The mob is clamoring for a big, definitive “plan” to “create” JOBS.
The problem is, we are all yearning for a return to the prosperity and good jobs of the 1950s. A return to Middle-class America. That model of American prosperity lasted for a half-century, even as it was eroding away. That model lasted through the inflating 1970s, the greedy 1980s and the bubbling 1990s.
The middle-class model of America, with good-paying jobs all around — it’s over. We aren’t going back to the 1950s. It’s impossible. That’s where President Barack Obama’s JOBS plan has got to start.
If President Obama starts with a goal that can’t possibly be achieved, his presidency is finished. People must be made aware of reality.
The America of the 1950s was a unique golden age. America had just won the big war, America was the only power standing, America was the economic giant of the world. In large part, that era of prosperity was made possible by the old imperialist-colonial model, sucking resources from the undeveloped world, taking the resources home and adding value through manufacturing, with all the profits going to enrich the home country.
That world no longer exists. We cannot live in the past, and we cannot live in denial. We must learn to survive in the flat-world economy of the 21st century. If we set our goal as a win-lose competition with the rest of the world, we lose. Period. The rest of the world is no longer going to allow America to consume the lion’s share of the world’s wealth.
We must establish a new model for American prosperity. It will be possible with a more equitable sharing of our wealth and resources. It will be possible with realistic expectations for a 21st century, middle-class lifestyle. We must be happy with a good life, not an extravagant life. We must be generous, not greedy. We must be satisfied with “enough.”
There is plenty of work that needs to be done in America — rebuilding the roads and water systems, healing the sick, teaching the young, caring for the old, producing food and housing for ourselves, with some left over to share with the rest of the world. We must find a way to energize our people to do the work. We must organize our economy in a way that permits us to fairly compensate people.
I’m not at all sure that we will do what needs to be done. We must have leadership. I’m thinking leadership like FDR or Winston Churchill. Now, Mr. President, please define clearly: What is the realistic goal for American prosperity in the 21st century?
After that, you can proceed with your JOBS plan.
— John Hayden
References: For more information, please see:
- Jeremy Rifkin, “The End of Work”
- Tom Friedman, “The World Is Flat” and “The Lexus And the Olive Tree“
- Jane Jacobs, “Dark Age Ahead”
- Bill Gates Sr., “Wealth And Our Commonwealth”
- Opinion: Jobs Will Follow a Strengthening of the Middle Class (nytimes.com)
- An unequal society (room4truth.com)
- Obama Better Give One Hell of a Speech (jhaines6.wordpress.com)