It is said that the best way to remain at peace with other nations is to develop strong trading relations with them. Developing peaceful relations with other countries usually starts by reducing tensions between nations by starting cultural exchanges. Reaching out to break the chill using your best and your most talented artists. The next step is often the exchange of unique products or natural resources available only from specific regions. Once win-win scenarios are established and institutionalized, trust begins to develop and the final step of extending mutual benefits escalates into the exchange of higher level technologies and the development of broader trade and financial market exchange policies. The policies then need to be weighed collectively to measure the overall net benefit i.e. economic benefits versus social costs to one’s society. Peace ultimately ensues, but at what price?
Japan, Germany, Russia, China. All once dreaded enemies. All bring different things to the trading table in today’s environment. All have taken somewhat different paths to gain toe-holds in the vast American economy. All are targeting specific areas for further penetration in our markets. Under the guise of Free Trade, we allow these countries and their industrial bases to continue to exploit a very one sided exchange. They get an open market, and we get peace and maybe a little influence into how they develop their societies by banging the human liberty drum quietly in their backyards. As much as I value promoting peace, I cannot help but feel like we are being taken here, that the other countries are only paying lip service for the price of admission to this party.
The real cost of this lassie-fare approach to international trade development is that we are losing our middle class. I suspect that many of our leaders in both government and industry are quite aware of this because it is their plan. They desire to return to an aristocracy where they are the elite and everyone else is a serf here to do only their bidding. The resources being exploited now are human, and they are being exploited under the false belief that you too can become rich and powerful like me someday when reality says the exact opposite. A big game of misdirection and slight of hand is happening and nobody wants to stand back and shout that we’re being had! As bastardized capitalism is promoted as a means to keep the peace, the powerful are silently working on a rebirth of the last bastion of slavery or indentured servitude. We get to develop an addiction, a dependency on cheap foreign imports while losing the economic ability to buy them.
What we export the most now seems to be middle class jobs; jobs to those emerging countries with vast resources of cheap labor. The advent of artificial intelligence in the form of software assistance programs and computer driven machinery allows cheap labor to perform functions which used to require skill and experience. So we export a little technology with the jobs under the front that we are promoting democracy and a free trade model for the world. What we are really doing is making the rich richer and the poor poorer. We are wiping out our middle class in the process and creating an ever growing need for unemployment extension after unemployment extension in a deep and protracted recession. We are exercising neither free trade nor fair trade; we are exercising designed trade serving only the interests of the few!
What we are seeing is a shift away from spending money on defense to spending more and more for social support systems due to the economic calamity happening to our poor and middle classes. Tinkle-down economics undertaken during the Regan era guarantees that the mechanics are still in place to make sure that the wealthy can maintain their wealth by not reinvesting in the economy for whatever reason suits their purpose at the time. They are allowed to shelter profits by moving corporate offices overseas, investing in foreign currencies, and a thousand other financial games that allow them to grow their wealth while ignoring social obligations like “promote the general welfare” as dictated in the Constitution. We allow this only because we suffer from the disease of dreaming that we too will be rich someday, so we must allow this type of behavior to continue so we too can remain wealthy once we get there. We are so misguided as to what our collective future holds if we allow the middle class to disappear. I do not know how one gets to the top of the ladder if all of the rungs are missing.
Our Constitution dictates what we are supposed to do as citizens of this great country. The Preamble is our mission statement. Nowhere in it do I read that we are supposed to be so self-interested that we are to promote our own individual liberties at the expense of another’s. No, we are to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” We are not supposed to run around like a bunch of self-involved, holier than thou, dictators only interested in pressing our own agenda designed for our own benefit. The price of citizenship runs much higher. We are expected to promote and protect the middle class for it represents the ideal of promoting the general welfare for all. The rich need to realize that patriotism should not be confused with charity; they have obligations.
We must find another way to promote liberty and peace on an international scale other than deciding to promote global economic development at the expense of America’s middle class. This will require leadership. Leadership is not a trumpet call to self-importance; it is an opportunity to serve. To those that much is given, much is expected. Selfishness and greed should be accepted for what it is. Only by acknowledging its existence can it truly be brought into the light, and like the vampire that it is, the light will destroy it. We must find a better way to promote the values of democracy and liberty other that the massive exportation of the American middle class to other countries, for if things continue on as they have been, the masses are doomed! All American’s should ask the soul searching question; is the advancement of my personal interests paramount even at the expense of my country and everyone else’s welfare? If you answered yes, please give up your American citizenship and move to another country because I don’t think you got the memo in your high school civics class. There is more to being American other than just getting rich!