Is America turning into a 3rd world country?

Jenny - posted on 09/26/2010 ( 23 moms have responded )

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http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/14/third...

Danny Wilcox Frazier/Redux/ Robert Galbraith/Reuters/ Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
In February, the board of commissioners of Ohio’s Ashtabula County faced a scene familiar to local governments across America: a budget shortfall. They began to cut spending and reduced the sheriff’s budget by 20 per cent. A law enforcement agency staff that only a few years ago numbered 112, and had subsequently been pared down to 70, was cut again to 49 people and just one squad car for a county of 1,900 sq. km along the shore of Lake Erie. The sheriff’s department adapted. “We have no patrol units. There is no one on the streets. We respond to only crimes in progress. We don’t respond to property crimes,” deputy sheriff Ron Fenton told Maclean’s. The county once had a “very proactive” detective division in narcotics. Now, there is no detective division. “We are down to one evidence officer and he just runs the evidence room in case someone wants to claim property,” said Fenton. “People are getting property stolen, their houses broken into, and there is no one investigating. We are basically just writing up a report for the insurance company.”

If a county without police seems like a weird throwback to an earlier, frontier-like moment in American history, it is not the only one. “Back to the Stone Age” is the name of a seminar organized in March by civil engineers at Indiana’s Purdue University for local county supervisors interested in saving money by breaking up paved roads and turning them back to gravel. While only some paved roads in the state have been broken up, “There are a substantial number of conversations going on,” John Habermann, who manages a program at Purdue that helps local governments take care of infrastructure, told Maclean’s. “We presented a lot of talking points so that the county supervisors can talk logically back to elected officials when the question is posed,” he said. The state of Michigan had similar conversations. It has converted at least 50 miles of paved road to gravel in the last few years.


Welcome to the ground level of America’s economic crisis. The U.S. unemployment rate is 9.5 per cent. One in 10 homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments. Home sales are at record lows. While the economy has been growing for several quarters, the growth is anemic—only 1.6 per cent in the second quarter of this year—and producing few new jobs.

Even with interest rates at unprecedented lows, there is anxiety about the possibility of a double-dip recession. Sales of existing homes are at their lowest level in 15 years, and new home sales plummeted this summer to the lowest levels on record. Property and sales tax revenues have shrunk. And nowhere is this more apparent than at the local government level, where officials are being forced to roll back the everyday hallmarks of modern civilization.

Cincinnati, Ohio, is cutting back on trash collection and snow removal and filling fewer potholes.

The city of Dallas is not picking up litter in public parks. Flint, Mich., laid off 23 of 88 firefighters and closed two fire stations. In some places it’s almost literally the dark ages: the city of Shelton in Washington state decided to follow the example of numerous other localities and last week turned off 114 of its 860 street lights. Others have axed bus service and cut back on library hours. Class sizes are being increased and teachers are being laid off. School districts around the country are cutting the school day or the school week or the school year—effectively furloughing students. The National Association of Counties estimates that local governments will eliminate roughly half a million employees in the next fiscal year, with public safety, public works, public health, social services, and parks and recreation hardest hit by the cutbacks. A July survey by the association of counties, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors of 270 local governments found that 63 per cent of localities are cutting back on public safety and 60 per cent are cutting public works.

In August, the U.S. Congress passed a US$26-billion stimulus extension bill, aimed in part at saving teacher jobs. But it’s a finger in the dike. Jacqueline Byers, director of research for the counties association, said many local governments have yet to confront the full impact of the real estate crisis on government revenues because they do tax assessments only every third year. A fundamental transformation is under way. “When we come out of this recession we’re going to see government functioning very differently,” says Byers. “We are seeing more public-private partnership than we ever had for things like recreation and parks. We are seeing some of them privatize libraries. They lease the library to a private corporation that employs the workers who don’t carry retirement or health benefits.” Or they could wind up like Hood River County, Ore., which in August closed its three libraries altogether.

