Since I have turned pessimistic about the future of the Grand Experiment that was the Good Ol' U S of A, maybe I can explain some of where that pessimism comes from by looking at the economic trends that will wreak havoc in the coming years.
Our documented political gridlock will prevent us from addressing our economic concerns and those issues will continue to worsen our economy. In my considered opinion, the big fortunes have turned totally selfish and are actively harming the security and future of the country for short-term financial gain. I do not see a way out of this.
There are some steps we can take to postpone a crisis, but I doubt we have the will or ability to do so.
Here are those steps:
1. We can postpone crisis if we pass laws which make it easier for unions to organize workers; this will increase overall demand by raising wages. But, Congress has shown that it is captured by the Big Money Bastards and it is unlikely any pro-union laws will be passed. This situation will mean a continuing downward pressure on wages, lower aggregate demand, increased unemployment, deflation in housing and other key sectors and basically a downward spiral of GDP, jobs and wages.
2. We can postpone crisis if we hire more Justice Department regulators so we can prosecute companies which break laws which encourage workers to form unions. The BMB have co-opted the approval process of Congressional appointees and lowered the budget of regulatory agencies. This means companies will continue to be free from prosecution for any illegal union busting activities they may choose. Results summarized in #1 above.
3. We can postpone crisis if we enforce all anti-monopoly laws and pass more. Once again, Congress is in the pocket of big money corporations and I can see no likelihood of effective monopoly regulation. Since any monopoly creates economic inefficiencies from a lack of competition, it means that Americans will continue to pay too much for all the products and services they consume while the corporations enjoy monopoly profits which enable them to pay Congress for laws and regulations which protect their monopolies. Further, when monopolies control most major markets, their market power prevents any effective competition from arising, thus limiting job creation.
4. We can postpone crisis if we hire more regulators to enforce existing anti-monopoly laws........... I can only laugh - see #3 above.
5. We can postpone crisis if we make oil, gas, electricity, water, sewer and telephone services into Public Utilities and regulate them with a Public Utility Commission. Any time a product or service is used by most people and also requires large capital investment to achieve scale economies, there is a potential for monopoly abuse. That's why we had State PUC's and Federal anti-monopoly laws. Now it is time to control the utilities so their monopoly power is limited to reasonable returns on investment instead of monopoly profits.
The Nuclear power industry deserves special mention. This industry has corrupted the NRC so that our population is in imminent danger of an American Chernobyl. What is the hubris that suggests we can control the atom when we cannot keep bridges from falling down? I am torn between drinking myself to stupor and pissing my pants.
Fukushima WILL happen here.
UPDATE 10.7.11: Shut 'em down - http://barnegat.patch.com/articles/petitioners-fight-for-suspension-of-fukushima-style-nuclear-plants
6. We can postpone crisis if we cancel all Free Trade agreements: they destroy American jobs. And, we should quit the WTO, NAFTA and other agreements. There is enough evidence that Free Trade is a job-killing disaster. It is time to recognize the truth and cancel these job-killing deals. They benefit no-one except the corporations that send our jobs overseas.
7. We can postpone crisis if we create a national industrial policy which identifies those industries we want in the future and then encourages those industries with tariffs, subsidies and government contracts. While this would be a sensible approach to our future and one which is actively practiced in more rational countries, the politics of it in Washington DC make it DOA. Too bad.
8. We can postpone crisis if we tax away the great fortunes. Behind every great fortune lies a great crime. We are creating great crimes and great fortunes every day. The effect of this is to steal the means of making a living from the middle class and doom the country to a two tier economy: super rich and desperately poor. Welcome to the Third World. These fortunes stifle innovation, competition and job creation. The result is a static society with no growth - which is what we have today.
9. We can postpone crisis if we tax away the great incomes. Great incomes produce great fortunes - they are bad for the country. See #8 above.
10. We can postpone crisis if we restore Glass-Stegall so that commercial banks can NOT buy assets. Killing this law was the single biggest mistake we have ever made as a country; now commercial banks can now speculate in the stock and commodity markets with free money from the FED. Not only does it create the mega-fortunes we see, but it also kills any effective monetary policy. Monetary policy cannot work when banks have no incentive to make low profit loans and every incentive to gamble. Further, the BMB's keep bribing Congress and regulators so the situation won't change.
11. We can postpone crisis if we keep Social Security and Medicare as high as possible so that we do not reduce aggregate demand among the elderly and handicapped. Besides, it's the right thing to do. The shadow forces of big money want to take away any help for those who need help. Roughly 25% of the population receives checks from the federal government. Like it or not, we have a dependent population - it is unconscionable to walk away. But, that is exactly what the BMB will have us do.
12. We can postpone crisis if we manage our debt so that we borrow when we need stimulus and pay down when we don't need it. If we manage our fiscal policy with the sense we have displayed before, we can do that. But, I do not think we can do so in the current political climate.
13. We can postpone crisis if we eliminate paid political ads - require that broadcasters provide free access to qualified political parties as a condition of their FCC license. Paid political ads create the need for money that corrupts the process. It is sensible to eliminate the need for paid ads by requiring the media to provide a reasonable amount of free ads as a condition of their license. But, of course, those media empires will simply bribe Congress and the regulators so that will not happen.
As I said earlier, it is time to fight and die for the flag and the future.
The battlegrounds are listed above.
I'd love to be wrong, Barry. But I am not betting on being wrong.