How to Fix the American Economy in Nine Simple Steps

 – by ‘tamerlane’

Get off the Pot

It’s going on eleven years since the American economy last didn’t suck. Bush spent eight years

F.P.O. Insert kitchy patriotic image here.

trashing it; barry’s spent another 2 1/2 years fiddling while Rome burns. In desperation, the American people are open to anyone offering a solution, however drastic.

From the Right, Rep. Paul Ryan offered a suitably draconion budget with cuts to the bone across the board, but especially on social services. From the lunatic fringe, Rep. Ron Paul suggested the federal government declare bankruptcy. The moderate republican obama administration, they of the “transformative change” — have been content with a few tweaks — a bailout here, a quantitative easing there, with a smokescreen of serious speeches pledging to seriously do something serious one of these days. From the left have come no comprehensive plans, only shrill warnings not to touch Medicare or Social Security.

Such “plans” are drivel.  Most are just fiddling with the knobs on a broken machine. Proposals like Ryan’s are on par with the medieval surgeon’s bleeding of the patient to dispel bad humours. We sent these people to Washington to get things done, specifically to fix the economy. Since they refuse to piss, it’s time for them to get off the pot. Time for the common folks to take charge.

A Simple Plan

Once you identify the real problem, great or small, the solution turns out to be fairly simple.  While the baboons in Washington sit around scratching their monkey butts, this ordinary American citizen decided to work out a real plan.  You may reject it on principle, or quibble with its details. But it’s comprehensive, is strengthened by synergies, is straightforward, and it’s bold.

Right now, we need bold. The patient that is the American economy has flat-lined, the EMTs need to crank up the defibrillator and quick. In contrast, the prescriptions coming from Washington are about as useful to our patient as “get more exercise” or “try to cut fats from your diet.”

Most of all, I’m convinced my plan will work.

1) “First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All The Economists”

For the past 30 years, our nation’s economy has suffered the ministrations of members of a bizarre religious cult known as “Economics.” Many splinter sects of this cult exist, each decrying the others as heresies. But all the cults of economics share one trait — they don’t work. All economics is voodoo. Astrology. Tarot reading.

Some sects are not as bad as others, but none have anything at all to do with the real world, and consequently, none have any predictive powers whatsoever. The great scientific thinker, E.O. Wilson, who considers economics “folk psychology” and “mostly irrelevant”, notes that it

“… cannot answer definitely most of the key macro-economic questions that concern society…. The world economy is a ship speeding through uncharted waters strewn with dangerous shoals. There is no general agreement on how it works. The esteem that economists enjoy arises not so much from their record of successes as from the fact that business and government have nowhere else to turn.”

Since Reagan, the United States has fallen victim to the most deluded and destructive sect of the cult, “Libertarian/Anarchist” economics. Known variously as the “Chicago School” or “Austrian School”, its witch doctors included Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, both former acolytes of that psychotic priestess of greed, Ayn Rand.

Thanks to their gris-gris, the once mighty bodybuilder of American industry has been transformed into an emaciated heroin junkie. Admittedly, some modern economists, realizing that (again, from Wilson)

“[s]eldom are the premises of [economic] models examines closely. Seldom are their conclusions tested to any depth with quantitative field data. Their appeal is in the chrome and roar of the engine, not the velocity or destination”

are earnestly trying to take a more scientific approach that offers real predictive power.

Ultimately, though, all economists make the same fundamental error of placing the cart before the horse. They tweak our society to fix the economy, when it should be the other way around.

‘But tamerlane,’ you’re surely saying, ‘is it really necessary to actually kill them?’  It sure would be fun, and, one might argue, deserved. But no, all we need to do is ignore whatever they say. That’ll be hard at first, because, like the fortune tellers they are, economists lure us with vague prognostications of the tall, dark stranger we’ll meet in the next quarter with half a million new jobs, or the exotic destination we’ll visit, where housing starts are up 11%.

