Saturday, May 10, 2014

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

Those of you have been following my writings for the past 11years know that my overriding concern has been the loss of good paying manufacturing and service jobs since the end of what I referred to as “The Golden Age of America” which was the 30 plus years after WWII. The demise started with the rise of OPEC with that group raising the cost of oil 10 fold, this plunged the entire mature countries into chaos but more importantly the challenge written by Louis Powell in 1971 which galvanized Corporations to descend on Washington with money and lobbyists. They have been eminently successful. In addition to writing I have also read extensively many books pointing out the great changes that have resulted in the loss of many millions of jobs which started going to Mexico but then to China, the rest of the Far East and India. Other nations have also benefited. I have heard many responses from knowledgeable people that the wage gap was the answer and that the loss was inevitable and non-reversible. They are wrong. I might add that they are the ones who flock to Wal-Mart and reap the benefit of low cost not caring a whit about the loss to Americans who want to be able to earn sufficient to adequately support their families. This book exposes those foreign countries that take advantage of our weak leaders in Congress by providing all sorts of benefits including building factories, providing low cost energy as well as allowing their own people to be exploited with unsafe working conditions and few benefits. More importantly the Chinese government undervalues the value of their dollar called “Yuan” which makes all other countries exports more expensive and China’s exports cheaper. This is in direct violation of the World Trade Association agreement they signed when they were allowed to join which was to allow their currency to float on the world market. The book is easy to read, not pontificating like some. Taken a Chapter at a time you will learn all you need to know to become part of the solution and not just the victims we all are today. I have provided a few of his statements below; Lee Scott, the President of Wal-Mart was paid $17.5 million in 2005. That was 900 times the average wage of the employees. Fifty- nine thousand factories were closed in the last decade and manufacturing employment was reduced from 17.1 million to 11.8 million from 2001 to 2011. Corporate America is hoarding $1.9 trillion in cash and expanding its overseas operations. In 2008 American households lost $11.1 trillion of their wealth. The personal debt of American consumers went from several hundred billion dollars in 1959 to $12.2 trillion in 2011. The top 1% made $1.35 trillion in 2007. They reaped 93. 5% of the total gains for the country. Alan Greenspan endorsed President Reagan’s deregulation programs and further encouraged home owners to withdraw equity from their homes to stimulate the economy and he believed the banks would self-regulate. He was wrong on all counts. Wal-Mart pressured Rubbermaid to shift operations to China. They did this to many other companies as well. I won’t enter a doorway of a Wal-Mart store. At Long Beach Harbor we bring in $36 billion of manufactured goods from China every year and ship out $3 billion in raw materials for the most part, just like a third world country. Cooper Tire invested $70 million in production facilities in China with the understanding that everything produced was to be shipped to the United States and Europe. This is the company that offered me a job in 1981. 3.9 million jobs in finance, IT, human resources and business support were sent to India from 2000 to 2010. It is estimated that one-quarter of all jobs in the U.S .are vulnerable to be off-shored. George Bush’s wars cost trillions and required a defense budget of $200 billion more than the height of the Cold War. I listed the above to whet your appetite. Trust me there is much more to get your attention. As an addendum to this report I will provide a list of other excellent books on this subject for recommended reading. This new book however is the best of them all. I find that I am in total agreement with his research and conclusions. In his chapter ‘Reclaiming the Dream”, he provides a blueprint on what steps must be taken; 1-Infrastructure Jobs to Compete Better 2-Push Innovation, Science, and High-Tech Research 3-Generate a Manufacturing Renaissance 4-Make the U.S. Tax Code Fairer 5-Fix the Corporate Tax Code to Promote Creation at Home 6-Push China to Live up to Fair Trade to Generate Four Million Jobs in the United States 7-Save on War and Weapons 8-Fix Housing and Protect the Safety Net Finally and most importantly he tells us that to reclaim our Democracy we must become involved not just by voting since with the huge sums being given by Corporations, no matter who we vote for the dream will not be restored. We must join together, become activists. He points out where demonstrations by citizens have proven successful throughout the world including America in the 60’s. One request I have is for you to check out Senator Bernie Sanders Constitutional Amendment Proposal Called “The Saving American Democracy Amendment”. You can find his 12 minute speech to the Senate on U-tube or Google. Also by typing in Hedrick Smith you can listen to a 90 minute speech he gave based on this book. Well worth your time. Addendum Recommended reading; The Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson American Empire by Andrew Bacevich After the Empire by Emmanuel Todd The General’s War by Michael R. Gordon The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman Take This Job and Ship it by Senator Byron L. Dorgan The New American Story by Bill Bradley Where Have All the Leaders Gone? by Lee Iacocca The Assault on Reason by Al Gore The Long Road Home by Martha Raddatz Brothers by David Talbot The Idea that is America by Anne-Marie Slaughter Failed States by Noam Chomsky Her Way by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama The Energy Non-Crisis by Lindsey Williams Free Lunch by David Cay Johnson Perfectly Legal by David Cay Johnson Bad Money, Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism by Kevin Phillips The Post Corporate World by David C. Korten When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten America and the World by David Ignatius Soil Not Oil by Vandana Shiva Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin Screwed by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann The Post –American World by Fareed Zakaria The Party is Over by Mike Lofgen The Fine Print by David Cay Johnson 1% Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes The Chicken Trail by Kathleen C. Schwartzman The reasons I listed the above are to make the point that many knowledable writers have attempted in recent years to inform Americans of the decline in our opportunities to improve our lives. Certainly elected officials must have had the same opportunity to become informed as did I. You also had the opportunity as you all received free copies of my “Last Angry Man” books. All of the above were reviewed by me in those books. So it is not lack of knowledge that keeps positive change from happening, it is lethargy and an attitude of “why fight city hall” that has kept Americans silent. Only all of us committing ourselves can bring about the change that is required if this great experiment in Democracy is not to end in total failure. Jack B. Walters May 10, 2014

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