I was raised in the Detroit area in the late 50s and the 60s, when it was the manufacturing center of the country. Back then I would have never believed economic conditions in Detroit could be brought so low by the time I reached middle age.
Lately I’ve been hearing pundits and prognosticators in media saying that it’s time to bring well paying jobs back to the USA. The new administration wants to create better jobs for the future. I sincerely hope they are able to follow through with this because it’s well past the time for the government to support working people instead of enabling the richest to get richer at the expense of the rest of us.
Life was pretty good in this country as long as you were willing to work hard and be sensible with your spending habits. Then came the 80s and too many Americans buying into the Greed is Good BS. That’s when actual work became devalued and the good jobs started moving out of this country. The value was placed on “entrepreneurship” or a fancy way of saying wheeler dealer, somebody who manipulates and exploits other people and capital to amass personal wealth and power. Our heroes became opportunists and no one wanted to work anymore, everyone wanted to be a yuppie. When I started seeing “He who dies with the most toys wins” bumper stickers, I drove to the mall, went to the custom T shirt shop and had a “Die Yuppie Scum” T shirt made.
This was all at the cost of what we now recognize as essential workers. The people who built and manufactured things were no longer appreciated for their contributions and good jobs were shipped to other countries. My father worked and a tool and die maker, and except for the recessions he had steady skilled work at decent enough wage to raise a family. That started to change with cost of living going up, my mother started working in the mid 60s. But that’s not the point, life got generally more complex at that time so people needed more income to make ends meet. In those days manufacturing was the engine of the American economy. There were HUNDREDS of tool and die as well as metal fabricating businesses in the Detroit area. Now they number in the DOZENS.
Computerization and robotics are the cause of a large part of the devastation of the small to medium sized tool and die businesses in manufacturing. But the flight of big industry to other countries in search of cheap labor is the real culprit. Now when this country faces new challenges on just about all fronts, our capacity to work on solutions to these problems has been gutted, hollowed out for decades.
I cycled through a series of jobs, descending in inherent worth, in Michigan because the one rule there was every job eventually ends in a layoff. The economic race to the bottom has caused the wealth inequality we now inhabit. I left Michigan in 2008 because the jobs had been disappearing for many years. I was a little too late because by the time I left, the national economy was crap and has been for regular working people ever since. The only people doing well are those who have managed to hold on to their “good jobs” still existing from the old economy. Jobs with decent pay and benefits. The dinosaur jobs that went extinct. And, of course the rich are getting richer.
I have taken a lot of flak for daring to criticize the Boomers. Most just deflect what I’m saying by declaring they have solar powered homes or electric cars or don’t eat red meat. While all being admirable positive efforts, the real question about the Boomers is what were you doing in the 80s and thereafter? Were you unscrupulously amassing a fortune with no thought about any negative consequences for your actions? Were you assisting to move jobs out of the country or to lay off working Americans?
I realize I’m nowhere near normal, but I spent years agonizing over how to make a living by doing something positive. To be precise, I spent years thinking how to make a living without making a negative impact. The closest I could come to that is working as a graphic artist without being involved in advertising or marketing. The last thing I ever wanted was to advance the interests of an unprincipled for-profit corporation. So I worked in jobs that avoided doing that for years. And sacrificed financially because of it. Then after 2008 the economy permanently changed to be so much worse for people who actually produce something for a living at the ground level. I can’t expect anyone else to live according to my standards. But I do believe that if you made a conscious contribution to Big Corporate America—who do not care about workers—then it matters. You deserve criticism.
I have never minded paying taxes. Taxation is the basis for a civilized society. But when my taxes are going into the Defense Dept. black hole and subsidies for the rich while the wealthy and large corporations pay little to no taxes? Then I have a problem with 25% of my meager resources going towards that kind of corrupt nonsense. I will get around to writing about the history of how negatively incorporation was viewed, early in the history of this country, for those who love to refer to founding fathers. But all rational beings know that this country is way out of whack and it’s past time for corporations and the super rich to COUGH UP THEIR FAIR SHARE!
They are so fantastically disgustingly wealthy because they have played our system to their advantage, now they need to pay that society back. Working people need better wages because we are living in a society that has been optimizing every conceivable method to milk the workers, for a period of forty years. A system in which wages have plummeted in relation to living costs. The vast majority of this country is BROKE! It’s time for the rich to pay their share OR it’s time to EAT THE RICH.