I’m an American, so I will keep this from the perspective of America. In case you’ve been a coma for the past decade or so, let me get you up to speed: the world economy is failing, as the world’s leading economy, America sharpens its decline. Entire countries are failing economically and it seems as though no one has any idea how to correct the problem. Admittedly, I have very limited knowledge of macro-economics or economies in general, but I do have knowledge of fundamental concepts. The problem we face now has a solution that is so simple, that it is hard to believe that these “experts” cannot have realized it on their own. So, since this is about America, the only country I care about, let’s start there.
Before we get too deep into specifics, let me just throw my theory out there, now brace yourself, this will come as a shock: the reason America is declining in the world is because we no longer make PHYSICAL things. We buy and sell money, or just offer services, we have no PRODUCTS (I of course don’t mean that literally, but in comparison to previous countries it’s very small). Let’s go back to the very beginning. Let’s pretend you know nothing, you just find yourself on earth walking around. What do you want? What do you need? Food will most likely be the top priority. So, how do you get food? You either find it or kill it yourself. Okay, now fastforward a few thousand years, now people have settled down and developed agriculture. Your neighbor grows melons and you have chickens. You want a melon, how do you get it? You perhaps barter, give your neighbor some chicken eggs for a melon. Okay, that’s simple enough. Now fastforward a few thousand more years, there are food surpluses. Not everyone has to work around the clock for their survival now that there are larger populations. People now have specified jobs, they can be artisans, or soldiers, or farmers, or so on and so forth. Now, let’s say, the local potter has a nice clay pot you’ve had your eye on. How can you get it? You’re, let’s say, a philosopher or something lame. Instead of a direct barter of products, you have a middleman: currency. Sure, maybe you make pots, but maybe you want something from someone and they don’t want a pot. You can, instead, give him a coin (or whatever) that has a generally accepted value, based on which sort of products it has the power to purchase. Then, being a philosopher (or some other non-physically productive occupation) you can get that pot from the potter even though you have no PHYSICAL product he wants. He can instead take that currency and use it for whatever he wants instead (of equal or lesser value obviously). So, with that in mind, I posit the notion that money is meaningless and indeed valueless when it is not based on physical products; it becomes completely arbitrary. Things are only worth what people are willing to pay for it, you can ask whatever you want as a price, but fundamentally it is worthless unless someone is willing to pay you for it. From this perspective, credit is one of the worst possible ideas for a healthy economy. Why? Simply because it is imaginary money, it is based on nothing. If, as a prehistoric human, your neighbor came up to you and said “hey, I’d like to buy your family’s cow, and in return I’ll give you two cows five years from now” you would say absolutely not! First off, there is never a guarantee you will ever get those cows and secondly you and your family would starve in the interim. That being said, I do understand the genesis of credit and the need for it and certainly there is, in limited cases. Yes, there are businesses that do absolutely need credit: for example, a farmer needs to take out a loan to be able to buy seeds and supply for this year’s harvest. Now, granted, there is no guarantee that his crops will succeed and that he will be able to pay back the loan, but for the love of God, at least he actually has a physical product with potential to have REAL value. In my opinion, there should be no personal lines of credit whatsoever. A person buying a dishwasher they can’t afford is not going to increase their revenue. You, the bank, giving them a loan, is not going to increase that person’s abilities to create revenue and therefore more assuredly pay you back. Credit should only be used as a means to stimulate true production, never to fund an expense. If someone wants to build a factory and bring jobs and create real products, then yes, please, give him a loan, it will go toward furthering the economy. You give credit to individuals, it’s a blackhole. There’s no guarantee you’ll ever get it back and more importantly you should know in the first place that the loan is not increasing the loanee’s chances of paying you back. To simplify: credit should only ever be given in cases that it would induce an increase of productivity and revenue. What would be a better loan to give than one you know will give that person more money? You know they will have the money to repay you. This is another ENORMOUS problem: we create money out of thin air. As was said earlier, money is meaningless unless it is backed by physical products. The government keeps printing more money, the banks keep handing more of it out and it becomes more and more valueless. So, although there are a few examples, the overriding principle simply is that our money is becoming worthless because we have lost sight of what money is. Money is only a representation of the value of physical things, unfortunately, there’s a lot more money going around than physical things. Now to the specifics:
America, one of the youngest countries in the world, an entirely new concept of government, had a meteoric rise to world power. How? The most obvious and simplest answer is geography. The United States is an enormous country in terms of land area. Even more important than this, it has abundant natural resources, to the point where it is almost a self-sufficient country. Next, the government of our country, democracy with a free-market enterprise, encouraged personal wealth and upward mobility. This, in conjunction with the abundant natural resources and a HUGE cheap labor work force (from literally no salary (slaves) to endless hordes of immigrants desperate for any work), lead to America becoming the world’s leading economy. Industry is what made America important. We were able to almost singlehandedly supply the two World Wars, before even actually going to war ourselves. There are certainly other factors that lead to our rise, not the least of which was the inward fighting among the old-world powers of Europe, bleeding them dry and forcing them to import most if not all their essential supplies from America. So, a few things made America great: abundant natural resources, stable business-friendly government, industrial infrastructure, technological development and, yes, being opportunistic. Not to mention, that we were and still are, the world’s bread basket (perhaps our one last hope.)
