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Saturday, April 5, 2008

DC Once Again Behind the Curve

By: Carlton Huffman

The latest employment figures tell most of us what we already knew, that the American economy is in recession. Despite all the crowing throughout late 2006 and into mid 2007 about the soaring stock market, the American public was living a different story. The jobs that were lost in the 90's thanks to NAFTA and the recession of 2001-2003 never came back and the ones that replaced it were mainly lower paying service jobs such as those at Wal Mart. Indeed the US dollar has become a shadow of itself thanks to our nation living beyond it's means for decades while borrowing to maintain an extravagant combination of a welfare state at home and an interventonist foreign policy abroad. The consequences of DC's policy are indeed beckoning the chickens to come home to roost.

It wasn't always this way as at the dawn of the 20th Century the United States was the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. By the time of our entry into the First World War fully 40% of all finished manufacturing goods were Made in the USA. The ships that saved Churchill and Great Britain from Hitler were being made at the rate of 1 a day at the peak of World War 2. The military that in 1939 was the equal of Chile's had within 6 years armed and equipped 15 million men and transported them from the jungles of the New Guinea to the heart of Germany. This incredible capability came about at the hands of industrial patriots and a US government that sought to prosper America first and foremost. From 1789 till 1945 it was never viewed as America's responsibility to put our wealth and treasure up for building up others at the expense of our people.

Contrast this past with today's present. The US Army in Iraq for several years lacked the armored Humvees to combat the IED's which have killed scores of our troops while those same troops lacked the most up to date body armor that could make the difference between life and death in a combat zone. The reason, US manufacturing lacked the capacity to fill our military's basic needs in what our President has called the defining challenge of our century. Starting with NAFTA we have seen the politicians in DC lecture us on the need to tear down the trade barriers of centuries past to allow two dollar a day Third World labor compete with the minimum $5.25 an hour in North Carolina. The reason the experts tell us is the access to cheap consumer products that overflow on the shelves at Wal Mart. The real reason, plain and simple, was greed for the greater profits that come from a cheaper labor force. Congress listened, and the jobs flowed south as the masses of Mexico and Latin America flowed north into our cities and neighborhoods to take jobs at rates the rest of us can scarcely afford.

With oil at over $100 a barrell and no relief in sight, with 232,000 jobs lost since January, and the power of the dollar receding, it has been clear for most since 2006 that a recession was in the works. Yet to this day we still have McCain, Bush, and others telling us that the policies that got us to this point are not only a success but a way to go, it is no wonder that the American people have the lowest amount of confidence in Washington ever. While many maybe tempted to embrace the change offered by Obama and Clinton, they need only take heed of the meetings tha Clinton and Obama staffers had with Colombian and Canadian officials over free trade deals the two candidates claim to oppose but endorse behind closed doors. There's not a dimes worth of difference between the parties this year and only when we change DC by realizing that, will things change for those of us on Main Street.

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