In place of such gibberish, we’ll rely instead on our own common sense:

  1. Where do we want to go?
  2. What’ll get us there?
  3. Do that, and to hell with the rest.

2) Put Most Bankers in Chains; Put a Leash on the Rest

There’s a colony of parasites lviing in the bowels of our nation’s economy. These parasites produce nothing, provide no real services, yet makes obscene mountains of money just by shuffling around other people’s money. They’re called the financial “industry”, and they need a smack-down.
First off, the up & downs of the stock market are essentially meaningless. Unlike the current Washington baboons who fixate on Wall Street, we’re gonna ignore it. Sure, the stock market is essential in providing investment money for business. But mostly it’s just a pack of gamblers who bet on the success of other people’s businesses. Many now bet on the success or failure of the other broker’s bets. Heck, we’d do no worse aligning our economy to a Vegas sports book.

We’ll let the gamblers play, and even get rich now and again. There will, however, be strict regulations and oversight to prevent the abuses so prevalent on Wall Street that damage our economy. I know what you’re thinking, but that’s how other countries with healthier economies handle things, so put a sock in it. We’ll also be throwing into jail anyone who engages in things like predatory lending. Long sentences. In nasty, rat-infested jails. Filled with mother rapers and father rapers.

3) Create Jobs (Duh)

Every politician chants the same mantra: “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” By which they mean, ‘in this economy, you’re gonna need three jobs to make ends meet.’ These baboons do nothing tangible to create a base that’d generate real job growth, yet upon the latest report of 100,000 McJobs, they preen like a toddler proudly displaying their first potty.

It’s stupid to promise jobs to people if there’s nothing for them to do. Since we’re not stupid like, say, an economist or a politician, we’ll move right along to the things that’ll create not thousands, but millions, of jobs, and damn good ones, too.

4) Resurrect American Industry

I say “resurrect’ because, let’s face it: we spent the past 30 years intentionally killing off the largest industrial base the World had ever known. The economists clamored for the “World Economy”, then the corporate tapeworms shipped everything off to other parts of the world, mostly China. Now, everyone in Washington says we’ve got to “get competitive” to win back the jobs and manufacturing we so recklessly gave away. But in the Brave New World Economy, “competitive” means working 14-hour shifts for 59¢ an hour without bennies, in dangerous, polluting factories churning out shoddy crap that breaks.

This brew the economist witch doctors cooked up has been great for the world, and great for about 2% of Americans. But it’s sucked big time for the other 98% of us. So guess what, people — “World Economy” has just been cancelled.

There are a few American manufacturers clinging to life, But We’re gonna have to pretty much rebuild a manufacturing base from scratch. Our solution will be bold and it will be broad. The Federal government will:

  1. Invest properly in R&D, the way nations with strong economies — Japan, China, Germany — do;
  2. Kill the sham R&D subsidies (corporate welfare, really) to industries like mega-agriculture and fossil fuels;
  3. Undertake large-scale infrastructure projects that require heaps of both manpower and stuff made in America;
  4. Provide concrete assistance — not just lip service — to innovative & small business start-ups in the forms of loans, support programs, contracts, and tax incentives;
  5. Levy tariffs on foreign imports equaling the cost savings those countries enjoy from exploiting their workers and destroying the environment. The stuff we still make is already of better quality, but now we’re talking honest “competitiveness”!
  6. Close the loopholes in the corporate tax code that allow nominally “international” corporations to enjoy all the advantages of doing business in the US., while shielding their assets abroad from US taxes.

5) Get Cracking on That Green Economy, Already!

To win the latte liberal vote, obama made sweeping promises to create a “Green Economy” that would at once revitalize our economy while saving the environment. Like any good compulsive liar, once elected, barry did squat to fulfill his promise.

Yet the concept is still a sound one. It offers the best hope, in fact, to cure a host of ills. To make any real impact, though, the creation of our Green Economy has to be implemented on a massive, national scale. It’ll be like a 21st century version of the Tennessee Valley Authority, but on steroids.

