The State Of The Union

28 January, 2011

© Pirate Joe

President Obama gave us his assessment of of the state of the union the other day and... I'm yawning. This is truly frustrating... I like this guy, and unlike Rush Limbaugh, I wanted him to succeed. Yet I can't pretend that I like the pro-international ruling-class neoliberal cant I heard last Tuesday. More reinforcement of the “globalisation is a fait accompli, resistance is futile” sort of thing:

One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old.  And she told me she’s earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams, too.  As Kathy said, “I hope it tells them to never give up” ”.

Of course, I applaud this determined woman for pursuing a degree, who wouldn't? But the point of this article is that the ruling class, by sending jobs out of America, has diminished our ability to preserve prosperity and pursue the promise America was built on.

The point is, what this tells you about president Obams's feelings on the matter. Simply that he is not particularly concerned that those jobs are gone and that he doesn't see any particular need to try to get them (or all the boatloads of others) back, or prevent more from going their way. Spoken as a true neoliberal: if you job has been exported, no problem, go back to school and get re-trained for a new, better one. There's only one problem, however: for most of us, we still have to worry about bills (like mortgages or rent), supporting families, etc. long after our jobs have disappeared over the horizon.

Did I miss the American Citizen Bailout And Protection Act of 2009? You know, the one that puts all your debts and obligations on a no interest, no penalty hold when you lose your job. The one that gives you living expenses, re-training counselling, and pays your tuition at the school(s) that will give you the necessary training for that brave new job. No, I didn't miss it... it never happened. Wall Street got bailed out, we got foreclosed.

We needed FDR, but we got Bill Clinton.

Ask yourselves, exactly what do you think was responsible for America's hereto then unheard of rise and success? Was it luck, chance or serendipity? Or, was it due in large part to the fact that we had everything we needed, right here. Did you need metal ores? We had them. Did you need oil? We had it. Did you need farmland, coal, grains, beef, cotton, inventors, ideas, schools, railroads, wood, whiskey, water, kerosene, granite or slate, the list could go on forever but the answer was always the same.... We had it!

As a result, there wasn't much a foreign power could threaten to cut us off from, since we needed to import very little. The result? Our money circulated here at home, spreading prosperity and achievement. Take a drive through Pennsylvania to look at where the steel mills used to be: you'll drive right past and never know it, since there is nothing left but an empty field. All the prosperity that those jobs brought is gone

The Lowest Price Isn't Always The Best.

          That seems totally counter-intuitive, doesn't it? How could paying more be better than paying less? It seems to make no sense, and therefore has provided the ruling class with a seemingly irrefutable argument of a direct benefit to you of the “free market” global economy. So it would seem...         
          Let me give you my favourite example, the simple, lowly, power bench saw, an incredibly useful tool that has probably been around for at least 100 years in its current form. It consists of a box with a metal top with tracks for guides and a slot through which a circular saw blade protrudes. Inside, you will find what looks like a slightly oversized “skillsaw” mounted on two adjustable pivots, one to adjust angle, the other, hight of cut. A side mounted on-off switch completes the assembly.
          About thirty years ago, I would see the American-made versions selling for about $450. What in the world, I would ask myself, could possibly be worth $450. in that saw? That's a lot of money for a box with a pivoting skillsaw. Yet, grumble, as you would, you would pull out the $450 and buy it. Why not? You wanted it and you had the money. Today, that saw is made in China, and costs $99.99. You can't afford it, however,
because you don't have a job!

Une question pour vous: Are you better off when you have the money to pay for a more expensive saw, or when you can't afford the cheap one? I don't know how you feel, but I'd rather be able to afford the more expensive saw.

Even though it makes no sense at first, the more you analyse, the more you realise: lower prices don't always work in your favour. Or your country's.

So... what was in that saw that was worth $450.? I thought you'd never ask: prosperity. Those unionised workers who made those saws took the money they made and spent it... in local stores and businesses who needed to hire so that they could meet that demand. Those folks who were hired to meet the demand had money to spend, and they bought, among other things, power bench saws.....

President Obama will continue to push for more free trade agreements. He will continue to recite the neoliberal mantra: “free trade is good for you”. If you are part of the ruling class, he's telling the truth.