On A Serious Note…(That’s Right, I Can Be Serious, Dammit!!)

More than halfway to our destination, the pilot’s voice interrupted our flight as we soared through the mountains.

“Folks, looks like a storm’s brewing. Please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts. Flight attendants, please secure the service carts and return to your seats.  There’s going to be a good deal of turbulence.”

We returned to our seats, terrified.  Everyone was quiet as the plane started to tremble and shake.  Somewhere in the back of the plane, a baby started crying.  BAM!  The plane began a fast descent, losing altitude rapidly before recovering.  Suddenly the lights go out.  Pandemonium breaks out as the flight attendants jump up and begin shouting questions and instructions all at once into the darkness.

As if from on high, the pilot’s voice comes back over the intercom and announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is just too hard.  We’re going to turn the plane around and go back to where we started.  Then, we’ll swap out the flight attendants and try a different route.

And scene!  The preceding is my theatrical take of the GOP’s Pledge to America.  I love this document…I think this is a well crafted, refreshingly decisive, beautifully conservative manifesto of an invigorated organization that is focused and determined to be the new guard in Washington.   It is almost poetic.

But poetry is not politics.  And politics are not plans.

This document does not consider the reality, the enormity, the psychology of our economic situation.  Famed finance guru Dave Manuel put together a quick synopsis of previous recessions and recovery times.  The conclusion:  the shortest, mildest recessions took the country on average of six years to restore key indicators to pre-recession levels – starting when the recession ended.  I think everyone would agree that, if latest recession has ended, it certainly didn’t end long ago.  I’m more inclined to agree with history and independent economists – it’s gonna take as long as its gonna take.  Recovery of the job market is not going to happen soon regardless of what party is at the helm.  Period.

This simple tidbit lends the GOP’s Pledge to America about as much credibility as Lindsey Lohan’s rehabilitation.  Sure, it sounds like a good game, even goes through all of the steps but, at the end of the day, with the same conditions and the same Washington politics, we’ll still be strung out…er, strung along in the same way.

Let’s stop looking at rates for a minute and look at discrete jobs.  According to MSNBC, there are “14.9 million out of work and looking for jobs.”  Closing the gap would require several quarters of economic growth.  This is more than a notion.  They go on to say that jobs would need to be created at the rate of 125,000 per month.  With that rate being the only factor, full recovery is nine years away.  Maybe that theory is right, maybe not…but it certainly sounds more realistic than the expectation that recovery could happen in a matter of months.

Both parties need to quit playing and focus on the things we can control to engender economic growth.  A strategy based solely on job creation is a gross oversimplification of the factors that brought us to this crisis point in the first place.  Our economy has been on the decline since late 2007.  We are a beleaguered nation, mentally exhausted from the constant pounding of a sensationalized political fight that uses our fear and our ignorance as weapons against us to swing the tide at will.

There are some complicating factors to our current economic situation.  Skittish companies started jettisoning jobs rapidly in 2007.  Since then, worker productivity has drastically increased as workers improved their performance to keep jobs that were perceived to be hanging on by a thread. As a result, the jobs that were lost are indeed lost.  Regardless of how much you lower taxes — they are simply not needed anymore.  To further that pain, the latest recession was the final death knoll for a good number of manufacturing industries in the U.S.  Going forward, the focus will be on high-tech manufacturing in addition to the good ole American manufacturing stronghold e.g. agriculture.  Our learning curve in the high tech areas is high.  We are lagging behind Asian countries in these areas that require highly skilled workers.  We may have to face the reality that our manufacturing contribution to the GDP will just be smaller until we close the gap.  That doesn’t sound like growth to me…but sometimes I’m hard of hearing.

We need a focused effort on re-educating and re-training the American workforce in order to make ourselves more competitive for the new jobs in the new sectors in the new economy.  This is going to be a tremendous hurdle given our abysmal world rankings in public education and our overwhelmingly skittish corporations who are waiting for consistent demand before hiring.

The truth is this current administration seems to have largely ignored the sense of urgency of the American people.  We’ve spoken and spoken consistently.  Our primary concern is unemployment.  Not just unemployment but unemployment nonetheless.  Among other things, we want jobs.  Obama and his team look like they’re doing everything under the blue sky except creating jobs.  But I don’t believe they’re ignoring the very issue that is driving the success…or failure of this entire presidency.  The problem is they haven’t been forthcoming or realistic about their capabilities to begin with.  Change is coming, yes, but not now and not soon.  I think they’re doing everything in their power but I also think they’re powerless.  Ask anyone who’s given birth, it’s going to take as long as it going to take.   But reality doesn’t win election when folks are scared, hope does.  Just as the Democrats did in the 2008 elections, the GOP are now seeking to corner the market on change.

Lesson learned:  we don’t need any more promises or pledges.  We need a plan and we need patience and perseverance.  We need real participation from a bi-partisan Congress that is accountable to the American people to work together.  Changing the guard at this point will just change the Party of No moniker from the Republicans to the Democrats.

