Are Americans better off than they were before the rise of globalization? For those at the top of the socio economic ladder the answer is a clear and resounding yes and for the rest of us times are more difficult. Wages have not kept up with inflation since the early 1970’s. There is greater poverty and homelessness. Anger and bitterness lie just below the surface, while there is greater violence and alienation.
It is hard to compete with countries who have cheap labor, lower environmental standards, that have poor work place safety and are not adverse to hiring childl labor.
What kind of wealth do we have as a country when children go to bed hungry? There are different kinds of wealth. We should not measure wealth just by the amount of accumulated wealth a country has. Do we measure how wealthy we are as a nation by the quality of life that we lead? A rising tide is only lifting the boats of the top 1 and 1/2 percent, and that tide has failed to keep up with the increasing life expectancy of other nations.
We share a world with dwindling resources. Water is being privatized and food engineered by Monsanto. Our children may not be better off financially than the previous generations. The Federal Reserve Board looks at wage inflation as a concern while the middle class struggles to keep up with rising prices and fewer opportunities for good paying jobs.
The American automobile industry has re-tooled and their cars are being sold successfully globally, but the rust belt decays as companies have moved out. Youngstown and other midwest cities are mere shells of their past glory, but southern towns and cities are attracting car manufacturing because factories are being built in right to work states where salaries are lower.
While other countries are building speed rail, our roads and bridges rust and have pot holes. We lag behind the rest of the western world, China and Japan because we claim that we do not have the money to rebuild America.
Our nation still might lead the world in cumulative wealth but are average Americans sharing in the success of globalization? Our multinational corporations are doing well, as the world seeks to emulate the American life style, buying things, fancy cars, and building big houses
Instead of outsourcing we should be rebuilding our infrastructure so that we can compete in the global market place. We must educate our young to compete in this new global arena. How well we educate our young is a way we can measure our wealth and resources.
How is progress defined if we make water unaffordable and our environment despoiled because we unravel regulations that have kept our air and water clean and safe. Are we to reduce discretionary spending in the federal budget to the point where we do not have enough people to test our food and the drugs we take when we get sick because we have decided that cutting expenses are more important than maintaining the safety of the people?
As Oliver Goldsmith once said in “The Deserted Village,” “Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey; Where wealth accumulates and men decay” Beware of false gods, and the god of envy and selfishness for you may seek wealth by praying on your cross of gold, but have ashes and decay in return. We have the strongest military in the world, while we have the largest amount of poverty stricken citizens in western society.
I say we work to rebuild America, and in the process we join in the hope that Franklin Roosevelt once had that someday we would have a second bill of rights. A Bill of Rights which guarantee every American a good job and a right to good health. If we do that we will be self sufficient once again, and be wealthy in spirit.