Some governments are looking for creative ways to replace plummeting property and sales tax revenues. Facing a US$1-billion budget shortfall, Montgomery County in Maryland appealed for corporate sponsors to step up and adopt porta-potties in its public parks. In the end, the privies were saved by a combination of park employees taking early retirement, a few private sponsorships, and a negotiated discount from the supplier, Don’s Johns. Meanwhile, Montgomery County’s school system, banking on its reputation for high standards and test scores, took the unusual step of selling its curriculum to a private textbook publisher, Pearson, for US$2.3 million and royalties of up to three per cent on sales. As part of the deal, county classrooms can be used as “showrooms”—which critics said effectively turns students and teachers into salesmen for a corporation. But the superintendent, Jerry Weast, told the Washington Post, “I tend to look at this from the perspective that we are broke.”

These cuts in infrastructure and education are more than just a temporary belt-tightening in response to a recession. They threaten long-term damage to American’s economic foundation—a foundation that has long been eroding. When the eight-lane Interstate 35 bridge collapsed in Minneapolis in 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145, the American Society of Civil Engineers warned that the infrastructure deficit of aging postwar highways and bridges amounted to US$1.6 trillion. More than a quarter of America’s bridges were rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Steam pipes have exploded in New York City and the levees failed in New Orleans.

Despite its position as the world’s unrivalled superpower, international comparisons show the U.S. slipping on a number of fronts. On education, the United States has been falling behind, in everything from science and engineering to basic literacy. The U.S. once had the world’s highest proportion of young adults with post-secondary degrees; now it ranks 12th, according to the College Board, an association of education institutions. (Canada is now number one.) In 2001, the U.S. ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use; it now ranks 15th out of 30 nations, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “We have been involved for three decades now in paring back public commitments and public spending, and that started with the Reagan revolution. We are living with the outcomes and consequences,” says Michael Bernstein, an economic historian at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, prolonged rates of high unemployment are taking a toll on families today, and will for years to come. Studies have shown that the longer a person is unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a job—partly because skills deteriorate, and partly because employers become suspicious of why someone hasn’t worked for a year. “The United States is expanding its underclass of a whole group of individuals who will become less employable, less integrated, more subject to criminal and other deviant behaviour—and probably become part of the larger problem of structural poverty in America as well,” says Sherle Shenninger, director of the economic growth program at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

Arianna Huffington sees an even starker big picture emerging from the reams of bad economic news. “As we watch the middle class crumbling, for me this is a major indication that we are turning into a Third World country,” said Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, in an interview. “The distinguishing characteristic of the Third World country is you have the people at the top and the rest—you don’t have a thriving middle class,” says Huffington, whose new book is entitled Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream.

America is moving “from the Jetsons to the Flintstones,” she argues. “The American dream was already based on the idea you could work hard and do well and your children will do better. Now we are confronted with downward mobility across the board. You have the phenomenon of unprecedented numbers of college grads who can’t get jobs.” The current public sector cutbacks in education and infrastructure will only make things worse, Huffington says. “You are both hurting people in the present, and basically undercutting your economic growth and prosperity in the future.”

But the problem isn’t simply a product of the current recession or the 2008 financial crisis. It is now well understood that for years Americans lived beyond their means on borrowed money.

The real estate bubble enabled many homeowners to borrow against inflated house prices, giving families the feeling that their wealth was increasing. It was all a mirage. Low interest rates and easy credit allowed consumers to spend enthusiastically, masking the fact that the standard of living and incomes were stagnating, and public and private investment was lagging.

Over the past decade, private sector job growth was sluggish. Combined with recession job losses, there are now only as many private sector jobs as there were in early 1999, a decade ago, while the population continues to grow. And incomes stagnated for a full decade—the longest such period since the U.S. Census Bureau has been keeping track of household income.

“There is certainly a serious erosion of both the American social contract and the American dream for a great majority of Americans,” says Shenninger. “There is a worrying trend that the private sector has not been able to generate jobs for now more than a decade.”

