Sunday, January 30, 2011

Should Americans protest in the streets and demand jobs like some other countries do?

In so many ways, the American condition when it comes to the kinds of jobs we have, the quality of the jobs we have, and how many we have, is of our own design. Every dollar we spend casts a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. It's clear that over the last 30 or so years (and probably longer) we've collectively decided as a people that it is more important to have cheap goods to buy than to have a good paying job that provides for our families, and that provides for our well-being into our retirement years. We've made a clear trade off. That said, the question was, should we protest in the streets and demand jobs? I say no. We should simply cast our vote using our wallets. Money talks is the old axiom, and I think it stands as the truth, plain and simple. If we want to live in a world where the jobs we get to keep in our own country are substandard, then we continue to shell out our dollars for goods made somewhere other than our own country. I'm not saying we cannot be a global economy, but I am saying that a global economy is only a good thing if we are not making the trade off that we have clearly made in this pursuit of global commerce. We've given up our pensions. We've given up our health care. We've given up solid paychecks and excellent wages. We've been forced to make it necessary to have two earners in the household, and to some extent, we've lost mountains of family values over the years as parents spend more time trying to make a living than raising their children to be respectable, productive members of society.

If the argument had been that the global economy would be a boon to Americans, then how is it that we've had to give up so much? How is it that the middle class have been an eroding class as companies have expanded and grown to such largesse? How is it that CEOs pay has grown from 40 times the earnings of the average American to 400 times the earnings of the average American, all the while having these same companies tout about the cost of paying workers, and paying workers' benefits?

But I digress. The dollar is what speaks volumes to these companies. The dollar is our vote, and it our best form of protest. Demanding jobs is not the right thing to do. Making decisions in our own lives as to how we use our money, and to some extent making some sacrifices, including paying a little bit more for certain goods, is a proactive and responsible way to conduct the conveyance of our message to the upper echelon. If we buy American made goods where there is an alternative to do so, and spend more time looking for those alternatives, and be more willing to spend the premium which is attached to those alternatives, then the companies who sell us the goods we buy will determine that heedless of the cost associated with making things here, companies will do what they must in order to fill the demand. Profits and profitability are the drivers of business. If we make companies who do not produce goods here unprofitable, they have no other choice but to change how they do business, including where they make the products they want to sell to us.

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