So, what happened? There’s no drastic event to point to, the only civil war took place in the 1860s, as we were on a steady ascent. If anything, we boomed even more after that, it wasn’t detrimental. We kept on rising, while everyone else kept trying to keep up with us. Industries kept booming, people were employed, the whole world was demanding our products, whether it be agricultural or industrial. So, when did it stop? The best way to answer that question is to simply drive around this country. Drive through formerly booming industrial centers, drive through formerly busy infrastructures. You’ll see it yourself, decaying transportation and industrial infrastructure everywhere you look. The grandest, most ambitious, and yes, boastful accomplishments in this country seem to have come to a close sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. What the hell happened? Most would agree that we reached our ultimate peak right after World War II, when we were basically the only developed country in the world not laid to ruin. But, what happened? That’s not as simple, but there are clear reasons. First off, and I don’t mean to disparage against them, but labor unions ultimately did more harm to the workers than good. Of course, we all agree that workers should have rights, and treated as humans. The only problem is that that is expensive and in business, the bottomline is all that matters (unfortunately). Obviously, a business cannot function without workers (at least until robots become less expensive and more advanced) so the business owner had two choices: give in to the workers’ demands, or, simply move somewhere with people willing to work for less. This is problem number one: our business leaders sold us out, they only thought of their own gains to be made, so they took their business elsewhere, literally. Sent it over to Asia in most cases, likely China, where they have the sort of desperate labor force that we once had. The blame should also rest on our government for this mass exodus of industry, there were plenty of ways that the government could have encouraged industry to stay here, through incentives, subsidies, tax-breaks, tariff adjustments, and so on. This part sounds conspiratorial, but there is not many other explanations. Our government, was created by us (“we the people”) to serve us and our needs. With that as their stated cause, why, would the government allow all our jobs to leave? Simply and sadly, because of complicity with big business. In many cases it’s not even just some sort of loose affiliation with a corporation, often times many of our politicians will be former employees (more often executives) of the very same corporations that are leaving us, the people, unemployed and fighting to survive. Dwight Eisenhower, in his Presidential farewell speech of 1961 warned Americans of the dangers of a “military-industrial complex.” What he was referring to and obviously what he saw happening around him, was a homogenization of business and government, in this case weapons manufacturers. There is such an inherent danger in having the very people that, (at least the general public think so) should be being regulated by our government, be the very ones in the government! How do we expect there to be any justice or actual fairness when the very people that our taking advantage of us all are now running our country. It’s not too far-fetched, maybe this seemed like a conspiracy up until 2008, but now how can you deny it? Big business uses our government as like the rich dad. “Hey dad, had a wild night, lost a lot of money, you think you can spot me another billion dollars?” Let’s face it, our government has become corrupted and now serves no other purpose but to advance already super-wealthy corporations. Listen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with becoming super-wealthy and achieving amazing amounts of success; in fact, if we didn’t have that notion, that all of us could achieve that, then this whole materialistic society of ours would crumble. But, this is different, this is cheating, this is not a free-market economy. They are creating the rules so that they and they alone can succeed. Look at it, folks, where has the innovation gone? Are you kidding me? Back at the end of the 1800s it was an endless stream of new inventions, the pace of technological advancement was astonishing. Let’s put it this way, if this was 1886 and we somehow were aware of the concept of “Global Warming” and how carbon dioxide emissions influence it, you better believe there’d be HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of inventions coming out to replace fossil-fuel burning machinery. So, what else has changed? Again, business intervening in government; take the auto industry for example. This country has been sucking off the auto industry for decades and guess what’s the last thing the auto industry would want? That’s right, a new form of transportation. Free-enterprise is gone. Innovation is dead. These people are withholding from the public all these advancements that are completely and so easily attainable. We won’t get what we want, because that doesn’t make them money. It’s one thing to have businesses out to get us, but when the government takes their side, that’s basically the end, and that’s where we find ourselves right now.