Like the TVA and its hydro-electric power, our Green Economy will rely on already existing energy technologies. Also like the TVA, Federal underwriting will break the logjam by providing the capital investment the insipid “free market” is unable to muster.

The various elements will range in scale from private households to large power plants:

  1. Provide seed money and investment for large solar-mirror turbines and next-generation wind turbines that truly are “shovel ready”;
  2. Support and expand the military’s initiative toward becoming 50% self-sufficient from renewable energy by 2020;
  3. Rescue the few remaining domestic renewables makers by placing orders for solar panels atop the roof of every federal building in the nation. The resulting economies of scale will make renewable energy affordable for everyone;
  4. Make a “Solar Mortgage” available to every household and business in America. This is a simple yet brilliant idea already being implemented by private local vendors to remove the roadblock of prohibitive initial costs of these systems. Any participating household or business will have a renewable (usually PV panel) system installed that meets their energy needs. The Federal program will pick up the tab. The participant then makes a monthly “mortgage” payment equal to their average monthly utility bill. The term of the mortgage is flexible & based on that payment. Like a bank does with a house, the government covers the upfront cost, then gets paid back over time with interest. As the Solar Mortgage Program would only contract from American vendors, and employ American workers, it helps meet several goals of our overall plan.

Many other innovative programs will be part of the Green Economy initiave. All of them represent an investment in our industry, and our future. The advantages of going green vs. buying fossil fuels — either abroad or at home, is the same as paying a mortgage on a house you own vs. giving rent to someone else.

6) Make-Work Projects

When the previous great depression hit America, Hoover sat idly while millions suffered, waiting for “the market” to eventually sort things out. FDR actually did something — he created jobs through programs like the WPA and CCC. The suffering was ameliorated, while the workers’ paychecks helped spur more economic growth. And some very useful things got built, too — roads, bridges, national parks.

Today, our nation is falling apart at the seams. Our transportation network is crumbling, our large cities rotting. Out West, forests overgrown with brush lead to devastating mega-fires. Let’s tackle all these problems, and more. We’ll employ people — the young, those undesirable 40- & 50-somethings — who’d have no other hope of getting a job. Their paychecks will create other jobs, and we’ll fix up our nation in the process. Yes, this is government fiddling with “the market.” No, this may not force people to “take personal responsibility.” Yes, this is “socialism.” But guess what — Socialism Works.

7) Take Back Jobs Given to Foreigners

The tariffs in #4 above will reverse the ruinous practice of outsourcing jobs. Yet even at home, jobs that should go to Americans are instead taken by foreigners.

  1. Crack Down on Unfair Work Visa Practices — When not shipping jobs oversees, corporate tapeworms import ever-increasing numbers of foreign workers to the US. Arriving on work visas intended only for when a company can’t find a qualified American applicant, these foreign employees are willing to work killer hours for less pay than Americans. Not only do the tapeworms reap the direct payroll savings, the presence of the foreigners allow them to squeeze their American employees on wages and benefits. This practice is not only bogus, it’s unethical and un-American. Under our common sense plan, the INS will be directed to implement a new policy that only issues work visas in the rare instances when truly no suitable American worker can be found. Any corporate tapeworm caught trying to get around this policy will find themselves sharing a cell in that nasty jail mentioned above.
  2. Stop Illegal, & Curb Legal, Immigration — This may be too controversial for some, but it’s worth putting on the table. Fact: There are as many as 30 million illegal immigrants in this country; Fact: That represents 10% of the population; Fact: Unemployment is around 10% OK, it may not be that simple. But let’s dispense once and for all with the canard ‘illegals are willing to take jobs that Americans don’t want.’ No, illegals are willing to work for wages that Americans won’t accept.

