Thursday, January 7, 2010

An Uneasy Feeling

This is a very significant column from Bob Herbert of the New York Times. I have read things like this, countless times, but what I find noteworthy is the venue. For the first time I can remember in this current crisis, someone from the mainstream media is admitting that "this society is in deep, deep trouble". Herbert outlines that this past decade's economy was a "phantom economy" (my term), in which no new jobs were actually created. In fact, there has been no net job creation in ten years. Middle-class families also actually earned less than they did ten years ago.

I do concur with Herbert that some deep outside-the-box thinking is necessary to bring jobs back. I am just not sure what that outside-the-box thinking would consist of, and do disagree with Herbert on his thinking on where the next wave of jobs ought to come from. I do think the "green economy" is a lot of hot air (oh, jobs are being created, as promised by Obama, just not in America. A project to build a wind turbine farm in Texas has the wind turbines coming from China, with only temporary construction jobs for the local labor force), and we are a day late and a dollar short in pursuing an economy based on developing alternative fuels (due to global problems in oil production and a lack of capital to fund such projects). While Herbert concedes that it will be tough to "rebuild our manufacturing mojo", I find it a feat close to impossibility, as one of the fundamental mandates of business is to save on labor costs. As I've written in the past, it's my belief that only oil prices approaching the stratosphere can result in a resurgence in domestic manufacturing, and by then, the economy can well be on a collision course anyway.

Anyway, to continue with the review/summary, Herbert is dead on with the health care bill. So much time has been spent on this, and what has come out has amounted to a giveaway to the HMOs. Other than his thinking on where our jobs are coming from, I pretty much agree with him on everything. I'm just startled to see a column like this in "the paper of record". It's also a pretty effective indictment of the Obama administration, which continues to disappoint. I really am beginning to see him as the next Carter (although I don't see him staying on the scene, doing good works as Carter has), with a resurgence of the Right in 2012 (with a candidate like Palin, heaven help us).

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