I recently came across an article written by Adam Taggart that I believe is worthy of expounding upon. In “America Isn’t Ready For Its Future” , Mr. Taggart offers thought provoking insight into this country’s current and future socio-economic state of affairs. For those that desire to and are capable of thinking beyond the latest lineup of Dancing with the Stars, I highly suggest taking the time to read this article. While I agree with some points, disagree with others, overall I feel Mr. Taggart presents points worthy of serious consideration.
At one point, Mr. Taggart posits, “Instead [of the status quo], shouldn’t we stop fooling ourselves and ask: What should we be doing differently?” Despite its simplicity, this question has serious implications. Not only does it suggest we’re collectively going about things the wrong way, it challenges the collective to find solutions to fix what we are doing wrong. In asking if we should stop fooling ourselves, it forces us as individuals to not only be honest with ourselves, but also…gasp…take responsibility for our individual actions…perish the thought!
THE TIMES THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’
The reality is this country is at a crossroads. As a collective, I feel we recognize that we can’t keep doing business as usual. However, changing demographics, a struggling economy, and inept politicians among other things make identifying and implementing necessary changes difficult. As we struggle to see our future clearly, there is the tendency to want to get back to “the way things were”. However, this is dangerous, as isn’t that what got us into trouble in the first place?!!
We simply cannot go back to the way things were. There are those that believe in the status quo and can’t grasp the simple concept that history repeats itself when you do things the same way you did before. These are the short-sighted same that advocate this country has turned the corner on our economic recession. However, without being fully past the crossroads we currently find ourselves in, I don’t see how we can be truly past our economic woes.
WE’VE TURNED THE CORNER…OR HAVE WE?
It’s understandable how some are able to come to the conclusion that this country is rebounding from its economic doldrums. Corporate earnings are up. The stock market is reaching and surpassing highs well beyond everyone’s expectations. Key indicators like the automotive and railroad industries are healthier than they have been in a long time. It’s easy to see how some believe we’ve turned things around.
Have we really turned things around though? On paper, it sure looks like we have. That’s the problem though, things look good on paper. Yet when we pan out and take a practical look at the big picture, things don’t look so good. There’s no real significant change in unemployment and the average American has less disposable income. Every indication suggests it is getting harder, not easier, for younger Americans to find quality paying jobs…no matter their level of formal education. These aspects not only question whether we have overcome our country’s economic dire straits but it also casts a continued pall over our collective future.
THE COLLECTIVE AND THE CAPITALIST
Despite the Capitalists’ attempts to come across as “kinder and gentler”, the reality is greed continues to drive today’s business. The status quo of greed-driven Capitalism continues to focus solely on profit at the expense of everything else. One reason why things look so good on paper is today’s Capitalists’ are investing in automation rather than human capital. While it may cost more initially to “hire” a robot, in the long run it costs a hell of a lot less to employ a machine to do the work that humans are capable of doing. This “increases” profit even when profit generation is down or stagnant. This also helps explain why there are less quality paying jobs available regardless of skill and ability.
While automation makes for boon times now, it will eventually become the death knell for the Collective and the Capitalist. Less people working means even less disposable income available to purchase the Capitalists’ products and services. One potential outcome will be the Capitalist will be forced to raise prices to the point that their products and services become unaffordable to the average American. At best, the Capitalist will remain in business if they are able to find a niche that their fellow Capitalists can afford. Chances are however the Capitalist will go out of business. Even in the best case scenario profits will fall as the Capitalists are too small a minority to support current profit expectations. Indeed automation makes things look good on paper now. Yet when applied practically the theory does not paint as rosy a picture in the long run.
As the Collective, we need to stop fooling ourselves and need to start doing things differently. Greed-driven Capitalism is not the answer. Being a puppet to profit, and supporting that puppet, is not the answer. Instead of relying on automation as our savior, the Capitalist replace greed-driven Capitalism with morally-responsible Capitalism. This requires an investment in what truly is important…human capital. Doing so will reduce profit in the short term yet ensure prosperity and well-being for both the Collective and Capitalist in the long run.
As Individuals we too need to stop fooling ourselves. As Americans, too many of us live beyond our means. We are too easily tempted by the latest and greatest (and overpriced) “gotta have”. We fool ourselves into believing we can’t live without something that up until now we were doing just fine without. Too many individuals lack discipline and self-control and believe they are entitled to something even when they are not. Just as the Capitalist needs to start doing things differently, we as individuals need to start doing things differently.
The reality is as Individuals we need to start living within our means. We have to resist the slick advertising and impromptu spending that has put too many of us too deep into debt. We need to re-embrace the belief that the basics like affordable food, clothing, and shelter must come before the latest iPhone and 90’’ LED TV. We need to become more involved in our families, our communities, and our government. Our ignorance of what lies beyond our own immediate self contributes to our lack of discipline and self-control. We need to learn how to start doing things for ourselves again so that we stop relying on others for our every need and want. This includes saving for the inevitable future when we are willingly or unwillingly no longer a member of this country’s workforce. Finally, we as Individuals have to stop assuming that just because we exist we are entitled to everything that we think we’re entitled to. The reality is some are more entitled than others. We as Individuals have a responsibility to realistically understand what our worth is and live accordingly…or take the steps necessary to change our lot in life.
For those that care, Adam Taggart’s “America Isn’t Ready For Its Future” makes for a great read. Mr. Taggart offers insight that provides a fine foundation from which to ponder this country’s current and future socio-economic state of affairs. This includes the danger of going back to the way things were, the fallacy that this country is now post-recession, as well as what we as the Collective, Capitalist, and Individual need to do differently to ensure future socio-economic success.