America boomed because: Natural resources, industrial infrastructure, technological advancements, stable business-friendly government, agricultural prowess, and opportunity.
America declined because: Overextensions and abuses of credits, loss of industry, government interference by big businesses and the subsequent retardation of innovation.
So, now that we know everything wrong with the world, or at least some of the most vital points, more importantly how do we move on from here? First off, the current psychology of our country is completely wrong. America has always strived to be the greatest country in the world, in every regard, human rights standards, technology, education, so on. Unfortunately, we now have a very morose and stagnant demeanor. Our goal is to reach a status quo, to get from a deficit to a balance. Sorry, but our goal should ALWAYS be to excel, we should be figuring out ways to be the greatest not to be average! People are too content. Obviously I wasn’t alive during the first two centuries of this country, but I do get the sense that there was always this forward motion to America. People were always looking to the future, the possibilities seemed endless. Everyone seemed to work together for a common goal, to advance humankind. The rate and change of technology, if occurring today, would absolutely blow our minds. But back then, people loved it! It wasn’t scary thinking of the future! The future was going to be amazing, with flying cars and no wars and food for everyone. Clean water and clean cities, open spaces for people to enjoy. More leisure time and an easier life for everyone. Imagine going from only ever having seen a horse as a form of transportation to seeing a train and a car and an airplane all within the span of 30 years or so. We don’t have this notion anymore that we can make drastic shifts. We are all so afraid of real change. We’re all striving for mediocrity, but goddamnit, humanity is about advancement. If you want to stay the same forever then you might as well be an animal. What sets humans apart is our curiosity and insight, when we stop exploring, when we stop wondering, when we stop advancing, we stop being human and we find ourselves in this state of depression and loss of meaning. If you look at what made us boom, there are only a few things we need to change to go back to that. First, obviously, we need to change our attitudes, we need to realize that change is important and if done wisely beneficial to us all. We now have a government that will argue and debate over the smallest minutiae of a proposed bill. The only changes they are willing to make are token gestures of small percentage points. What happened to real change? I mean, imagine going from slavery being legal to illegal today? Ha, would never happen, they’d just debate it for the rest of time. It’d be too much of a shock on the system today to have any real effective change. Alright, so change our personality, we need to start fantasizing about the future again and lose interest in mediocrity. Secondly, we need to bring infrastructure back to America. I don’t care what new legislation or bills you put through, there will never be a real increase in GDP or employment if we are not creating things. I’ll say it again, the most important thing, as a country, that we need to do, is rebuild our infrastructure and become the world’s leading industrial power again. Thirdly, personal credit needs to be eliminated. People have become enslaved to their debts and that is completely encouraged by the government and banks; this is wrong and will never lead to prosperity. Fourth, there needs to be a real and concerted effort of reforming our government. Lobbying needs to be eliminated, as well as donations from anonymous supporters. We need to put people back in power that actually have OUR interest in mind, not big business.
Let’s get to practicality. There are so many ways to go about this. First, an example: cars. In 1890, how many Americans owned a car? Probably less than a hundred. How many people wanted a car or believed they needed a car? Probably close to no one. But what happened? First of all, you had very enterprising businessmen (Henry Ford, etc.) who created new modes of industrialization (mass production, assembly lines, etc.), there also, (which is what makes America so great) was abundant natural resources within close proximity to centers of production. On top of this, all the steps were done in America by Americans. Someone had to mine the iron for the cars, then they had to refine the iron, then they had to shape the iron, then the parts were assembled, then the finished products were sold. Every step along that line, innumerous jobs were created, in this country! But, even more importantly, the government stepped in. Without the government creating infrastructure for this new wonderful product, they would have been useless. Oh and how was the infrastructure created? That’s right, by AMERICANS, gainfully employed MIDDLE-CLASS Americans. Please, stop asking why the middle class is disappearing. How can there be a middle class when there are no middle class jobs? Alright, carrying on, I believe this example of cars is the best for my point, because of how radically new it was, and how readily our government stepped in to support it and help it grow. You literally went from people not even knowing what a car was, or even if they did, they didn’t have any need for it, to within a couple decades, creating an ENTIRE culture based around cars. That’s right, entire INDUSTRIES developed in conjunction with the development of cars. The most obvious being repair shops, but also gas stations, motels, attractions and then further along fast-food restaurants. Now all of a sudden there is a NEED for cars. It’s in our culture now, people no longer work in the town they live in, people no longer stay in the town their family is from. My point is this, what is the last time that our government really tried to spur job growth and to embrace a radically new idea? I can’t think of any in this century. The closest parallel to this would be with telcommunications (the