21 November 2008

My Mood is Following the World Markets; Down, Down, Down

I don't know about you, but I've become somewhat news-adverse lately. All the DOOM, GLOOM, WORLD MARKETS REACH A NEW LOW is starting to really get me down. It sucks. We here in Alberta have been somewhat cushioned, but with oil now under $50 a barrel, I'm not sure how much longer that state of affairs will go on. The thing I find most alarming is the volatility of it all. Record lows! Record recovery! Things are OK! They're crashing! We'll be OK! No we won't! We're schizophrenic and need some new meds!! Seriously, I hope things start calming down a little. And preferably not at the bottom part of the roller coaster.

Anyway, all of this is a segue to an interesting post on the Sweet Juniper blog about why the automakers deserve a bailout. I'm not sure that I follow all of Jim's reasoning - especially the argument that this industry should get the money because they are more deserving than Wall Street. They may be more deserving in some ways, but one undeserved bailout doesn't justify another. I did, however, very much like Jim's point about the importance of an economy that actually makes something.

"They say a sustainable model for future economies will trend away from globalization and be based more on localization... perhaps this could be an opportunity to start transforming manufacturing in the United States to a sustainable model that strengthens our economy and provides jobs here rather than just strengthening the portfolios of a privileged few at the expense of so many. But calling for the death of this American industry is callous and shortsighted, and I would add that slowly turning into a nation where no one knows how to make anything but hamburgers and silkscreened t-shirts can't be good for national security."

This is an excellent point. One of the things which made the United States, and the rest of the first world, for that matter, economic powerhouses, is that they paid their workers a high enough wage that they could purchase what they produced (i.e. if you work in a clothing manufacturing plant, you should be able to purchase the clothing you produce). The whole outsourcing to the developing world and paying people so little they can't afford a crappy t-shirt never made sense to me. Wouldn't it make more sense to pay your producers enough that they can buy your stuff, thereby exponentially expanding your market? I'm not an economist, but this seems pretty basic to me, as does Jim's argument that we should be producing stuff for and buying stuff from the people who live close to us, at least on a national level. It means paying more for some of these things, but it may also mean we are supporting each other, and an economy that can support itself.

I have to say, I hope Jim is right when he says that this is an opportunity for change for the better, if both the American government and ours are smart enough to take advantage of it. Because change is going to happen, whether we want it or not, and this is our chance to make the most of it.

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