While business productivity increased—workers created more output per hour of work—that did not follow the traditional model of translating into higher wages. “Eighty to 90 per cent of productivity gains went to corporate profitability—which means that in order to make up for the gap in demand, working families resorted to relying on rising housing prices and debt,” says Shenninger. Workers lost the ability to bargain for wage increases as they competed with lower-wage workers in Europe, Asia and other emerging markets. Meanwhile, corporate earnings exploded.

Clyde Prestowitz, a former Reagan administration trade official and president of the Economic Strategy Institute, says the scope of the problem came into focus for him one day last year when he read, in the same newspaper, that China was launching a new 240-mile-an-hour high-speed train, and then an article about city leaders in Pittsburgh considering a tax on university tuitions in order to fund the municipal employees’ retirement pension plan. “I thought, the Chinese are building world-record trains and we’re taxing kids who go to school!” says Prestowitz. “We’ve been in decline for quite some time—we haven’t recognized it and have been fooling ourselves. But we’ve gotten to the point it’s hard to not see.”

There are numerous theories about the path America took to get where it is. Prestowitz blames the American approach to trade and globalization. A former trade negotiator who worked on NAFTA and advised Ronald Reagan’s commerce secretary, he argues that at the root of the problem is a long-term American naïveté about global trade, a case he makes in his book The Betrayal of American Prosperity.

American jobs are being lost not only to low-wage competition from emerging economies, but to strategic policies by foreign governments to dominate critical sectors of the economy, or to keep their currency values low to promote exports. “Other countries recognize the importance of economies of scale and promote the development of certain industries, whether solar panels, or semiconductors, and we don’t,” says Prestowitz.

High-tech plants and research labs of companies such as Intel, Applied Materials, General Electric and BP have been moving to China because the Chinese are offering subsidies in the form of free energy, free infrastructure, reduced taxes and discounted utilities. Prestowitz made the argument earlier this year to a meeting of White House economists who were debating the administration’s funding for alternative energies such as battery technologies. “My position was, if you spend all this money and not do anything about currency manipulation by China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, if you don’t do anything about the investment incentives being offered to companies like Applied Materials, if you don’t deal with all those things and just give money to some battery company—forget it, that’s money down the rathole.”

Prestowitz accuses successive American administrations of sacrificing trade issues to geopolitics. “The highest priority for the U.S. government is national security. We need a base somewhere or a vote at the UN, and we make an economic concession,” he says. Exhibit A: “The Obama administration has bent over backwards to avoid calling China a currency manipulator,” he noted.

Huffington blames politicians’ domestic economic policies: first, Republicans for tax cuts and deregulation that favoured top earners and corporations, and now Democrats for failing to undo the damage. As a candidate, Barack Obama accused George W. Bush of ignoring the middle class, she notes. But now Huffington criticizes Obama for campaigning on prioritizing the middle class and then failing to do so in the White House. “What happened is he picked an economic team whose primary focus has been Wall Street and who dramatically underestimated the depth of the crisis,” she says. “The emphasis has been on fixing Wall Street, which was bailed out without any strings attached, and which turned around and cut lending instead of lend more.”

Shenninger points in part to foreign policy: waging expensive wars overseas rather than spending the money at home. “Our priorities are horribly distorted,” he says. “We spent billions on new energy plants in Iraq and most of the money got siphoned off. We are spending billions of dollars trying to build schools in Afghanistan. But we are not willing to borrow at historically low rates to keep teachers at work or improve public infrastructure at home.”

