Are the days of economic growth in the USA over? In real terms, the income of the average American worker has not risen in the past 40 years. It takes longer today to fly coast to coast than it did in the late 1950s, and the American educational system has fallen below mediocre. Fewer workers receive employment benefits such as good health insurance and a guaranteed retirement plan than was the case in the 1950s, By most measures, the economic well being of the average American worker is worse now that it was 40 or 50 years ago.
The American economy has expanded quite a bit during the past half century. Why doesn’t the average American worker get the benefits of the expansion? Part of the blame goes to globalization with the resulting drop in American import duties. American workers are now competing with low-paid labor in countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam. Wealthy investors reap the benefits of lower overseas wages, but the average American does not.
It was about 20 years ago that I realized that even so-called professional jobs were being outsourced abroad. One small businessman told me then that his administrative assistant lived in India. Thanks to the internet and cheap international telephone calls, she was able to answer his phone, take care of correspondence, keep track of his calendar, etc. He had never met her in person, but she took care of her duties almost as well as a much higher-paid assistant sitting in the outer office would have been able to do. About the only thing she couldn’t do was to greet visitors.
Do you need to hire a programmer? You don’t need physical contact with the person you hire. A programmer in India can do the job just as well as someone based in the USA or Europe and will work much cheaper.
For decades, large semiconductor companies have not only been doing much of their manufacturing overseas, they have also moved much of their design work offshore. Thanks to the internet, engineers around the world can collaborate on the same design project.
Is it any wonder that so many Americans are disaffected and show that disaffection by voting for candidates who promise simple solutions without considering that those simple solutions may make the situation much worse? Can anyone argue that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are not on the side of the wealthy and would be a disaster for the American worker and a boon to the super rich?
The one presidential candidate who gets things right on wealth distribution is Bernie Sanders. He is completely correct when he says that something needs to be done to stop the government-assisted wealth transfer from the average American worker to the super rich. Unfortunately, that is the only subject on which he is knowledgeable. As David Brooks said on TV on Friday, as best as I can quote him, “Hillary Clinton knows many things. Bernie Sanders knows one thing.”
Yes, Senator Sanders understands very well the economic hardship that so many Americans are suffering, but being president requires being knowledgeable on more than one subject. Senator Sanders seldom talks about foreign policy, crime rates, terrorism, dealing with a dysfunctional Congress, etc., because they are outside of his expertise.
No matter whom we elect as the next president, our economic and educational problems will not be solved. Voters need to also think about the obstructionist members of Congress and make sure that they are not reelected.
In a drastic change of subject, I’m giving away my new novel, Running for President, as a free Kindle download from Monday March 21 through Wednesday March 23. Click on the image of the book’s cover in the left sidebar for more information or click here.