Ok, so I just watched President Obama give his speech to congress about the economy and stimulus package. That guy can really put together words! In all seriousness, his speech tonight was very uplifting and encouraging, somewhat naive (though he knows that), and 100% exactly dead on. I like his no BS, tell it like it is approach. That is so refreshing!
One of my lifelong mantras is that I always buy American made product whenever I can. Yes, I know they cost more. Yes, I know sometimes they are not as good as other products, but often times they are far better. It is increasingly difficult to honor this pledge, but it is something we should all do.
It’s funny how often I hear politicians talking about Free Trade Agreements, and about how we live in a global economy. Bullshit. What they should be talking about are FAIR Trade Agreements, not Free ones. Is it fair that American companies pay up to 100% tariffs for products sold in China, yet they are allowed to sell their lead-based crap here? Don’t we have enough rubber dog crap and Nerf darts here already?
Is it okay for American companies to shut down factories in Detroit, build new ones just across the border in Mexico (or Canada too), and then come to congress with their hands out? Okay, let’s just pretend we give them $20 billion, what are they going to do with it? Mismanage it? Develop new products that people worldwide want to buy? Get a clue and get with the times? Fire the entire upper-management that got them into this mess to begin with?
Based on recent history I would say a bit of mismanagement and developing new products. The upper-management is not going to fire themselves, they have too much pride for that. Okay, so I’m an eternal optimist. Let’s say they stop laying people off (using our money to pay them of course), and retool to create some awesome new cars based on modern technology. They can do it, Americans can do it. Once these cars are designed, now what? Are they required to build the cars and batteries in this country, or will they be looking to outsource those jobs too? Remember, America and specifically OUR MONEY is what is going to buy them the time to develop these products. Are they going to turn their backs on us when it comes time to build them? They will, and they must be stopped. Stimulus money going to car companies should have more strings attached than a marionette. The jobs MUST stay here, end of discussion.
Likewise, the banks that are receiving billions had better start lending it. Their failure to lend money is one cause of the death spiral we are in. If they are getting stimulus money, they must be required to lend it and stop the cycle. They must be required to loan it to average Americans, not just those with ultra high FICO scores and those that don’t really need it. Hell, a revamp of the whole FICO scoring system should be made into law, but this is for a previous blog entry. Any system that rewards people for bad behavior should be abolished.
So that is how things should work, but what about reality? The reality is that we cannot depend on anyone in government, auto execs, or banks to get us out of this mess. Not even President Obama. His intentions are good and he is inspiring, but even as president, his power to actually make change is limited. It is up to us. So how do we turn this country around?
It’s quite simple really, BUY AMERICAN. Look at the tags on clothes and the labels on boxes. Commit to only buying American made products. Forget WalMart, until they feel it in their bottom line they will not be offering many American Made products. Support your local companies. Don’t always look for the cheapest item on the shelf. The better item will likely cost a little bit more and be made right here. If you cannot find what you are looking for that is made here at your local retailer, find it online, and give UPS or FedEx a few bucks to ship it to your house.
A global economy is bullshit. Like it or not, the entire world follows us. When we are doing good, chances are so are they. Look at the world economy now. We are in the tank, and so is the rest of the world. When we emerge from recession, the rest of the world will too. And if they don’t? So what. Think about fair trade, not free trade. It’s okay in my mind to occasionally buy products from other countries if those countries have established fair trade agreement with us, tit for tat. Hey, I love a nice Porsche as much as the next guy.
We are the only ones that can break the cycle. Government and banking don’t get it, and even if they do, they don’t care. Companies understand money, we must speak with our checkbook. Buy a Ford (one that is made here) instead of a Nissan. You just kept a few hundred Americans employed. They can now go out to eat lunch at a restaurant that is still open, and tip the waitress a buck or two. She can spend that money getting here hair done, and the hairdresser can buy a new copy of Windows (wait for version 7) to install on his computer. The programmers at Microsoft can now do some home improvements, and the construction workers and contractors can now buy a new Chevy truck.
No matter how many people are involved, or how big the circle is, we are all connected in this way. Take any one of the people and/or jobs out of the equation, and the economy is exactly what we have today, a mucking fess.