Whatever the causes, the way out is not clear. While some critics are calling for a major program of reinvestment in public infrastructure and reviving parts of the U.S. manufacturing base, the politics do not favour it. In a speech in Milwaukee on Monday, Obama asked Congress to pass a US$50-billion infrastructure spending program to refurbish roads, runways and railways. But concerns about government deficits among Republicans and some Democrats make it unlikely that any large spending package could pass Congress—especially after the gains the GOP is widely expected to make in the mid-term elections on Nov. 2.
Republicans are calling for aggressive spending cuts. When Democrats pushed through their spending bill for local governments, Republicans called it a “bailout” of profligate local governments that overindulged public sector unions with generous salaries and benefits. House Republican whip Eric Cantor called Obama’s latest call for infrastructure spending “another play called from the same failed Keynesian playbook,” adding, “We need to cut spending immediately and end the environment of uncertainty that continues to impede real private-sector job creation and growth.” The GOP members on the House budget committee have identified US$1.3 trillion in potential cuts to federal spending. House minority leader John Boehner calls federal spending “a job killing agenda.” “ We have to remember that, even when spending is not at record-setting levels, each dollar the government collects is taken directly out of the private sector,” Boehner said in a recent economic speech. He added: “I’m not afraid to tell you there’s no money left. In fact, we’re broke.”

But where does that leave people like the good citizens of Ashtabula County, Ohio? How can they be safe from criminals without a fully staffed local police force, TV station WKYC asked a local judge in April. “Arm yourselves,” came the reply from Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey. “Be very careful, be vigilant, get in touch with your neighbors, because we’re going to have to look after each other.”

And so they did. In July, a group of farmers removed the safeties from their shotgun triggers and surrounded a trailer in which a suspected house robber was hiding while they waited for the county’s last, lone squad car to arrive.

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Krista - posted on 09/27/2010

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You make some good points, Kelly. However, is it even possible to compete with the Chinese in order to keep these companies from leaving? We're talking about factories where very little safety regulation is required, and where the workers make $100 a month, if that.



These corporations are able to HUGELY cut their overhead, even with the increased shipping costs. Even if they weren't taxed at ALL in North America, they could still make it cheaper in China.



The only way to really compete would be to lower North American working standards (regulations and pay) to Chinese standards -- and is that even acceptable in our society?



I guess I just get pissed off because these corporations were ALREADY doing extremely well for themselves and making very healthy profits, but because they're so greedy, they wanted more, and don't care if they completely screw over the people who made them big in the first place. And we coddle them and say, "Oh, please stay, we'll give you tax cuts, and we won't increase the minimum wage!"



I don't really see a solution to any of this, mind you. But it just irks me to no end that these corporations completely have North America over a barrel, and all we can think to do is ask them if we're doing enough to keep them happy.

Heather - posted on 09/27/2010

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Russia was a communist country, North Korea is a communist country. I would argue that true Socialism doesn't exist because human nature exists and someone is always going to get more than someone else. Take a look at Greece and the riots there. Greece can't sustain its "Socialist" policies of everyone having an equal share and they're cutting benefits and jobs....and most of Europe is headed in the same direction. As Canada happens to be about 10 years behind Europe, I'm sure we'll see those effects there too.

As for the OP, America is far from a 3rd World Country. About as far from it as Canada, Britain, or Austrailia. We're currently at the dip in our economic cycle that comes around every 20years or so, and barring a true National Disaster(the likes of which we've never seen)we'll be back at the top of our cycle in a few more years.

Sara - posted on 09/27/2010

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I have to disagree with the assertion that the richest 1% are leaving because they are being taxed so heavily. If you compare current tax rates as well as tax rates that would occur if the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy expire, the tax rate is comparable to most other Western countries. Rich people live here and do business here, and will continue to do so under most circumstances, because we live in a society that supports that system of wealth. We have cops, we have fire departments, we've got the infrastructure to support it. They're not going anywhere.
And, Socialism and Communism are two different philosophies, they don't exist together in the same system. I'm sure if you asked our Socialist-based system neighbors to the North (Canada) how things were going for them, they'd say just peachy. I don't think they're going to fail any time soon. Great Britain too.

Krista - posted on 09/27/2010

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Well, you're in good head-hanging company, because I honestly don't know. I don't think it's QUITE as bad, as a lot more of our industry is based on the primary sector (agriculture, forestry, mining), which can't be outsourced. Whereas your economy was more heavily dependent on the secondary sector (i.e. manufacturing).

