J and D's Corner

From the Letters Archive

Just another rant on the blame game and the search for painless answers to painful problems.

The Letters editor must have liked this one because he spent a little time rationalizing my paragraph structure, breaking up a couple.  I guess I tend to be overly generalized in my grouping of ideas.

To:  AV Press
Date: 11/17/2011
Re:  Work in America

The ongoing national debate on income inequality focuses primarily on schemes to confiscate money from the evil top and dole it out to the deserving bottom.  This is fine for those politicians whose primary objective is to create a dependent class majority voting bloc that will keep them in office, but it does nothing to address the underlying systemic problem.

The basic difficulty we face is that we have simply worked ourselves out of work, so to speak.  Income distribution in America reached an optimum when many workers of only moderate skill were needed to produce the food and manufactured goods required by society, a situation which no longer exists.  In 1940 one farmer fed 11 others, today one farmer feeds 90.  The once massive pool of low to medium-skill manufacturing jobs has shrunk in a similar fashion, and while service-sector has grown significantly, it has not been sufficient to take up the slack.

Many like to blame foreign workers for hogging the remaining lower-skilled manufacturing jobs, but this is a pointless exercise.  As a nation of 310 million, we are outnumbered 20-to-one in the world’s global economy, and a majority of those others are more than happy to do whatever work there is for a fraction of what an American can score by simply sitting back and drawing welfare.   

We can’t, as some advocate, bring back work by simply walling ourselves off from the world through restriction on trade and global manufacturing, because the sad truth is we just don’t possess either the raw materials or the financial resources to go it alone.

So what’s the magic answer that will fix all this, without, of course, causing us pain?  I don’t think there is one.  I do know our leaderships’ current path of actively working toward a nation where half the country is on the dole and the rest are working for the government definitely isn’t the answer and is a prescription for real disaster. 

One thing is sure: The effort-free high standard of living that Americans have been conditioned to think of as their birthright is looking very much like a thing of the past. 

John Wilson