The Fix, Don't Bet On It
The latest attempt at outlining how to cure the nations economic ills, by the President is a lofty almost ambiguous goal to say the least. Unfortunately, like so many other speeches that only created short term enthusiasm little effort was put in to specify just how a sitting President was going to accomplish all that he has laid out. Nor, did he mention that one of this nations largest metropolitan areas is in a death spiral of economic demise. Detroit, a city that has for years been a United States symbol of economic power now has been systematically reduced to the point that it is literally dying right before our eyes. Detroit is by no means the lone municipality to face dire economic and financial conditions. Cities all across the country are languishing in acute desperation waiting for any spark to ignite a fire for economic rebirth.
It was just recently that Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. It is the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States. Here we have a city that was one of the greatest cities in the world now reduced to but a shadow. What happened in the course of just 40 years that has leveled Americas greatest centers for economic power? To really answer that is to trace the reality that the American Auto industry along with it's accomplices Wall Street, the United Auto Workers Union, and our own governmental policies for the past 40 years all played an internal part in reducing not only Detroit's ability to prosper but practically every city all across the country. Too many cities are now all facing acute financial hardships. Today, Detroit is over 20 billion dollars in debt. A fact that is an undeniable certainty that the residents face unparallel hardships.
Another reason to why Detroit is in such dire straits is to understand how the American Auto industry has suffered and to some extent failed. To answer that question why the American Auto industry failed we have to go as far back as the early 1950's to the introduction of the Tucker Automobile. Here was a man, Tucker, who envisioned a car far ahead of it's time only to have the Oil and the major Auto industry purposely set out to undermine and eventually destroy this automobile before it was capable of mass production. This was a car that was able to get more than 50 miles per gallon of gasoline with safety features unheard of back then.
Back in the 1950's the major auto and oil companies were the dominate industries in the United States. They controlled the economies of not only the United States but pretty much the rest of the world. Along with our strong manufacturing base more citizens were able to purchase cars without worrying about the price of gas, unlike today. This laissez-faire attitude among the auto industry and the general public created an illusion that the American Auto Industry was like the Titanic, unsinkable.
The United Auto Workers Union realizing the volume of cars sold began to seek higher wages. But as wages increased the auto industry started cutting corners in using lesser quality materials in the designing and manufacturing of the American auto. This was to make up for the United Auto Workers pay demands. Consequently the American made automobile ceased to be of the quality and affordability that it once was. The lessening of tariffs allowed countries like the Japanese to begin flooding the American market with lower priced better quality cars.
In 1974 the United States experienced it's first real disruption in oil and gasoline. The cost of fuel began to rise like never before causing major economic suffering for all. Countries like Brazil realized that oil from the Mid-East couldn't be reliable anymore and set out to be almost energy independent. They succeeded. The United States on the other hand, our policies didn't alter and the population was left with no recourse but to suffer and pay at the pump. We are still paying more at the pump. In 1974 this was the first surge for alternative fuel sources like wind or solar but with cost constraints then as there is now the vast majority of the population wasn't and still won't be able to afford the new energy. Consequently, the US economy is still at the mercy of "Big Oil". But, back in the 1970's the American Auto industry continued to manufacture non-fuel efficient automobiles and along with the major oil companies ignored the warning signs that the American public was beginning to purchase those foreign cars that were now of a better quality, more fuel efficient, and more affordable.
Had the American Auto Industry designed American Autos to meet the fluctuating gasoline prices and the United Auto Workers Union put wage caps on wages just enough to be considered a living wage the American Auto Industry would be producing the type of Automobile that meets today challenges; more affordable, longer lasting, more fuel efficient and safety ensured American made cars. Today, the American made cars are beginning to meet today needs. In Detroit's case, it is not enough.
We have to remember that back in 1960 the city of Detroit had over 295,000 manufacturing jobs, today you would be hard pressed to find just a couple thousand. With over 100,000 abandoned homes the city is looking more like a war zone. Compounding the economic plight is another startling fact that today more than 50% of Detroit's population are functionally illiterate. Detroit is by no means the lone municipality that has an enormous rate of functionally illiterate citizens. Where there are cities with little or no means for financial stability education only continues to suffer. This creates a domino effect of financial and economic retardation.
Like Detroit, cities all across the country, though not as acute, but non-the-less continue to face budget short falls. Tax bases have been withering on that vine of lost opportunities for too many years. Meanwhile our governmental policies and the rhetoric coming from practically every elected official continues to miss the boat when it comes to outlining just how the hell the United States can reclaim it's economic might we had just 50 years ago. Miss the boat, our elected officials and our corporate CEO's have yet to find the right pier. And, this latest attempt to rally the American public the present Administration outlined what could be a first step in the long road to stability, but the real problem has and continues to be the lack of genuine education for the American public on how to achieve what we all know needs to be done. This, so that more cities and towns don't end up like the city of Detroit.
There are many contingencies that have to be considered simultaneously in order to felicitate the outcome the United States needs today. We can do more than only hope that the President realizes this. It is going to take a monumental effort to outline specifics to the American public on what needs to be done. What the present Administration has to do is to focus on the mediums of today and be the professor of reform this nation needs. To keep going the way we have been with only Band-Aid fixes on injuries that require major surgery only creates more infections and festering of our almost mortally wounded economy. It has been too often that when someone attains a major leadership role in the United States government or becomes a CEO they too tend to lose focus on what are the solutions that seem all too evident. This is when someone is looking inside out rather than from the outside in rational holds true.
With our two party system in government poised along party lines with real no apparent compromise coming forth and the insane amount of money required now to just consider being a public servant [Public servant, ha, more likely a slave to the special interest groups that supply the ridiculously exorbitant amount of money for political campaigns] the logger jam of political expediency only continues. Thus, any real effort to negate the financial conditions that are continuing to undermine the US economy never materializes is the reality we are faced with today.
The only way now to avert an economic calamity is through total reform of our own government, it's current policies, and the repeal of certain Supreme court decisions. This is where education has to become paramount for every American citizen. Education on how a National Economic Reform agenda is imperative for the future of America. Only through implementing National Economic Reform with it's Ten Articles of Confederation can the United States shed the cloak of despair and anguish that continues to shroud over the American public. Like the New Deal of the 1930's National Economic Reform will have lasting implications that will not only revive that vine of opportunities in Detroit but in every city and town all across the country.