Thursday, June 14, 2012

Notes: 6.14.12

The Oregon coast  is still cool and sometimes rainy in June- but that did not deter the  Childers family- the family of Judy's mother (Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Nieces, Nephews, Inlaws and Outlaws),  from gathering for a reunion, in a beautiful Quaker camp near Twin Rocks beach...  It was a fine varied group that came together to share stories and music, laughter, competitions, walks on the beach, great food,  and following a "tradition", we brought white elephants to auction off - the proceeds go toward financing the next reunion in three years...It was great fun but too brief!
Beach littered with winter driftwood - twilight

---Now for something more serious...
Are you concerned about the challenges to the world economy that have been surfacing recently?  This week I want to connect some dots that help explain the situation for me.

For the moment forget the whole partisan divide about how to fix the economy.  Before we can find a solution we have to be honest about the situation we are in. 

Twin Rocks Beach -one rock has a sea cave
 Here are some facts:

1.  The population of the US is currently over 311 million people.  In 2000 we had 281.4 million, and 1990 248.7 million people.  Each year there are many more people needing employment.

2.  US companies are instituting efficiency programs, which require fewer workers to accomplish the same or greater output. Computer automation, robots for assembly tasks, streamlined procedures... Major cause of layoffs... Even my supermarket has scanner/computer units for self check out of groceries - no humans clerks required.

Mt Shasta from 30,000 ft. 
3.  Where do Americans go to buy tools, appliances, food, and clothing? When you are short of money you go to Wal-Mart, Chain stores, cut rate stores.
And where is most of their merchandise produced: China, Latin America, other parts of the second and third world countries.
Why is this so? Workers will accept salaries far belong US minimum wages.
Bottom-line: Not as many American workers are needed, fewer people are employed, they shop where its least expensive, which sends profits to companies abroad ( often American based companies ).  This pattern does not support American business growth at home.
Central Oregon countryside
4.  American capitalism has accomplished incredible growth in the past because American products, available no where else,  were much in demand by people of our world. Two problems:  
a.  Now other countries are developing and marketing products much desired by the rest of the world.
b.  For years we believed that a healthy economy was marked by increased profits each year.  How long can that be sustained?
The prime motivation of a company is to maximize profits.    It makes good financial sense to go where wages and raw materials are cheapest.
The Rogue River in one of its quiet locations

It is a smoke screen to suggest that cutting taxes will benefit American workers. A large business owner, receiving a tax cut knows that it makes business sense to reinvest profits where you can hope for the greatest returns– investment in your overseas operations or simply bank it. – Every legitimate study proves over and over again that  “trickle down” economics does not result in benefitting the middle class or wage earning workers, ...It stays in the pockets of the 1%.
Portland from the Williamette River

So why do some political parties advocate for higher taxes when it won’t help the economy?  Big business knows that the best way to get favorable legislation is to have “favorable” legislators  in your pocket, dependent on campaign contributions.  Persistent lobbyists actually write the legislation bills and give them to complicit politicians to present and support in Congress. Today there are 12,553 lobbyists active in Washington DC - paid to influence the outcome of legislation!

How we got to Oregon - Good old Southwest Airlines
Where can we begin to address the problem ?  Educate yourself - Keep informed – read and listen to a wide range of input... Read your news critically... When I read an editorial - the first thing I ask is "Who wrote it?" and "What interest do they have in the matter?"  Keep a healthy amount of suspicion of news sources... Many people have been conditioned to think that Fox news has some special handle on "accurate reporting" ... by all impartial studies show that its programming is determined by extreamist owners  - out of touch with traditional Republican values. This source helps me to understand  Fox in perspective:

At the end of the reunion - everyone was reluctant to leave ...

Give of your time and money. Engaging with others  with whom you do not agree is an art and a challenge... Learn to listen  and hear what the other is saying.  Learn to present your ideas tactfully but clearly.  If you put the other person on the defensive you have lost.  Get a sense of when to keep quiet.

We vote every time we buy something - Do your purchases support the future of the American economy and American jobs or are you supporting the growth of China, Mexico, and other cheap labor markets...?

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