7 Things: Ways the United States Has Created Its Own Economic Decline – Part 2

Now, the top three ways the U.S. has created its own economic decline.

Way 3 – We tried to create an elitist society.

Remember the true rise of the Internet age? The expansion of the world wide web? The explosion of Microsoft and U.S. technology and Silicon Valley ?Remember the consensus amongst the government and economists and venture capitalists and U.S. colleges and U.S. workers that the United States was going to become the technology capital of the world, and that students should prepare themselves for the high-paying, white collar jobs that U.S. companies were about to create in the millions?

Think it’s a coincidence that outsourcing from the U.S. took off around the same period?

Outsourcing has become a hot-button word in politics, but, the truth is, from an economic standpoint, outsourcing is supposed to be beneficial, not just to a country’s economy, but to the world economy. With outsourcing, employees in the country where the jobs go can expect higher wages, while the employees in the country from which the jobs are outsourced can expect better jobs. The idea is that it kicks everyone up a notch on the economic ticker and both countries benefit.

Employees in India, say, make a good living wage, and employees in the U.S. trade in their goggles and gloves for suits and ties and their positions on the assembly line for cubicles.

The problem with this isn’t the theory. The problem is with the people. U.S. workers weren’t prepared to work in the technology capital of the world, and those in charge of companies didn’t stop at outsourcing lower-wage jobs.

Good luck convincing the execs of a company that is making more profit through outsourcing that bringing jobs back to the U.S. is in their best interest.

Way 2 – We allow capitalism to run rampant.

Greed. Avarice. One of the seven deadly sins. Yet, here in the U.S. where 78 percent of the population identifies as Christian, it’s worn as a badge of honor.

Healthcare? For profit.

Education? For profit.

Both of these necessities to live a comfortable, productive life?

Fucking expensive.

In theory, capitalism doesn’t seem like a bad thing. In practice, it doesn’t have to be. Those with the ingenuity, the ideas and the drive rise to the top and everyone else ascends to their own peaks and fall in place along the capitalist spectrum. In capitalist theory, the height to which every person climbs depends upon their own preparation and the work they are willing to put in.

The problem with capitalism is that it assumes conscience where conscience may not exist. It assumes that those who get to the top will not intentionally try to push others back down so that they don’t have to share the treasures at the peak of the mountain.

The sad truth is, you can never assume conscience. If you want people to care, you have to mandate it.

Way 1 – We maintain a caste.

Minimum wage in this country is barely a living wage in this country. In many places, it’s not even close to a living wage. And that minimum wage, the one that doesn’t pay enough to provide basic necessities, has to be enforced by law.

Colleges – even community colleges – price out nearly all of their attendees. A tiny segment of the population can afford to pay for college straight out. Some good students get scholarships – most of which are severely limited in amount and scarcely make a dent in the cost of a college education. Some lucky students get grants. Many of these students still have to borrow up to the limit in Stafford loans to cover the costs of college.

Entry-level jobs don’t pay much. Paying off $40-, $50- or $60,000 in student loan debt takes a lot of people decades. The people who serve us, who work on behalf of the public interest – like teachers and social workers – they will take longer to pay off their loans than those who make a mad charge for the top of the business world.

A successful country requires good citizens, but it doesn’t pay to be one.

The lines of the castes in this country are not as firm as the lines in some other countries. An upward trajectory is possible. There are great American success stories every day. Pretending, though, that this country is equal opportunity, that capitalism rewards hard work and ideas above all else, that is all it will ever be – pretending.

Upward momentum doesn’t start under a mountain of debt, opportunity doesn’t thrive in rural or ghetto America, and gender and race dictate jobs and salary to a greater degree than talent and intelligence.

A caste doesn’t have to be laid out oppressed group by oppressed group. Giving some people greater opportunity, deserved or not, while limiting the opportunity of others creates one – no laws or decrees necessary.

When the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, a phrase so often thrown around, that isn’t capitalism. That’s a country’s caste sorting itself out.

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