A Free Country Makes Most of What It Needs
One of the trite cliches that people who believe in the myth of a free market use when looking down their noses at those caught in financial difficulties is: “You can’t borrow your way to prosperity.”
They especially love to apply this to the government and its deficit spending.
While this would seem to be true, it’s not always so. Sometimes, credit is the only way to expand your business, add resale value to your home, or keep an old car or truck running while you make money. In the case of the government, borrowing may allow the construction of infrastructure that benefits everyone, thus leading to more tax revenues and a net reduction in the deficit. It’s a matter of having a reasonable plan and being able to adjust the plan as circumstances change.
A much more important truism is:
“You can’t buy your way to prosperity.”
When America’s largest employer was General Motors and the unions there and at so many other manufacturing or related industries were strong, we had a standard of living second to none. The middle class was large and growing. Government, for-profit, and public benefit organizations worked together and separately to give that middle class what it needed.
Somewhere along the way, the Powers That Be decided to make us a consumer society, a country based on retail and credit, rather than a manufacturing society based on making what we needed and wanted. The transition from General Motors to Walmart, from the industrial plant to the retail store, has destroyed the middle class.
Many of us believe this destruction was planned, as you can’t amass so much of the wealth and income and political power in so few hands (as we have seen today) if We the People are awake and aware. The wealthiest of the elites will always seek to control as much of the wealth and power as they can, to corrupt the government of the people for their narrow aims. Politicians will always be corruptible, as the sort of person who is most successful as a politician is one attracted to power and influence. We the People have to stay informed and active to keep their corruption in check.
Is it possible to retrace the steps that brought us from a manufacturing behemoth to a creditor nation? Or have we gone too far down the road of a consumer society?