Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Excerpts / comments on Obama's SOTU:
Impact of free trade and globalization:
Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn't always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you'd have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. Maybe you'd even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.
That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I've seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main Streets. I've heard it in the frustrations of Americans who've seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear -- proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.
Obama does not state that this happened as a matter of policy
. A policy that supported free trade. And a policy that he favors.
His solution to the problem?
We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.
Tom Friedman is probably swooning upon hearing those worlds. All we have to do is "out-innovate". Why didn't we think of that during the last 30 years when manufacturing was in decline and wages were stagnant?
Any doubts that Obama is a neoliberal on economics?
To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 -- because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and Republicans, and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.
While these agreements may very well add jobs in places, they will also subtract jobs - but that math is ignored.
If you worked hard, chances are you'd have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. Maybe you'd even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.
So Obama's idea of the the new American Dream is being a company-town factory wage slave.
Obama's American Dream has already been answered:
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
Yes, free trade was a part of the problem but the other contributors were the repeal of Glass-Steagall(1999), the popularity of leveraged buyouts, and the use of the derivatives mechanisms. Before that we had capitalism with a human face. With the end of the cold war, capitalism no longer had to be nice.
What's the solution? I think that GM may be a model. GM was great before and during the cold war era. Then it heading into its long slide. Now, it is back to being a decent, "littler", exemplar company. So, maybe the government should sponsor some companies. How about an American TV manufacturer, a steel manufacturer, or a fabric weaver?
The right is going to scream "socialism". But who cares; they overused the word and killed its potential as a critical objection.