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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rebuilding America

I've lived long enough to see the benefits and the pitfalls of globalization.  It seems finding a balance between the two is a difficult task at best.  Globalization opened up new markets for big business to export their goods, increasing profits, thus expanding business.  Issues arose when we farmed out jobs overseas for cheaper labor to country's that have an unfair advantage (such as subsidizing industries to keep costs down).  It goes beyond this, but simplistically speaking low cost labor and government subsidies helped other nations take U.S. jobs.  America's shift from a producing country (industrial and agricultural) to a service oriented country only facilitated the problem of exporting jobs.  Instead a prescription of balance should have been on the agenda.  Another issue adding insult to injury was the promise of the American dream, an extravagant lifestyle which new no bounds on taking on more debt instead of living within our means.

Small business suffers from trying to obtain credit in an ever increasingly difficult credit market.  One could argue, that small business owners lack the capital to create an debt free business further contributing to the problem.  So how do we recover?  Where do we go from here?  For starters I think we need to become a nation of savers again.  We need to accumulate capital, so we can afford to start a new business debt free.  We need to get back our sense of community, because we will need our community to be successful.  We need to find a balance between global growth and local jobs.

Before I go into some depth here, lets lay a little ground work.  There are many issues with products imported from overseas for our consumption.   Some are safety issues, health issues and so on.  Stories in the papers about toys from China containing lead paint, fake eyeballs filled with kerosene and the list goes on.  Our food which we mostly imported these days is genetically modified, filled with pesticides and processed increasing risks to our health (which btw increases costs of our healthcare).  Cosmetics made with chemicals that almost nobody knows what they are (see cosmetics database for safe soaps and cosmetics or to assess the product of your choices toxicity levels) and side effects that we see later on.  Prescription drugs which have more side effects than they do cures are being recalled at an alarming pace (read here).

With these issues in the products that we import, why not create safe products here in the U.S. made by U.S. workers.  It will take a mind shift for most Americans as the imported products will most likely remain cheaper, but if we can get safe/organic/non-toxic products produced in America which will be better for your health, isn't that worth the extra money.  Here is where community comes in.  If communities created small businesses to take care of local needs like agriculture, services and products that provided an advantage to buying local (like using a local currency which brings down the cost of local goods and services, we could start putting firm footing on regaining our footing.   Local currency would ensure the money was spent locally, thereby ensuring a customer base for the businesses.  Now a local currency obviously is used purely for local incentive, regular dollars will have to be used for outside purchases and other needs in the community (again, balance).  Local currencies are being used all over the country currently to fill this very need.  This may seem like an insurmountable task and I confess I have to investigate how to implement local currencies legally, the marketing and etc, but all we need is a small step.  One step could be supporting our local farmer by joining a co-op.  Then one-by-one businesses can be created to fill other needs.  This sounds very simplistic and I agree with where our sense of community is today, could be a challenge, but not insurmountable.

I have a feeling whether we do this today or not, we will have to migrate to this way of doing things down the road ensuring real growth and stability in the communities we live in.  This false pumping of dollars into the economy to keep it propped up is the equivalent of putting more wooden supports under a structure that adds weight to itself faster and faster, soon enough those supports will give way.  As Peter Schiff who forecasted the coming recession/depression in 2006 said "America needs to become producers again".

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