Go vote, America.  Vote to stay the course.  Research your local candidates and vote only for those candidates, regardless of affiliation, with a willingness and a proven record of abandoning party politics and working toward a common goal of an America restored to greatness and stability, regardless of what party is in charge.  Restore control to the American people.  Restore accountability for cooperation to Congress.  Demand answers from the current administration. Stalk your local politicians.   Be the boss of them.  Vote. Vote. Vote.

And turn off the damn T.V.

And ask more questions about Ron Brown (and if I disappear for asking too many questions about Ron Brown…then ask lots of questions about me.)

OK, the last two were just personal preferences.

But always remember – “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”

Now, we return you to your regular programming already in progress….

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11 thoughts on “On A Serious Note…(That’s Right, I Can Be Serious, Dammit!!)

  1. A strategy based solely on job creation is a gross oversimplification of the factors that brought us to this crisis point in the first place.
    … worker productivity has drastically increased as workers improved their performance … As a result, the jobs that were lost are indeed lost. Regardless of how much you lower taxes — they are simply not needed anymore.

    This captures the heart of the stubborn unemployment rate. Whatever America still manufactures, it can be done without approximately 14 million people who once were necessary. As long as productivity continues to rise, those 14 million aren’t going anywhere except to the breadline. Moreover, many of the new technologies that in former times we might have expected to create new demand for labor can be produced better-faster-cheaper by robots than by people. All that takes is a cluster of engineers, a few bean counters, one IT tech and two mechanics per shift to grease the gears. Once upon a time a $2 billion plant would hire 1000 workers. Now it might be 100, and 90 of those at minimum wage. Their jobs? Inspecting the robot manufactured parts for quality control. Yet we do not educate enough engineers. Why is that? you might ask. Arguably it’s because our schools can barely teach arithmetic to 6 year olds much less inspire the curiosity and enthusiasm necessary to raise a new generation of inventors. Meanwhile the pols are “fixing” education (especially in Texas) by cooking the history books and teaching creationism as an elective alternative to science. Perhaps I’m mistaken and business will demand a horde of creationists to engineer the future. Meanwhile a lot of 55 year olds suspect they (WE!) will never work again. Given these realities, it should be clear the GOP “plan” is all hot air and absolutely zero in practical prescription.

    Just as the Democrats did in the 2008 elections, the GOP are now seeking to corner the market on change…. Changing the guard at this point will just change the Party of No moniker from the Republicans to the Democrats.

    That’s because not a single one of these birds have a clue. We have reached a point where our problems cannot be legislated away.

    I’ve had it with “change.” I want to see reform.

    • So, basically we need a new industrial revolution, have 14.9 unemployed people who will need to be re-educated in order to participate and a completely ill-equipped system of education for the learning and innovation that will be required to meet the need. And that’s the good news.

      I still say that the green industry is the best opportunity for growth for the American scientific/engineering community. We could take over that industry, exploit it all up to be damned, hire some kids in Mauritania to stay home from school and turn old bottles into notebooks for 12 cents a day and then outsource the whole operation to Sri Lanka…y’know, the American way. [sniff] I’m getting all teary-eyed…

  2. If only other countries would open their borders so that we as Americans could follow the companies that out source the jobs. There was a time when many flocked to USA for work and better opportunities. USA allowed them to become citizens with full rights and priviledges. I am just wondering if I could ever own land, vote and fully participate in the growth and future of another country???
    Love your comments and would love to host you as a guest here in OKC.

    • Thanks for the comment, Melvin — certainly we have to figure out our place in the global economy. I think you’re spot on thought – the recent economic climate is the result of a perfect storm that we created through many factors. Outsourcing and immigration policies could have indeed played a hand in it. Now, what to do about? Not sure anyone knows but I have to pick a country to which to expatriate, then, of course, I’d choose Liechtenstein.

  3. I apologize in advance Kimchi not sure of reply post etiquette and have never done so before, but your article was so balanced and Refreshing you jogged something loose. I looked up and this reply was quite long please let me know if i need to keep it shorter. J.R.
    —————————————————————————————————–
    I’ll call this “REWARDS”

    Excellent read and to the point. The fact that this was a Re-Post makes it only more spot-on in regard to the gridlock we see in D.C.

    My reply starts ten yrs ago:

    I remember a feeling I had on 9-12-11 while sitting on the hood of my car in a CT Turnpike Rest Area, waiting for the 6 people i picked up in Baltimore, where the future love of my life was stuck. She was a friend i had just met and she flew to Baltimore the morning of 9-11 So I drove from RI and I told her to gather as many people from New England as she thought I could fit in my car, so off to Baltimore I went on the night this country was forever changed.

    So everyone is in the rest area on i-95 in CT and I sat smoking sitting on the trunk of my car and for the first time felt the enormity of what happened in the last 24 hours. I cried as the traffic on I-95 was somewhat back to normal. What I saw was every tractor trailer with the signs on the side mostly dedicated to our consumption. All I could think was SIGNS , SIGNS, and more SIGNS. pushing the products we so covet and crave. We truly are a nation of consumers. and we had been “REWARDED” for that for years and until 2007 that house of cards stood just waiting for a swift gust to make it tumble.

