A snapshot of how the U.S. is viewed by some credible evaluators includes items reported byThe Economist . The World Economic Forum downgraded the U.S. from second to fourth place in global competitiveness compared to other industrial nations to begin 2011. It also ranked America 40th among nations for the quality of its institutions, 54th in public trust of its politicians, 68th in regard to government efficiency and 87th for its macroeconomic environment. America’s own Brookings Institution, a liberal-leaning think tank, surveyed American business leaders and found that 33% think “instability of the policy framework” set by government is a major obstacle for business. For comparison sake, that figure was 14% in France and 5% in Chile.
Recent decades’ data show trends about America’s goods-producing
sectors that are not healthy and which the governing class refuses to recognize
as cause-and-effect based. This is mostly due, in my view, to approaches that
stress class-warfare, anti-business regulation and big deficit-spending
policies enacted by Congress during the few years of the current
Administration. The percent of employed labor in goods producing, per the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, has steadily declined (measured in June of each
year) from 36.1% in 1965 to 22.4% in 1988, 19% in 2000, 14.3% in 2009 and 12.9%
Since June 2000, 7,694 million (M) U.S. jobs have been eliminated
with only 3,840 M in durable-goods production – only 49.91% of the total. From
June 2000 through June 2011, goods-production employment is the only sector
that has declined in the U.S. economy while increases occurred in all others,
including: leisure and hospitality, utilities, health services, transportation,
wholesale trade and government, which showed the largest numeric growth of all
These are distressing facts, but why and what to do about it are
more relevant questions regarding this worsening condition. A 2005 study by
Citigroup analysts is cogently correct in citing the “plutonomy” issue – the
U.S. rich, the rest and the verses that politicians articulate so often when
trying to polarize class warfare. But there is much more than economic
stratification as a societal driver.
Equity markets and
housing values have been volatile since 2007, so the current recession has
pressed harder on the middle and lower classes of society. One in 12
non-manufacturing jobs has vanished; one in six blue-collar jobs in production,
craft, repair and machine operations vanished in the past three years. There
has been rising pay at the top and falling wages among less-educated workers.
The stable 17 to 19 M people employed in industry from 1960 to 2000 shrank to
make the U.S. the number-two manufacturer and third agricultural nation on the
planet in 2010. A look at demographics tells us why: 22-29% of all U.S. jobs
will, or has the potential to, move overseas in the next two decades as both
trade balances and technology will substitute foreign for U.S. workers. The
biggest blow will be to those with inadequate job training and education.
This is not an
argument for more college graduates, which make up only 30% of the U.S. population,
but for greatly enhanced education at every level. Family
dysfunction is a primary indicator of this job problem. Among less-educated
women, 44% of births occur outside of marriage and 54% occur among high-school
dropouts. However, only 6% of college-educated women available for work had no
job or children with no job. America cannot prosper with an unprepared labor
pool of feral children with no means to learn the roads to success.
Our national job problems are directly related to the existence
of flash mobs of undisciplined young people stealing and destroying urban
shopping malls. It is an urgent national need that family guidance, installing
value systems in children and instilling personal responsibility become a
national priority in order to correct the nation’s economic issues. Indeed,
recovery from this recession is in large part a matter of changing the life
path of the workforce and not endorsing and continuing the failed education
systems that cannot ensure or foster the American dream.
I contend that the solution to our economic recovery and to the
resurgence of manufacturing authority on the world stage mostly requires a
cultural realignment. America will do very well, thank you very much, if it is
allowed to return to the principles that built the greatest civilization that
has yet passed across the face of this Earth.IH
A Look to the Future
November 3, 2011