Now, it also depends on where you live. Ontario has taken a shit-kicking, as we have (had) a lot of manufacturing there. Out here in the Maritimes, we never had a whole lot of manufacturing to begin with -- we've always been dependent on fishing, forestry, farming, mining, etc. Not that we're doing well, but it's been more of a slow, steady decline, which has at least allowed some other industries to come in and take up some of the slack.

Sara - posted on 09/27/2010

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I think this article is a little overdramatic. I think the gov't is taking steps to help with long term solutions for problems described in the article. But, as we emerge into a new world where we're going to have to come up wtih ways to sustain our way of life, we're going to have some problems. I, for one, am opitimistic that these things will work themselves out over the long term.

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Sara - posted on 09/28/2010

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"If the government would get out of small communities and let small communities and states run themselves then commerce would pick up, people would start helping each other and those that are going to fail would fail. I'm just a cold hearted bitch though that thinks not everybody can succeed at life."



I can almost see where you're coming from with this, but I guess for me the point is that there are people who, of course, will fail, but if you don't give people the opportunity to succeed by providing them with at least basic healthcare, a good education, etc, then you'll never really know if they could have been successful or not. We don't invest in our future in this country, and anyone who comes along and wants to improve the Public School System or provide basic Healthcare to the masses is deemed a "socialist" who wants to strip Americans of their freedoms, or they're "elitist".

Krista - posted on 09/28/2010

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One thing to keep in mind as well, Kelly, when you say that we need to give this corporations tax incentives in order to stay, is that in the U.S., most corporations ALREADY pay no income taxes, due to loopholes.



So it's a fallacy to say that they're leaving because they're being over-taxed. I mean, when you're talking about a corporation whose executives are making six-figure bonuses (I'm not talking about their salaries - just their BONUSES), and the corporation isn't paying income taxes, and yet they bitch about it being too expensive to do business in the U.S. and decide to haul ass to India or China...well, why can we not see that THEY'RE the ones with the problem? The problem being unmitigated greed, obviously.



Don't get me wrong. I'm all for companies making a profit. And I think that small businesses should get as many breaks and opportunities as possible. But these large, multi-million corporations, who boo-hoo about their expenses while paying each of their 45 Vice-Presidents exorbitant salaries? I'm not really pitying them a whole lot. Sorry.



If the government would get out of small communities and let small communities and states run themselves then commerce would pick up, people would start helping each other and those that are going to fail would fail. I'm just a cold hearted bitch though that thinks not everybody can succeed at life.



Well, considering how many of these people are CHILDREN, then...well...if the shoe fits, I guess.

LaCi - posted on 09/28/2010

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"3rd world countries do not have a high standard of health. Infant mortality rates and life expectancy are not up to par in the US. There are many other issues with public health. Lack of access for one example."



The infant mortality rate I really just don't understand. I mean, this is a state by state thing, but in indiana if you're pregnant you have medicaid automatically available to you for all your prenatal care, and children without insurance automatically qualify for medicaid. I really don't understand that part. Life expectancy I understand, I blame that more on our food and obesity rate, medication can only extend life for so long, even if everyone was treated our expectancy would still be off.



While the governments job should to be help it's people, our government's job is to control its people.





Fair tax, free healthcare, fewer laws, fewer prisons, enough with the raping and pillaging of other countries. It's really not a complicated situation, figuring out the things that are screwing us financially. The question is really whether politicians give a shit. I don't think they do. There may be some that do, but they're so few and far between that they have no voice. I do think we are comparable to a third world country, as far as structure goes. Crooked politicians, a nation of worker bees, slaves. Authoritarian-ish. I don't think we'll ever actually BE a third world country, in my lifetime at least, but if we are I hope I won't be here to see it.



I wish people weren't getting beheaded in mexico. I'd move there. Maybe I'll just move to hawaii, so I won't have to worry about citizenship and all that nonsense, but when the shit hits the fan I'll be far, far away.