    You Wrote:
    “Both parties need to quit playing and focus on the things we can control to engender economic growth. A strategy based solely on job creation is a gross oversimplification of the factors that brought us to this crisis point in the first place. Our economy has been on the decline since late 2007. We are a beleaguered nation, mentally exhausted from the constant pounding of a sensationalized political fight that uses our fear and our ignorance as weapons against us to swing the tide at will.”

    I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote, but differ on the timeline of our decline. Our economy has been on the decline the moment it started to climb out of the doldrums which were the 70’s.

    Ronald Reagan the PROPHET of the right, said in his 1981 inaugural speech :

    “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems — government is the problem.” The almost psychotic dedication by the Right to that one sentence, in my opinion lies at the root of much of the grid lock we see in D.C. today.

    What the Right conveniently forgets is what Reagan said just after that oft quoted sentence:

    “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work — work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back.” I’m not sure he achieved that.

    Will Bunch writes in his book “tear Down The Myth” writes about that speech
    “But its the first message — that there is no government solution to any problem, no matter how complex — that has been hammered home by the powerful right-wing infrastructure, most notably talk radio and now the highly rated Fox News Channel on TV, that has endured and grown since Reagan’s tenure in office.”

    I believe there is a very powerful right wing machine in media but don’t be naive, the Left has the same weapon. perhaps they try to be “Nice” while wielding their weapon of choice, a weapon nonetheless.

    The current generation that is coming into power, my Generation, i’m 44 is lacking any type of reference to what life is like “Without.” Every generation for a hundred yrs has had it “Better” than the previous, however my generations “better” was based on a new concept: you can have it all and give up nothing.

    9-12-11 for me was a wake up call when I saw all those trucks driving to the thousands of shopping centers that had popped up weekly, to deliver the “REWARDS” we received for turning a blind Eye to what took place in this country since 1981 through Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2, when that “Swift Gust” Finally arrived and the house of cards came tumbling down.

    What we as citizens of this “Republic” did was to allow our government to cede control to special interests. I believe that the engine of our economy is the people willing to take risks and be true entrepreneurs, and they should be rewarded, for creating jobs. That’s not the people who were given the power. We the people of the this great country have been complicit in the cause of where we find ourselves today. I here the terms “Shared Sacrifice” and “Class Warfare” it’s bullshit. What we need is to Collectively wake up and realize that changing the top marginal tax rate from 35% to 39.6% is going to fix things. 39.6%? hmm? Because that is the rate that will do the most good? NO BECAUSE IT SOUNDS BETTER THAN 40%. I do believe it should be raised BTW. So should my rate.

    I’ll finish by saying, that maybe the way out of this “horrible” recession is to expect less and not look to be “REWARDED” for consumption, and Realize “Shared Sacrifice” is where the true “REWARD” will be found. I think we will still be able to get the nice things if we pay a bit more in taxes and possibly lift millions in our own country out of crippling poverty at the same time.

    J.R. – John Robinson

    • Welcome, J.R…your response isn’t too long at all. Sometimes, you just gotta get it all out!

      I share some of your sentiments — here’s another post from a while back https://kimchiandcollardgreens.com/2010/02/23/the-american-dream-is-reserved-for-the-underemployed/

      I think that both Reagan and Bunch use very strong language when talking about the government’s role in problem solving. I think gov’t can be effective at problem solving. But, in my opinion, we haven’t got the right level of gov’t involvement AND we’re not focusing them on the right problems. For instance, let’s take the feds — there is a distinct purpose for the federal govt. I certainly don’t want states taking the matter of defense into their own hands. The problem is when we try to establish a federal case for issues that really belong to the states, or even municipalities, like education. Ridiculously, there’s even been talk lately about the feds getting into anti-bullying campaigns. WTF??? Talk about killing an ant with an Uzi! We’ve gotta set the accountability at the right level of govt in order for it to be able to solve problems.

      • I’m certainly on board that we need less federal govt in the sense that it needs to work, and if that means more states rights so be it. The debate over the role of the Federal govt vs the state is exactly the debate that led to the compromise which became our Constitution.
        The point i was trying to make is that the Left’s Mantra of “Shared Sacrifice” and the Right’s “Class Warfare” just pisses me off to no end. Neither side believes in what they are saying. Shared Sacrifice to Obama means increasing the highest marginal rate, to Pre-Bush rates. How is that shared sacrifice we all got tax breaks under bush didn’t we. “Class Warfare” That’s another Karl Rove word of the month to scare the shit out of the people who only pay attention to the entertainment news like Rush Limbaugh, Lawrence O’donnell etc etc. LOL I look up an see Rev. Al on MSNBC. Shoot me I’m guilty of watching from time to time.
        Thanks for the Reply enjoy Korea. Safe Travels
        J.R.

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