The Saga of the Georgia Peaches highlights our muddled thinking on this subject. Following the passage of a strict anti-illegal worker law in Georgia, peach-growers suddenly found themselves at harvest time without their usual work force of illegals. ‘See why stopping illegal immigration is a bad idea,’ they all sung, ‘now y’all are gonna have to pay more for peaches at the supermarket!’  Ignoring for a moment that all these growers had been committing a federal offense, the sky isn’t really falling.

They’ll just have to buck up and hire Americans, pay them (at least) minimum wage, and pass the cost onto us. Yeah, the price of peaches will jump to $6 a pound, but we’ve been paying the real cost all along, only not at the checkout counter. And what we’ll get for that $6 is nothing to sneeze at: unemployment in Georgia goes down, bigger paychecks spread the wealth around, and the State’s social services will be relieved of the departed illegal workers. If that all seems too draconian to you, then pass a goddamn bill naturalizing the illegals who are currently dragging down wages.

8) Kill the Minimum Wage; Institute a Minimum Income

We Americans take strange pride in our byzantine approach to regulations. We have a federal minimum wage, but individual states have their own minimum wages, sometimes special minimum wages for teenagers or part-time workers. One teensy-weensy flaw in our system is that even the federal minimum wage is not a living wage — for anyone not living on their sister’s couch, it leaves you about $6,000 p/a short of what you need to survive.

Just raising the figure isn’t sufficient, so long as there are corporate slaveholders like Walmart who make everyone “casual” employees. Even when the baboons in Washington rouse themselves to belatedly raise the minimum wage, they stupidly enter a fixed figure in the bill, which quickly falls behind inflation. Under our plan, we will create a minimum wage law that sets the wage as a variable linked to inflation, price indexes, etc. Presto! No need to ever pass another bill!

Going further, we’ll establish a Minimum Income (“M.I.”), also a variable linked to indicators. This will be the minimum amount of money a person/household needs to survive. Can’t find a full-time job? No problem! The government will cover the gap between your wages and the M.I. Oh, we’ll also be assigning you to a job, maybe something you’re skilled at, but also maybe sweeping streets or in the kitchen of a retirement home. We’ll also train you for some steady job. Once the M.I. program is in place, we can terminate the various welfare and workfare programs that are so costly and utterly worthless.

9) Damn the Deficit – Full Speed Ahead!

Yo! All you babbling baboons in Washington — sit down, shut up, and pay attention: The federal deficit is not the problem; it’s but a symptom of the problem. Stop trying to fix the deficit — sucking on cough drops won’t cure pneumonia. If you fix the core problem, then the deficit will eventually go away on its own.

Those politicians most eager to cut the federal budget also usually urge that the government “be run more like a business.” I agree. A business in trouble can either react by cutting things like promotion, shutting plants, and laying off workers. Those ones almost always end up closed. Other business respond by taking out loans and expanding operations. They bravely invest, in anticipation of an eventual Return on Investment. These are businesses that usually persevere. Let’s apply this winning business strategy to our nation’s current woes:

Problem: Expenditures are up.
Solution: Cut non-essential costs. The only area where sizable savings can be realized is the military. We operate several wars in branch locations that have yielded zero ROI. We should shut down these operations ASAP, and assign the employees to other departments. There’s also some room to cut our Medicare line of products, but it’s very popular with our customers. All other potential savings combined are relatively minor. Social Security is a wholly self-funded subsidiary which actually extends loans to other departments. Shutting it down it would be counter-productive.

Problem: Revenues are down.
Solution: We have two remedies available to us. First, we should increase taxes — or more accurately, return to previous levels on the upper tax bracket. Earlier reductions of this income stream account for nearly all our current shortfalls. Second, we can take out a loan to cover the difference. Fortunately, as we ourselves print money, we can do this as needed.

Problem: Our plant operations are inadequate.
Solution: The previous management foolishly shut down profitable factories and branches. We need to reverse that by investing in new factories, new markets, and hire the necessary employees. We’ll print some money to cover the start-up costs, but are confident that the ROI will begin to be realized early, and will eventually be significant.

