That is, how to get our economy out of the ditch and back on the tracks. There are two extremes. On the Left, the only acceptable solution(*) is to “spend our way to prosperity”. On the Right, it is “cut taxes, especially marginal income tax rates”. The two sides are shouting at other across an abyss, neither side is moving, neither side has a fresh, new idea. Meanwhile, America writhes in agony, the people becoming increasingly disenchanted, checking out in droves, retreating to every crazier extreme positions.
(*) In my last task before I retired, I was routinely lectured by the IT Director about the difference between a “requirement” and a “solution”. He would say, “You can’t go to solutions until you’ve defined the requirement.” Entering all this as an IT amateur, I figured it was all just more bureaucratic double-talk, intended to prolong the process and avoid ever producing a tangible product. In the end, I came to understand his meaning.
Cutting taxes and/or increased spending are both “solutions”. The politicians, and the public, are screaming to throw one or more solution(s) at the problem before they understand the problem, much less have a defined “requirement”. There is no place for solutions until the problem is understood.
This flawed process of solutions without understanding will probably go on as long as external forces allow it, then it will collapse. The second, far less likely, scenario is that three or four opinion leaders on each side will realize that the adults are gone, no one is going to save them from destroying their Nation, they’ll have an “Ah!Ha!” moment and realize they are now responsible. At that point, pray God, they will call a truce and begin working on an understanding of the long term problems, and then possibly solutions. Then again, maybe that’s just my crazy optimism and uncrushable hope for America.
The problem we confront is a loss of our manufacturing base. I’ll pick a number here and say that 30% of the population doesn’t need and doesn’t care about the manufacturing base. They are academics, entertainers, entrepreneurs, government workers, etc, etc. Or they just don’t work and support themselves at all. The other 70%+/- of the population needs a job to go to work at where, through their skill and efforts, they can add sufficient value to the process and product to justify a wage that will support them, plus at least one additional person.
There is nothing to replace those jobs. We cannot all be entrepreneurs, comedians, government workers, songwriters, or unemployed. No matter what education you give folks, 70% will, by their very brain wiring, need a job where someone else takes care of creating the infrastructure so they can concentrate on what they do within that infrastructure. Those manufacturing jobs bring prosperity wherever they go, and right now while we struggle mightily to avoid facing the truth, those jobs are bringing prosperity to China and other points “over there”.
Protectionism won’t work and we shouldn’t even think about it. There are other policy tools available to insure that American workers have a fair shot at a job that will allow them to add value to process and product, and allow them to support self and family. Without addressing these underlying structural issues, spending more money or cutting taxes is simply pouring fresh water into the ocean.
What can you do? Demand that your politician, or candidate, explain the problem to you before proposing solutions. Then challenge any assumptions with facts and probing questions. Be persistent, have faith, never lose optimism.
G’day all, and may God continue to bless America!