I've thought for a long time
that as our manufacturing sector was moved out of the country to take
advantage of lower wages, the inevitable result would be a huge loss of
jobs - ones that could not be replaced by "high value" white collar-type
And it would lead to lower domestic wages, in order to
compete. But wages could never be low enough because the standard of
living would keep workers below the
poverty line. The result: two classes - those who could afford and those
who couldn't. Actually, there would be a small financial ruling class,
kind of the way things are pointing now. And with such a large number
of people out of work, working below the poverty level, living off
government benefits, sooner or later there will be revolt. Not colonial
revolt, because the founders were all comfortable. There will be an
economic revolt when there's nothing left to lose. You can look it up.
This is not a new idea. James Goldsmith, himself a billionaire, blew
the lid on this in 1993 in a book called "The Trap." In 1992, Ross
Perot saw it coming, with that feisty Martian brain of his. You could
hear the wisdom in his words, but how could you possibly vote for him?
I thought, well, if our workers are losing, workers overseas will
prosper, making our wages more competitive again. Maybe but it won't
have the kind of impact to restore jobs to what they were in the best of
times. There's always going to be somebody to do it a little cheaper.
It's the global, financial ruling class that will thrive.
Goldsmith had another thought, and he saw it clearly. Regions, like
Europe, or Asia or North America, or maybe just the US, would have to
create preferential zones. It's not a new idea. Europe did have the
Common Market. But mostly these are seen as trade barriers, and free
trade is the orthodoxy of economic theory. But it's not really free,
because within the system, countries can rig their currencies; their
labor laws; their human rights standards to keep their costs lower.
Australian billionaire, Gina Rinehart, can scold her countrymen for not
being willing to work for the wages a South African would accept. No
skin off her wallaby.
So, back to Goldsmith. There do need to
be trade preferences - which still look like barriers to me - to protect
one's own economic unit. And, by the way, our farmers are really
missing the Mexican seasonal workers. I say that just to suggest who is
and is not in our own economic unit.
Neither of the two
parties will own up to this, for different reasons, and no conventional
politician will broach this subject. On the one hand, that politician
would never stay in office. On the other, he or she may be shot on the
way to work.
If there is a real answer to our struggling
economy, it is borne in the wisdom of Goldsmith, which means, in effect,
we have to circle the wagons, protect our own jobs, create our own
trade preferences and hope that we can make our economy secure and our
politics rational. It's kind of what I was thinking.