A Simple Plan?

‘Can it really be that simple?’ you ask. My plan is a good one, or at least a good starting point for a serious discussion. But simple and easy are not the same. Too many people with power & influence have too much personally to lose. They’ll make it hard to implement this simple plan.

The question then is, do we let them keep that power, and let them continue destroying our economy and our nation? Or do we wrest that power away, and do what needs to be done to save our country?

(c) 2011 by True Liberal Nexus. All rights reserved.

15 Responses to How to Fix the American Economy in Nine Simple Steps

  1. Jay Floyd says:

    “Yeah, the price of peaches will jump to $6 a pound, but we’ve been paying the real cost all along, only not at the checkout counter.”

    I love this point and the way you put it.

  2. Jibarosoy says:

    Brilliant, angry, and right! This should circulate to all parties, left and right. Too many people are fiddling with the wrong solutions. You should run for prez.

  3. Cyn says:

    Tamer, this is wonderful. You have such a vast array of ideas and such easy explanations, that at the very least, it will get people who shudder when they hear the word “ecomonics” something to think about and add to. It’s time we take this country back.

  4. Senneth says:

    Hi Tamerlane,
    Like your ideas. I do see a problem with the solar/wind power. Both require rare earth metals and we’ve already reached peak on those I’ve read, need fossil fuels to extract them, and extracting them has all but destroyed the area in China where it takes place.

    I also think we should close all nuclear facilities down and start a dialogue on peak oil and energy.
    Ideas are being floated for mini/micro hydralic plants that don’t span the whole body of water so fish have access. Using wood in stoves/fireplaces again through coppicing, and other interesting ideas. Then there’s permaculture vs. agriculture and the list goes on. Most peak oil sites talk about these elements. And of course shopping local and growing your own food in a garden if you can.

    Personally I don’t think Washington is that concerned with us, the little people, and I think building communities and getting to know your neighbors is going to be invaluable.

    Great ideas though. If only Washington would follow them.

    • tamerlane says:

      The “rare earth metals” canard is FUD from the GW deniers. Spain already produces more solar energy than the entire US, and they had no difficulty acquiring the necessary “rare metals.” I’m not sure what these metals could be, as most of a PV panel is plain, old silicon. WInd turbines are no more exotic than a table fan. The Dutch will soon be implementing a wave-powered turbine with no electronic parts.

      In any case, the biggest potential lies in solar “boilers”, simple mirrors heating an ordinary liquid to intense temps that run turbines.

      You’re correct that peak oil is gonna throw everything on its ear. We might as well get started now with the lifestyle changes you mention.

  5. Zaladonis says:

    Loved reading this, it’s all well taken and well said; but the core problem isn’t addressed.

    You’re right we need more manufacturing, fewer jobs going to foreigners, and increased minimum wage. Can’t happen. Manufacturing went away and foreigners got the jobs that remained because American labor is too damned expensive. Way too damned expensive. Foreign labor equals bigger profits and that’s not changing right now. China, in the home stretch of what they’ve been dreaming of for decades if not centuries, isn’t about to let their best asset be undercut.

    We have to lower our standard of living. (If we vote in the right people we’ll also make America’s wealthiest contribute at least double what they do now, but that’s unlikely because today people vote who they like rather than who’ll get the job done.) Everybody in America wants a prosperous economy but no American is willing to be the one to sacrifice to get us there. Meanwhile, Obama’s health care reform, an opportunity to significantly address the cost of American labor, instead makes the problem worse. That, ObamaCare, was when the worm turned. There’s no going back, just a series of decisions that’ll continue to erode our economy.

    I know you dismiss the necessity of letting the American economy hit bottom or something similarly catastrophic, as it did during the Great Depression and as it has not during this “Great Recession,” but I think it’s our only chance to provide the needed adjustment that indulged Americans aren’t about to make willingly. Although an economic crash would be very difficult to say the least, a longer and slower decline will leave us so exhausted and demoralized I hate to think what an opportunistic narcissist sociopath could do with a population of our resources in that kind of desperate condition.

