tell you what I’m about to tell you.
Neither party will be able to solve America’s financial problems…neither party has the answers to YOUR problems.
There. I said it and I mean it. And it is abso-frakking-lutely true.
As much as Willard Mitt Romney, or Newt Gringrich, or President Obama would like you to believe that they have the answers to America’s struggling economy….they do not.
Moreover, in today’s political environment, solutions are the absolute last thing on candidates’ minds. Their one and their ONLY concern is getting re-elected. Granted, some politicians honestly believe in what they do and honestly want to do what’s right for the American public….but if they truly wanted to do what is right and do their jobs in leading this country out of this quagmire, they would talk less about each other and more about Americans.
THE OWS HAS IT RIGHT AND IT SCARES POLITICIANS TO THEIR CORE
Absent the OWS movement, we would not be having this debate at all, so kudos where it belongs; with those valiant men and women who have sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears for a cause that 99% of Americans should be supporting.
The arrival of the middle class at the center of the American political debate is a step forward, but President President Obama and his conservative rivals steered clear of the ugly truth that revitalizing the American middle class in a transformed global economy is a staggeringly complex task…and neither Democratic nor Republican orthodoxy alone is the answer.
A recent study by MIT professors Frank Levy and Thomas Kochan laid out the depth of the problem.
Rising blue-collar employment after World War II allowed the United States to create what President Obama called “the largest middle class and the strongest economy that the world has ever known.” Now that those factories have moved overseas, the U. S. faces a far more arduous undertaking.
Levy and Kochan argue for a new “social compact” that includes a public-private partnership where the United States’ unparalleled venture capital and research university systems create high-end design, production, marketing and distribution jobs. Reforming profit sharing, unions, higher education, on-the-job training and tax law would create higher-skilled American workers who benefit from company performance along with senior executives. They cite the training, innovation and profit-sharing practices of Wegman’s, Cisco and Google as examples.
By contrast, President Obama’s most specific legislative proposal is a payroll tax cut funded by a surtax on millionaires. Economists say the cut is a helpful short-term stimulus, but the key to strengthening the middle class over the long-term is the difficult task of creating stable, well-paying jobs.
The United States is hardly alone. Economies around the world are experiencing the same income disparity and stagnation in middle class wages. The reasons for the change – and the potential solutions to America’s economic woes – lie in the American middle class reinventing its place a changed global economy.
WHO IF ANYONE IS TELLING THE TRUTH
The bottom line is this….sweeping technological changes over the last twenty years have altered traditional economic dynamics. The Internet has created network effects in the extreme, with hundreds of millions of worldwide users making Amazon, Facebook and other companies extraordinarily valuable in extremely short periods. At the same time, global, computer-driven financial markets produce staggering profits and losses at lightning speed
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the primary cause of income disparity in the U.S. and its 33 other members was technological change. A historic integration of financial and trade markets, fueled by technology, created an unprecedented worldwide demand for highly skilled workers in those fields. As a result, a select group of CEOs, traders and others – the one percent as they’re now known – became fantastically rich in record time.
At the same time, technology is dividing the middle class. Researchers at Stanford and Brown universities independently found that the number of middle class neighborhoods in the United States is rapidly shrinking as income disparity widened.
To the dismay of the middle class, technological innovation is sending jobs overseas but not reducing costs at home. Education and health expenses in the United States, for example, continue to rise. As The Economist recently noted, the middle class is being squeezed from two sides, with wages dropping and living costs rising.
OUR TIRED, POLARIZED POLITICS HAS NOT CAUGHT UP WITH THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CHANGES
The Democratic Party’s failure to dramatically reform Medicare and Social Security, for example, undermines its argument that government can be effective. At the same time, the global elite’s prosperity is not magically trickling down as supply-side Republicans predicted.
Finding a way forward is not easy. The workings of a rapidly, evolving globalized economy remain poorly understood. Politics based in polarization is self-defeating and the lazy American public had better take this seriously and do something, like the OWS is trying to explain, or it will be too late.
To be fair, President Obama’s goals and vision for the middle class are far more inventive than those of conservative Republicans. Oddly, the Republican right has become more doctrinaire, utopian and out-of-touch with global realities than President Obama’s administration. But the fact that the American public has become used to wars being fought by “others”, and that their own lives remain relatively unaffected is enabling this laissez faire Republican view of hands-off governing to become pervasively rooted and misleading.
Criticism that the president glosses over the country’s staggering fiscal problems, offers vague proposals, and sometimes manipulates figures are legitimate, but the conservative right too often offers simplistic, naive deceptive, condescending and ideological answers to enormously complex dynamic problems.
Over time, the American middle class can innovate, moderate and educate its way back to prosperity. Public-private partnerships can create high-quality schools and jobs. American made high-end goods and services can be exported to China and other growing economies.
The American middle class should not fear technological change or increasing global competition. If we are to not only survive, but truly thrive, we must forge a new way for politics to operate in a transformed world economy.
As Americans, we have become addicted to our way of life and the most important step in overcoming any addiction, as any successful former addict will be quick to tell you, is to first admit you have a problem and that you need help.
And in my heart as well as well as my head, I know that until America hits rock bottom, these changes will not come about and we will limp along until some enormous calamity strikes America to its core that will affect everyone….not just the poor or the middle class….