I voted for Obama and I will vote for him again. He’s done a lot of good things in one of the most poisonous political climates in our history. And few politicians are more eloquent, as he showed us in Tuscon last week.
But his economic vision rings hollow at best. The platform he outlined in his state of the union speech is really just platitudes. The points below come from a right leaning blogger, but I think they capture the weakness in Obama’s thinking. I assume that many people would think it best for a fellow progressive to keep my disagreement with the president in house. However, we cannot truly move forward until we point these things out. If we don’t, all we are doing is providing cover for “our guy.” That’s not good enough for me.
The farther we get into this mess, the more I am beginning to be convinced that there is no way that globalism will make things better economically. Ever. Until we begin to have that discussion in the daylight, we won’t get anything serious from any politician.
Empty Promise #1: America Will “Out-Innovate” The Rest Of The World And This Will Create More Jobs
During the State of the Union address, Barack Obama promised that the United States will “out-innovate” the rest of the world and that this will create more jobs.
Perhaps we could create some more cutting edge products like the Apple iPhone, right?
After all, Apple iPhones were one of the most wildly successful American technological innovations of the past decade. Surely this is the kind of innovation that Obama would like to see more of.
Well, do you know where Apple iPhones are made?
Apple iPhones are manufactured in China by workers making about 293 dollars a month (and that was after a big raise).
But it isn’t just the Apple iPhone that is made overseas. The truth is that almost all high technology products are made outside of the United States.
In 2008, 1.2 billion cellphones were sold worldwide. So how many of them were manufactured inside the United States? Zero.
Not only that, another fact to note is that manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry was actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.
So exactly how is more “innovation” going to produce millions of U.S. jobs if all of the high tech manufacturing continues to be shipped out of the United States?
Empty Promise #2: America Will “Out-Educate” The Rest Of The World And This Will Create More Jobs
For decades, U.S. presidents have promised that “education” is the key to competing with the rest of the world.
Okay, if suddenly every single person in the United States had an extra college degree, would that mean that more jobs would suddenly start popping into existence?
Of course not.
Right now, we can’t produce enough nearly enough jobs for all of the college graduates that we already have.
Sadly, the truth is that we are already experiencing an epidemic of unemployment among our college graduates. According to the Project on Student Debt, unemployment for new college graduates stood at 8.7 percent in 2009, which was way up from 5.8 percent in 2008.
But that is not the whole story.
Millions of college graduates that have been able to find jobs have ended up taking jobs that they didn’t even need a college education for. The “underemployment rate” among college graduates is absolutely exploding.
In 1992, there were just 5.1 million “underemployed” college graduates in the United States, but by 2008 there were 17 million “underemployed” college graduates in the United States.
Many of our brightest young minds are now flipping burgers, waiting tables and welcoming people to Wal-Mart.
In fact, in the United States today 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.
Oh, but certainly the answer is to get more Americans to go to college, right?
It certainly sounds good in a speech for a politician to say that “more education” is the answer, but in the end all it amounts to is a hollow promise.
Getting more Americans to go to college will not create any more jobs, but it will create more debt. Americans now owe more than $884 billion on student loans, which is more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards.
Empty Promise #3: America Will “Out-Build” The Rest Of The World And This Will Create More Jobs
So Barack Obama says that we are going to “out-build” the rest of the world?
Well, that certainly sounds good.
But what exactly does that mean?
Does it mean that we are going to quit shutting down our factories and tearing down our economic infrastructure?
After all, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good since 2001.
So is Obama going to do something to stop the flood of jobs and factories that are leaving the United States?
No, in fact he intends to “increase” trade with countries such as China and India. That is going to mean that thousands more factories and millions more jobs are going to be “outsourced”.
Well, what about building up infrastructure such as roads, bridges, power grids, dams and ports?
That is certainly a very good idea.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.
So we desperately need some investment in that area.
But there is a big problem.
We are flat broke.
As will be discussed below, the U.S. government is flat broke. Not only that, our state governments are flat broke and our local governments are flat broke.
So where will the trillions of dollars that we need for infrastructure come from?
Obama did not even come close to answering that question.
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