Business Week has an outstanding article written by Shoshana Zuboff. In it, she goes to her small Maine town and asks people about the economy. All the people she talks to get it. Not only that, but they are thoughtful about it. They understand at the heart of the problem, they can only help themselves.
This is my favorite exchange:
“What about the next President?” I asked. “Will he be able to help?” They all looked at me with a mix of tenderness and pity, as if I had just spit up on my clean shirt. “The government should assist us,” Arlie said, “but we’ve given up on that. They want to pacify us, not help us.”
All these things are hitting at one time. And don’t forget the things not mentioned in this article: People like my dad who took early retirements…people who are living off shrinking 401k’s trying to make it to social security.
And what about people my age? Social security is gone. I have absolutely no faith that it will exist in 30 or 40 years when I want to retire. Our government has squandered that.
It’s important to remember that tomorrow is promised to no one, though. No one said I’d have any way to retire. My own personal 401k is in the poophole, too. Pensions no longer exist because it was too much to ask a company to take care of someone for a few years when they gave their whole life to the company.
The article also touches on something I have been harping on for a while: The complete lack of our automotive industry to innovate. Capitalism failed us. The market was supposed to push the automakers to develop better and more efficient cars. Instead it led us to the lowest common denominator. Sure, you can have heated seats or headlight defoggers, but what we really need is a solar powered car. Only DARPA finds people interested in things like that.
Living in a former communist country, every day I see how that form of government failed its people. Our govenment is failing us, too. When corruption sets in, no government serves the people.
My own parents are turning back to an old school mentality. In May, they bought chickens to cut off the price of eggs. Will it be long before they are eating those chickens to cut off increases in poultry?
Remember all those jobs lost to NAFTA? All those toys and products that Wal-Mart hooked us on from China because they were cheap and the quality was just good enough? Shipping a container from China has tripled in price since 2000. Always low prices, though. Thanks Wal-Mart for closing down the means we had to support ourselves.
We are like people I know who can’t cook, so they eat out all the time. In this illustration, though, when the prices go up, they’ve dismantled their kitchen and have no resources to rebuild it.