You’ve probably figured it out for yourself. I have a tendency to reinvent the wheel. But just in case you’ve been too busy to think about the global revolution that’s taking place, here’s my “Eureka!” moment.
I think I know what’s going on in the world – and why. It was Sandra who got me thinking about it.
Why, Sandra mused, are powerful global corporations destroying America’s middle class?
Why indeed? You would think they have a lot to lose by undermining their customers’ purchasing power.
At first, I thought it must be a desire for personal dominance. Wipe out the middle class and leave just the super-rich and the desperately poor, and the super-rich can pretty much do as they please. The infamous “droit de seigneur” (which gave feudal lords the right to deflower any maiden in their feifdom) sprang to mind.
But as I thought about it, a more commercial explanation emerged.
Globalization opened the door for western corporations to develop new markets – and not just by selling goods abroad. By moving their production facilities to less developed countries, these corporations not only lower labor costs dramatically but also stimulate the foreign economies and generate new customers over there.
OK. You knew that.
But did you figure out where that leaves American consumers?
Eventually, we become obsolete. Or at least disposable.
The inevitable consequence is that America – and the west – must accept eroded wages and workers’ rights to compete with less developed economies abroad. Over time, standards of living will level out around the globe.
Now, I have to concede there’s a moral argument in favor of that. After all, why should Americans and other citizens of industrialized nations enjoy a vastly superior standard of living to the people in less fortunate countries?
But, as one of the lucky ones, I am reluctant to give up my advantages.
And I expect my elected representatives to protect them.
It’s not just that the global corporations are immensely powerful. There are market forces at work, which once set in motion become irresistible.
I imagine the best our governments can do is soften the impact of this revolutionary global change. And one way to do that is to demand redress from the corporations and individuals that profit so abundantly from globalization. In other words, tax them.
The revenue from these taxes could be used to repair and expand the country’s infrastructure, encourage research and innovation, and fund various projects that provide jobs and sustain the middle class.
Of course this will not happen if the politicians in power are owned by the corporate elite. Their policies will inexorably advance the global change that’s sending jobs abroad and taking money our of our pockets. And they will protect the super rich from taxation at all costs.
Our only recourse is to elect representatives who are prepared to demand that the corporate and financial elite share a small fraction of the enormous wealth they’re accruing at our expense – as President Obama suggests.
His task in this election year is to persuade Americans to let go of the myths of the past, to overcome their nonsensical fear of “socialism” and their veneration of “free enterprise.”