only field which seems to be advancing). Twenty years ago, there was hardly any infrastructure for cell phones or internet, but through government help, we have created a new infrastructure, and granted it is fairly revolutionary, I suppose, (although it’s really more just advancements on previous designs) but at the same time we haven’t gone far enough. Are you aware that the internet could be extraordinarily faster than it is now? The technology is there, but the investment in creating that infrastructure would be immense and would require government assistance. So, why don’t we do that? It would create jobs just by laying wires, then more jobs to service it and the other auxiliary services that would pop up to complement the new technology. This is not the way our government thinks anymore, unfortunately and again, it’s not because they are stupid. That’s the most upsetting part of it all, they are all very smart individuals, they know what they are doing. There is no such thing as “not being able” to pass a bill, they just don’t want to. Why don’t they want to? Because they’re no longer here to benefit the people of this country but only the businesses that they represent. We are at a turning point in world history (realistically we probably always are), we are completely aware of the problems of the future. Remember one of the things that made America boom was opportunity? This is our opportunity folks. We know the dangers the future has in store for us: global warming, rising hunger, lack of water, etc. It is time for our government to step in and start investing money into what will be the future industries. We need to stop trying to figure out how to get back to zero and start figuring out how to excel again. What’s the way? Not just bringing back industry to America, but creating entirely new industries. For example, green fuel sources, let’s fucking replace the internal combustion engine already! It’s almost two hundred years old, holy shit! Let’s start thinking radically people, stop trying to find a new fuel to put into our existing engines. Make a new fucking engine. Stop clinging to the past, but I know the only reason we really are is because of the big businesses interests in our government making sure to stifle innovation. Let’s lead the world in the creation of new green fuel sources and machines. Let’s lead the world in innovation and science. Everyone on the planet at this point, now knows that oil is going to run out and that it harms the environment and that it’s just going to keep getting more expensive. Everyone is ready for the paradigm shift, but let’s be the ones that make it happen. We have become a population of mediocrity-seeking, self-serving, close-minded individuals. We gotta start thinking outside the box again and start believing that things can improve. Don’t listen to the government when they tell you that these new technologies are not cost-efficient or are too far off in the future. That is their own doing. If there wasn’t so much up against new innovations and nascent industries, we would be living in an entirely different and better world right now. There are enough jobs for everyone in this country. We just need to completely shift our focus. Let’s throw Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil to the sharks and start over again for ourselves. Let’s end this feudal society of lords and serfs.
Bottomline: America has declined because of conflicting interests in our government along with a loss of an industrial base.
Solution: Get rid of the nepotism and cancer within our government. Begin funding new technologies and infrastructure.
Look at it this way, right now our country is paying businesses (auto industry) to keep making products no one wants. Here’s a specific example of change: Imagine some inventor out there invents (and undoubtedly it has already been invented for decades but been suppressed) a new form of transportation. It runs on, let’s say, garbage. First off the government needs to stop sucking the dick of failed parasitic industries and embrace the future. Here we go, this guy has his engine, now everyone in the world wants it because it’s so affordable and doesn’t negatively impact the environment. Well, thank god this guy is American and thank god our government embraced his idea. Because he opened up a factory, in America to make the engines. The metal for the engines comes from American mines and processing plants. Next you have all the support industries that come up to maintain the engines and repair them. Then you have all the retail shops selling them. Then you have the new renewable resource that has to be collected and sorted. Every step of the process jobs are created. American jobs.
BOTTOM BOTTOM LINE: We need to be on the forefront of future technologies and not only develop them but create the infrastructure to build on a mass scale. This is the only true and lasting equation for economic progress: Funding for research and development, constantly inventing entirely new technologies, real true competition among businesses, and simply put and most important of all, finally actually producing REAL things again. Until we become a manufacturing superpower again we will never see success. I don’t care how much you try to balance the budget or raise taxes or cut spending. Let’s stop thinking about how to spend less and instead think how to make more.
Footnote: I say all this with a sensitive eye to the environment. I realize that the rapid industrialization and consumption of resources is one of the greatest threats to the environment, but I do believe that we can find economically feasible ways to mass produce again in a sustainable and friendly way. As we go further into the future, I think there will be a higher regard for the sustainability of what we are producing and the environmental impact it has. The future is going to be all about leaving as little impact as possible on the environment. So let’s cash in on that, let’s encourage all our great minds and never ever suppress innovation. It might benefit a few in the short term, but it will always come back to be a curse for us ALL.