Neither Party is Leading the U.S. to Prosperity

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. And I’ll vote for him again in 2012. But that doesn’t mean I agree with everything he does. Far from it.

I am an Independent who usually votes Democrat because I find Republican policies often incomprehensible and nearly always reprehensible.

You could call me a Bernie Sanders Independent. Or a Dennis Kucinich Democrat.

Which apparently makes me part of a minuscule minority in America.

And yet I have lots of company when I complain about American trade policies.

I bet you will agree that these policies have destroyed the country’s industrial base, causing the wholesale flight of manufacturing to other countries. And you will probably agree that this single factor has done more to rob America of jobs than anything else you can think of.

I saw a feature on TV recently about the last major athletic shoe factory being threatened by trade treaties now before Congress. And I thought oh well it’s just a matter of time before it goes. The Obama administration is urging passage of the agreements, continuing the free-trade policies of past administrations.

What does that make President Obama? He could just as easily be a Republican as a Democrat. America’s two major parties disagree on just about everything, but they seem to agree on the merits of “globalization.”

I don’t want to sound cynical but I can’t help feeling the main reason for this surprising unanimity is the fact that politicians of every stripe depend on campaign contributions from Big Business to fund their re-election campaigns.

Obviously, their primary concern is not the welfare of America’s workers.

For decades, American politicians have sold out their country’s industrial birthright to enrich the corporations, while promising that the American economy will benefit – some day, somehow – from the exchange. Here’s what a web site called “Business Insider” has to say about that:

It was America that showed the world how to mass produce everything from automobiles to televisions to airplanes.  It was the great American manufacturing base that crushed Germany and Japan in World War II.  But now we are witnessing the deindustrialization of America.  Tens of thousands of factories have left the United States in the past decade alone.  Millions upon millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the same time period.  The United States has become a nation that consumes everything in sight and yet produces increasingly little.  Do you know what our biggest export is today?

Waste paper.  Yes, trash is the number one thing that we ship out to the rest of the world as we voraciously blow our money on whatever the rest of the world wants to sell to us.  The United States has become bloated and spoiled and our economy is now  just a shadow of what it once was.  Once upon a time America could literally outproduce the rest of the world combined.  Today that is no longer true, but Americans sure do consume more than anyone else in the world.  If the deindustrialization of America continues at this current pace, what possible kind of a future are we going to be leaving to our children?

Click here to read more.

As far as I could determine the sages at “Business Insider” subscribe to the view that the answer to America’s economic crisis is slashing government spending. It’s an idea that’s extremely popular today.

Driven by the Tea Party fanatics, the Republican Party is aggressively pursuing that goal. And the President seems to think he has no choice but to follow meekly.

But to me, it’s just plain wrong.

Cutting back – which seems to be code for shredding Social Security, Medicare and the rest of the social safety net – can produce only one thing: an endless downward spiral into poverty and misery. The bottom of the spiral would come when American wages sink to the level of those in “emerging” countries. Wages would gradually even out around the globe as capital continuously flees to a more profitable location whenever labor costs rise in the country they’re currently exploiting.

That’s an inevitable consequence of “free-market” economics.

The path to restoring U.S. prosperity lies in an entirely different direction. The only way to turn the economy around is for America to undertake a massive rewrite of its trade treaties.

China, for example, cannot continue to export goods to America virtually duty-free, while charging a 25 percent tariff on U.S. imports.

And in the short term, the government has to spend more, not less, to stimulate the economy and put Americans back to work.

Until someone turns up with the guts to bell that cat, I will continue to vote for Obama and the Democrats. But I will know in my heart that I am probably taking part in an empty ritual.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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