May You Live In Interesting Times, Part Two
The economy is in worse shape than we know.
The American economy was, and is, blessed with vast natural wealth.
In the 1700’s the streams flowing from the Appalachian Mountains were dammed to power mills that ground the grain and milled the lumber from America’s endless forests and the farms carved into the frontier. Exploiting the bounty of the land (and those unlucky enough not to be white, land owning men) created both the wealth to finance and the materials to build the young nation.
America’s major rivers, the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and St. Lawrence are a transportation network that allows the wealth of the interior of the nation to flow, at incredibly low costs, to ports across the globe.
The mineral wealth of America includes vast deposits of crude oil, iron ore, coal, copper, gold, silver and most of the other economically important minerals.
As population spread westward they opened the bread basket of the nation and the world, cultivating the fertile farmlands of the Midwest.
Even though much of the bounty produced from this natural wealth was exported that revenue was used to transition the economy into a manufacturing economy that propelled nation from a frontier society into the globe’s economic powerhouse of the 20th Century.
Today great wealth is rarely created by the material economy, rather finance, hi-tech, tech-com* and predatory capitalism are the paths to the limitless wealth of the one percent.
Now that the economy has turned away from producing material goods America’s agricultural bounty is exported at prices barely above the cost of production, forests are felled with the logs exported unmilled; no value added before export and no jobs created in the mills that once turned logs into building materials.
The farms that feed the nation, and much of the world, are now tended by old men and women because their children left the land in search of good paying jobs in the city, making it even easier for foreign buyers by buy up America’s farmland at fire-sale prices.
And what is not spoken by the pundits is that there is no economic blueprint to recreate a manufacturing sector, especially so long as our economy is flooded with low cost goods manufactured elsewhere and the Middle Class, whose purchasing power fueled the economy a couple of generations ago, no longer exists.
The body politic, the people, the soul of our nation, is also failing. Large segments of the nation are behaving like they’ve been in a civil war that both sides lost.
The left has seen Roe V. Wade overturned by the Supreme Court without so much as oral arguments being presented.
Activists on both sides demand justice, or ache for confrontation.
May you live in interesting times.
*tech-com = Facebook, etc.