Good Concepts Gone Bad
When I wrote Destiny, I warned that my capitalist underpinnings were balanced by recognition that unrestrained capitalism can be as bad as any other system in its net effects on the populace. This article takes a fresh look at free trade, immigration and outsourcing, based on the flow of events since the late 1990ís. We will start with the idea that all actions we commit have a purpose in supporting some group of people, sometimes at the expense of other people.
Communism and altruism are easily seen as proper within a nuclear family. Capitalism canít work in that environment due to the inability of the least capable individuals, the children, to compete and offer equal value goods and services back to their parental providers. Capitalism works fairly when there is a level playing field in terms of opportunity to produce and to trade. This is why we expect people to be responsible for themselves as adults in the USA. Historically, we advanced individually based on the combination of our abilities and motivations. Once we formed large corporations, however, the amassing of wealth by those corporations diminished the opportunity for individuals to act independently for their own gain.
In one sense USA citizens are a family, in that we are brought together under our governments and our businesses and expected to work on their behalf in return for our physical and financial security. We expect to work securely in the pursuit of our individual happiness. Capitalism, however, has no guarantee of success due to the inherent nature of competition. Thus, we rely on government to assure that our population has the continued opportunity to succeed, for businesses will not and in the past have not. Businesses do not see the population at large as family. Businesses exist for their own gain, however that may be assured by any legal means.
This means that laws, created by governments, control what businesses can and canít do so as to maintain the wellbeing of the populace. This includes but is not limited to considerations of international trade, immigration and outsourcing. Historically that process led to trade barriers, forced recognition of unions and controlled immigration. Today we have a radically changed environment due in part to governmental initiatives to evolve the world peacefully through interdependent international trade. Also, businesses provide the election funding for many of our legislators, so their influence on legislation is to be feared.
Corporations have been quick to jump onto the international trade bandwagon for obvious economic reasons. Outsourcing does lower costs for individual companies, giving them an advantage over competitors, who are then forced to outsource, all of which causes job loss within the USA. The family that should be the highest concern of government and USA businesses is being forgotten on behalf of profits for businesses and world influence visions within government.
Immigration was initially used to provide labor to expand the industrial revolution. No jobs were lost Ö many jobs were added. Today, we have no shortage of available people to work in the USA, yet immigration, both legal and illegal, is used to lower costs, resulting in job loss and declining real income for the existing USA citizens. This move is a first cousin of outsourcing and it has the same impact on profits and the same victims.
One might ask why any company would be permitted to be in business here in the USA without employing our citizens to the exclusion of outsource country populations? One might ask why illegal and legal immigration are being allowed to force down labor costs? Of what value is it to the ordinary USA citizen that countries like China are potentially huge markets for the products of companies that move operations to China? There is no value except to the owners and operators of the company. Think of it this way Ö lower wages there means the working people cannot buy the very things we enjoy, while lower wages here means more of us cannot afford the things we enjoy, even though some imported items are lower in cost than they would be if produced here.
Is that wrong? Have we not always sought efficiency and rewards for the best economic decisions? Doesnít the specter of altruism, which is death to capitalism, become obvious when we talk about supporting the whole USA with jobs that pay well? Wouldnít a new era of isolationism put us at greater risk of later wars?
The sad truth is that we always need to be on guard to protect ourselves from altruism, which rewards drones and reduces the incentive to improve. Capitalism must be protected to keep us evolving technology; else we become a stagnant society. What has gone wrong, however, is that we have allowed the profit motive to undermine the financial security of our population. Like any other good thing, capitalism can be done to excess and that is a reality right now. Thirty years ago we had too many liberal entitlement programs that just created more drones. Today we have our productive population under attack re jobs. Both of these extremes are stupid.
We have lost our perspective in government and in business through some sick variant of Manifest Destiny. Expanding markets will ultimately lead to high material consumption in other nations that will degrade the environment via waste products. With the demise of the Soviet Union we have no military competitor. With the USA population expanding at the rate of one person every ten seconds we need more jobs, not less, and not of the "Would you like fries with that, sir?" variety.
The American Dream is no more, as there is no opportunity on the horizon to employ large numbers of our citizens with good pay rates. Our most powerful people have abdicated their responsibility to the citizens to maintain an environment of opportunity for all. This is especially true for those of us capable of doing most anything well, who deserve and demand respect and loyalty from our leaders lest we divert our talents, like abused children, to destructive ends.
What, then, must be done to "fix" the current problems? For one, international outsourcing must be stopped. Any company can expand operations into any other country, but not use the low labor rates there to send products back to the USA. Let them develop their own markets within the countries of manufacture. Free trade? Outsourcing is an abominable result. Trade barriers? Alas, I must again refer you to Destiny, where I explained the requirement to use import taxes where necessary to stop companies from exploiting workers in other countries to the detriment of workers here. Immigration is unnecessary to our advance. Indeed, it is a growing problem in that we are not a melting pot but becoming a collection of self-serving sub-cultures, which will work against all other groups in their pursuit of their dreams.
Tribal loyalty? Let me pose the questions this way Ö Which do you prefer, promoting other nations at your expense or promoting yourself? Why do you owe success to any other group at your expense? Is it not clear that their advancement will ultimately be at your expense, both economically and environmentally, both here and in the rest of the world? That is capitalism, and it is time for you to think like a capitalist to protect your own interests by controlling other large capitalists through governmental legislation.
Note that I do not support altruism. People must be paid based on the value of their goods and services, but allowing an unnecessary undermining of our employable population is skullduggery, not capitalism. Remember that it was the businesses in the early twentieth century whose bad behavior necessitated government intervention via child labor laws, breaking monopolies and forcing recognition of unions to assure decent pay and working conditions. Iím afraid that we must now repeat that control process with twenty-first century flavors.
As is so typical, the only way to do that is to enrage enough people to force the Congress to stop allowing large businesses to degrade our lives. Where, pray tell, do you see a political platform that stresses the need to stop outsourcing, the need to stop immigration or the need to abandon trade treaties that are hurting ever more of us within the USA via job losses? Iíve looked around and I realize that these topics are "unmentionables" for political candidates, and that means only a grassroots movement will create the needed changes.
Do we have the will and the energy to join together on these issues?