Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ECONOMIC STAGNATION

Let’s start with the understanding that I do not pretend to be an authority on the cause of our economic stagnation, however I do consider myself to be a well-read, concerned citizen. I have a college degree from the University of Illinois and have done some graduate-level work at both the University of Nebraska and the Harvard Business School. Numerous individuals are better versed than I to address my question, “Who is responsible for our economic stagnation?”

It seems our political parties cannot be trusted to address this question fairly, but they are the most vocal in pointing fingers at one another that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is either good or bad. We must remember too that both parties have been deeply involved in the formation and the execution of the Trade agreement, but that gets lost in the bluster.

Clearly there has been a seismic shift in our business structure and foundation over the past twenty years, and currently I suggest that the American manufacturing understructure is currently in a dangerous predicament. Foreign manufacturing facilities have replaced American production simply because the costs of our products were no longer competitive. As a result I suggest that the American social structure is in real danger should we be called upon to address a sudden need to defend our very existence. Our ability to make steel, automobiles, tanks, ammunition, and any number of essential items are now in the hands of foreign lands and companies. For instance, America no longer has a large pool of tool and die makers, and any number of essential tradesmen, so what will we do if suddenly we require those trades?

I propose that there are many causal factors and some of them are off-springs of greed, in addition to having a strong economy for a long period of time which prevented our leadership (business-unions-government) to have a realistic view of future necessities. While there are several other examples, just consider the fact that high labor costs, unrealistic benefit and health insurance programs, and poor quality products did in our Big-Three automobile companies, and many other industries. Cheap foreign wages attracted many businesses to move off-shore. Who is really responsible?

I suggest that we consider our many University Business Schools, such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Harvard Business School, and any number of equally celebrated MBA programs hold some degree of responsibility. They have been touting Globalism for many years, and now we are reaping the results of their teaching. Obviously they are not totally to blame, because our major investment houses and banks have been promoting Globalism for a long time, too. Don't forget that many of those business leaders are products of those same MBA programs.

Several important Congressional Committees have had their hands deep into this issue, and we have seen several significant officials run for cover when their actions caused huge economic consequences. Both Houses of Congress are strong on taking credit in good times and invisible when it comes to accepting responsibility, so I do not look to them to solve my concerns.

Just maybe we are not looking at the correct place to determine the positive or negative effects of NAFTA. I suggest it is well past the appropriate time to determine if we can address our production needs should we be required to defend our country should another global confrontation occur. Could we buy bombs from foreign governments at reasonable costs or steel from Japan or Europe without causing an economic collapse? These are hard questions that require both attention and solution. Tool and die makers cannot be created over-night, but we best be prepared for any eventuality. I do not hear any discussion such as I have raised going on in the Halls of Congress or any where near the White House. Have you?

Why is all the educational emphasis on getting a College or University degree, and so little promotion of trade schools? Everyone cannot be, nor should they be
Graduate’s of elite educational institutions. Somebody has to fix our cars, repair our shoes, repair our plumbing, build our homes, build our ships, operate retail business, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those honorable essential trades.

Who is really thinking about these important questions? I am, and our leaders should be too, because solutions are fundamental to addressing our long-term economic security. Hopefully, someone will start an honest effort to meet these necessary challenges to our security and long-term quality of life. It is now past the time to remember what we learned in the Boy Scouts…BE PREPARED.

COMMANDER GRANGER

1 comment:

Ensign EP said...

A recent email forward caught my eye - Made in the USA. It listed all the different products that consumers purchase on a regular basis. It was shocking how everything from light bulbs to toothpaste are being manufactured outside of the US. Think you're buying American when you purchase GE lightbulbs? How about Made in Mexico? I urge everyone to read those labels - even for your inexpensive purchases like toothpaste and lightbulbs...very enlightening :)