Thursday, July 05, 2007

A divided nation

I interrupt my regularly scheduled biking posts for a quick unrelated rant; please note I have no real formal education in this subject area and this is simply my own opinion. If you would like to express a differing opinion please feel free to comment…

It seems to me capitalism and our own economy are driving down the overall standard of living in our country, at least in certain sectors of it and will continue to do so for years to come. Reading through this New York Times article this morning got me thinking about the state of our country, the outsourcing of certain jobs and the future of our economy. Not that any of these are new ideas or are all that astounding, but I think they are imminent and unstoppable with the path we are driving through capitalism.

First as more and more middle class jobs are outsourced and others are replaced by computer programs and machines, there is going to be a huge portion of our nation’s workers that are left floundering in the hole that is left behind. They may not have the creative potential or the training to compete in the ever changing “higher end” work environment and will therefore be left out of the new world economy as replaceable parts. On the other hand since retail and service jobs at the lower end of the economic ladder cannot readily be replaced and certainly cannot be outsourced (until we have robots being operated by technicians in India working at McDonalds) their pay will continue to be eclipsed by the ever advancing high end positions.

We talk about the increasing gap between the richest and the poorest Americans but with our economic system what else would we expect? Not everyone has the ability or opportunity to become a high end worker and unless things within our domestic policy take on some pretty drastic changes we will continue to see an ever widening gap and a dieing middle class to boot. In fifty years when the efficiency of our capitalist economy has eliminated costs (ie payrolls) where are we going to be left? Corporations keep getting larger and larger with ever increasing power, politically, economically and globally.

I guess the ideal situation will be when we finally reach a level of efficiency where costs are so minimal we will no longer need a lot of money to live well. I suppose then no one will have to work and the standard of living will be at an all time high. Maybe then we’ll all be able to have the same low cost goods and services available to us and universal healthcare for everyone. Maybe this is what our corporate ideals will bring us, assuming they don’t ruin our living environment first.

Instead of focusing so much on growing our GDP and making things better for the top half of the income brackets, maybe we should start to think about how to help bring up the bottom half’s standard of living. That of course wouldn’t be economically efficient though, I mean where are the profits in that? Maybe if we could get companies and our country to stop focusing on the short term they would see that bringing up the lower income brackets would produce a larger base and a broader range of customers to cater to. That seems to me like it would provide a much higher potential for growth and income then would saturating their current customers.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled postings.

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