[deleted account]

Taxing the top 1% would not be enough, and it would not help things. For one, the top earners are taxed at 34% for everything they earn over $250k so an extra 16% on such a small population is only a drop in the bucket--it would only cover like 5% of the deficit. Furthermore, ALL of the top 1% are owners of larger companies, or majority stock holders in large corporations. Considering the taxes their businesses are required to pay, most are taxed more than that anyway, which is why the manufacturing companies have moved their manufacturing divisions over seas.

If the top earners are taxed so much that they have the same quality of living as the middle class or poor, no one will want to strive to be at the top. It takes a lot of effort and hard work to run a company, why would anyone go through the pain and effort to do that, when they can reap the same rewards working in a low stress position at that bottom?

Aside from that, what is the point of taxing the wealthy to pay to educate the poor if there are no jobs to educate them for?

Jenny - posted on 09/27/2010

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Well if the richest people leave then the lower income brackets break wide open. They will never leave, in what other country can they fleece so much money out of the populace and have so much influence over their government to get away with it?



Also, we've NEVER seen Communism in actuion. China doesn't count, Communism doesn't produce billionaires.

Heather - posted on 09/27/2010

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You can't tax the top 1% of the wealthy at 50% because THEY would leave the country too. They already are...because they're being taxed so heavily. Here's an idea, why don't we just become a communist country like everyone else with socialist programs?....oh that's right, we know what happens to those countries. They fail. I'd be willing to bet if we stopped trying to help every poor community that can't or doesn't want to improve their situation and focused on doing what's best for the country we'd probably start doing better. If the government would get out of small communities and let small communities and states run themselves then commerce would pick up, people would start helping each other and those that are going to fail would fail. I'm just a cold hearted bitch though that thinks not everybody can succeed at life.

Sara - posted on 09/27/2010

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I guess I just dont' think the middle class will ever be back like it was. It may in the respect of home ownership, spending and things like that, but I personally don't think that people will be able to get jobs right out of high school making $60,000 without some kind of transferrable skills, like my dad's generation. It could be argued that those kind of practices are what has helped to bring about the demise of the middle class in this country. Unions striking their workers, who are mostly unskilled making $20/hour or more, to get more money. I'm not making excuses for corporations, but if I had to put up with that, I might be tempted to take my business elsewhere as well. Those days are long past and we need to face that as a country and move forward, IMO.



And there are industries that are growing, like medicine, where they actually have a shortage of people right now. Many new students are going into fields that they are pretty much guaranteed a job upon graduation. The folks that get liberal arts degrees or some other non-professional degree, not so much.

Jenny - posted on 09/27/2010

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How would taxing the wealthy not be enough? Didn't the top 1% clear over $1 TRILLION last year? Tax that at at a least 50% and it would make a huge difference. The income divide is a HUGE issue.

[deleted account]

I totally agree with you, Sara, that we need to increase standards in education, but where would the money to fund those programs come from? We cannot tax the middle class as it is disappearing as we speak, we cannot tax the poor because they are depending on taxes to support them, and we cannot tax large companies because we need them to create jobs. That leaves only the independently wealthy, which would not be enough.

The typical middle class employee does not need a college education. They can be trained in community colleges, on the job, or in career centers. One option would be to offer tax incentives for employers to train employees with transferable skills. Another would be partnerships with career centers and community colleges. Another could be a program that rewards companies who sponsor students through training in exchange for a job contract afterwards.

While it is great that more people than ever are in college right now, it will back fire if there are no jobs for them once they graduate. They will be drowning in student loans with not way to pay them back, then the lenders will be in a big mess again and the students will still be dependent on government assistance to live. In fact, we are dealing with a whole generation of college graduates who cannot find jobs right now. We must focus on bringing jobs First, then once a middle class has been reestablished, their taxes will cover costs for improved education.

Sara - posted on 09/27/2010

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Don't you think that we may need to increase our standards in Education as well? Those middle class jobs may never come back. We need a trained, educated workforce if we ever want to be able to compete in the world again, and if that's the case, then our local and federal gov't needs to stop cutting funding from education and actually try to revamp the choices for people when it comes to education in this country, IMO.



