Vail Daily letter: Root of financial mess
Vail, CO, Colorado
I would suggest that achieving relatively full employment is the most daunting challenge facing our nation. But It is certainly vital if we are to satisfy our dreams of great lives for our children and a bright future for our country.
I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I do believe that I can make an objective analysis of what has gone wrong. In my mind, the problem began to fester when we embraced free trade while we did virtually nothing to keep our manufacturing industries here at home.
We watched in silence as the jobs that created real wealth moved to cheaper labor markets; our imports exceeded our exports; and our dollars went overseas rather than cycling and recycling in our own economy.
We virtually stopped making our own clothing, raw materials (like copper, steel, and aluminum) and electronic devices while we curtailed our production of cars, appliances and many household items. Manufacturing dropped from 20 percent of our economy to roughly 10 percent, and that represents a lot of relatively high-paying jobs.
While that began to happen some years ago, the effects were obscured by the fact that both our nation and we citizens went heavily into debt. In other words, we purchased more than we could really afford, which temporarily propped up retail businesses, restaurants, construction companies, service organizations, etc.
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
As our government issued bonds and we abused our credit cards, jobs were created in those sectors of our economy. Unfortunately, both the level of spending and the multitude of jobs that were created were not sustainable, and we now have an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent.
So, where do we go from here? I regret to say that I don’t know! Must we reduce our aspirations for the future? Should we insist on a balance of trade so that our imports do not exceed our exports? Should our stimulus programs subsidize new manufacturing facilities rather than providing temporary jobs repairing roads and bridges, or by temporarily retaining teachers and policemen, or by funding miscellaneous research projects?
Must we do it all? I sincerely regret that I don’t know. However, I am certain that politicizing the problem, assigning blame or half-baked solutions will be absolutely devastating!
David Le Vine