    • tamerlane says:

      Maybe you’re right, that only when things utterly fall apart will people realize they have to make a change. Until then, I’ll still give talking sense to them a shot.

      No doubt that we need to adjust our lifestyle — the West is using up resources at 150% capacity, the “developing” world at a 110% clip — obviously unsustainable. The economists also told us, the only way for a healthy economy is to keep it growing infinitely — also obviously insane. I almost included “Cut Back on Luxuries” as one of the steps. It’s something we need to do, as individuals and as a nation. It’s something we’ll be forced to do soon.

      • Zaladonis says:

        Grotesquely self-indulgent narcissistic entitled cliques of high school slackers do not do the hard work and make the real sacrifices that repair a broken society; rather, they think they deserve more and better than those who came before and they’ll screw anyone to get it. Incompetence and irresponsibility has reached crisis level but Americans giggle about it while they order their double lattes or big macs. Americans lie, cheat and steal as a matter of course; pride of accomplishment was replaced by brass trophies for just signing up, and nothing is more highly prized than razzle dazzle fakery. I’ve been clear the past few years where all this leads and have been waiting for everyone else to catch up. And I think finally it’s beginning to sink in just a little. I’ve noticed recently that despite the incessant need to be likable and all the faux friendliness, Americans don’t seem to like each other very much any more.

        Within our lifetimes we’re going to see the United States broken and in an epic struggle. Putting it off is fine with me, I’m getting my ducks in a row and the longer I have the better; but I do believe the longer we delay the harder it’s going to be. A lot of Americans will not make it.

  6. Fionnchú says:

    I teach (in the liberal arts as gen ed) at an institution geared to educating, or at least preparing for careers, solely technical workers and business managers. The low level of skills shown by many enrolled gets an endless blame game with a finger always pointed backwards. Those out of the military and who have had higher ed in a foreign country perform much better on the whole than those out of high school or the local j.c.

    This relates to Zaladonis’ remarks, which make Tamerlane’s for once sound nearly optimistic by comparison. We’ve given away so much and expect now so little from our grads and workers and students in the causes of multicult and sensitivity to diversity and acceptance of “at-risk youth” as nearly the norm that our standards educationally (started by all that grade inflation during the Vietnam War to keep undergrads out of the draft) don’t seem able to be enforced as they were: remedial (oops, developmental) English & Math for many at non-elite colleges are the status quo while we charged with teaching and redressing past easing of expectations wonder how we can raise the bar and keep our jobs.

    I drive to work behind trucks bound to/from the ports that ship perhaps 75% of the goods coming in from Asia. I wonder what the trucks carry back, after they unload their goods inland at vast warehouses to fill vast big-box chains. The erosion of small businesses by tax-break “redevelopment” schemes the past thirty years also bears a lot of the blame, as does the evisceration of local merchants and family businesses.

    And as for what must be made here, I figured all that stimulus money would at least fund made-in-America projects. So, imagine my surprise to find last week that the replacement spans of the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge are assembled in China and shipped here with totally Chinese materials.

    • tamerlane says:

      Those returning cargo containers are filled with dunnage — compacted cardboard & paper — or the broken electronics, not much earlier arrived, now headed back to recycling in giant toxic dumps.

      We’re fucking junkies, and Walmart is our pusher.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Tamerlane, though we may disagree on occasion I have to credit you with affording me a chance to give some real thought to your well conceived essay.

        I think most of us, including many of those who took to the streets, are just fed up to the hilt with our current state of affairs. We wander around practically helpless against a small handful of people who bend and shape outcomes to fit their own agenda.

        It’s almost a given that few really care or relate to the majority and given the current slate of morons running for POTUS that belief is not about to change any time soon.

        Great piece.

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