I work in Higher Education, and the University I work for has record enrollment this year. Maybe that will pay off in the long run, since there's no jobs and people are more willing to go back to school right now. But we also need apprenticeship programs for skilled trades for kids that aren't on the college/university track. If we want to lure companies back, then we need to give them a workforce that is competitive and trained.

[deleted account]

We could compete with China without lowering safety standards or pay in the US. One solution is to raise taxes on manufactured goods imported to the US. Unfortunately, that could seriously damage our relations with the countries that manufacture goods for the US, as well as raise prices for everyday goods Americans use. The rise in prices would be temporary though, only until companies relocated back to the US, and then people would be earning enough to pay the higher prices anyway, as they would be working in middle class jobs instead of depending on government assistance and minimum wage.

Most manufacturing jobs are not minimum wage jobs. Minimum wage jobs are not designed to support families, they are part time jobs designed to help kids earn extra money after school, through college, and maybe supplement retirement while keeping prices low in the retail and service sectors. The reason we have so many people working in minimum wage jobs trying to support families is because there are so few middle class jobs available at the moment. If we bring in more middle class jobs to support these people, there will be no need to raise minimum wage.

[deleted account]

Good question Sara, I would be curious to know as well... I don't think we are as much as the US but I might be mistaken. Anyone has any idea on it?

Sara - posted on 09/27/2010

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I hang my head in shame for asking this and not being more informed, but is Canada experiencing the same kind of corporate mass exodus for Mexico and China as the US ?

[deleted account]

I agree with a lot (but not all) of what the article claims. The middle class is diminishing as more and more people are forced to rely on government assistance.

We are in this situation because we keep expanding programs to benefit only the poor and not whole communities. Where does the money come from to fund these programs for the poor? It comes from over taxing corporations that create middle class jobs. They then move manufacturing out of the US. So next step is to steal funding from programs that benefit entire communities, like law enforcement, public education, and infrastructure maintenance.



Manufacturing jobs made up the middle class during it's hight, but we are forcing these companies out, then complaining that they leave. Well, duh, if China is offering huge incentives--free power, tax incentives, and cheap labor--the companies are going to move. To get them to stay, we need to offer tax incentives, electricity write offs and other benefits to make keeping the manufacturing divisions in the US profitable. Unfortunately, every time this is brought up, people complain that big corporations, which create middle class jobs, should not get tax breaks, that money should be used to benefit the poor, who do not contribute to the community. It is one thing to have a program in place to support people between jobs, it is another to maintain a program that is a way of life. The people on these programs will never get jobs that can fully support their families without aid, unless we help companies, and large corporations, create middle class jobs for them here in the US.

Jenny - posted on 09/27/2010

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The US exports raw material and imports finished goods. Manufacturing in the US has been rapidly declining for years.

3rd world countries rely heavily on financing from other countries while lacking ability to generate adequate domestic income.

3rd world countries do not have a high standard of health. Infant mortality rates and life expectancy are not up to par in the US. There are many other issues with public health. Lack of access for one example.

Government is often corrupt in 3rd world nations and used as a vehicle for personal advancement of the individuals at the top of the food chain.

So aside from a higher standard of living (which is being maintained through credit) and a big, shiny military what’s left?

Sara - posted on 09/27/2010

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"Is America turning into a 3rd world country?"

Yes. Haven't you ever been to a Wal-Mart?

C. - posted on 09/27/2010

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Just b/c there are still some very small towns in the US, does not mean the US is a 3rd world country.

Generally in those small towns, everyone knows each other. If an outsider comes in one morning, the whole town will know by lunch time. In those small counties, there aren't too many that qualify to be a police officer, either by age (too young or too old), physically or mentally unqualified.. People have guns, rifles, etc..

Some of the even smaller towns just don't have the funding to hire too many people. I don't think it makes us a 3rd world country, though. It just means there are more areas to populate.

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