Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter One

Truthout is hosting a chapter each week of Thom Hartmann’s new book, Rebooting the American Dream.  In last week’s Sunday Roast, I summarized truthout’s overview of Thom’s book, letting you know what each of the eleven chapters contained.

This week, Chapter One:  Bring My Job Home!

John Maynard Keynes, the British economist, believed in the private sector but also in a strong government role, especially during dire economic straits. Keynes

understood that demandfrom consumers drives an economy; and when consumers don’t have a job, an economy will stagnate or worse. So during a cyclical depression, the best response of government is to use government money—even borrowed government money if need be—to put people to work so they’ll have money to buy things.

Those expenditures by working-class people—on computers, television sets, clothes, toys, furniture, power tools, and so on—would help restart the economy, which would grow gross domestic product (GDP) and tax revenues, so government would be able to pay back the borrowed money and wean people off of government jobs as private industry picked up the load.

So, why didn’t the stimulus generate as many jobs as Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal?  What happened?  According to Thom, first, the stimulus was about 1/3 the size it should have been; and second, the stimulus DID create millions of jobs — IN CHINA.

So here is the first big way we can reboot the economy: lose our recent fascination—obsession, really—with “free trade,” get back to protectionism, and impose tariffs (import taxes) on imported consumer goods as we used to do. Let’s apply the lessons that our own rich history teaches us. In other words, let’s resume the manufacture of consumer goods in the United States, protect these industries from cheap foreign labor, and bring all those jobs back home.

“Free Trade” isn’t free.  The Founding Fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton, knew it.  Hell, he wasn’t even the first!  Hamilton got the idea from King Henry VII, who got the idea from the Dutch, who got it from the Romans, who got the idea from the Greeks!  Why did they keep using and building on the same strategy?  Because tariffs and protectionism work!!

Exhibit A?  The Reagan era through the present.  So-called “free trade” is kicking our hineys big time.

The post-Reagan era has been particularly destructive to our economy because we not only mostly eliminated the tariffs but we also became “free trade” proponents on the international stage. After Reagan blew out our tariffs in the 1980s and Clinton kicked the door off the hinges with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and World Trade Organization (WTO), our average tariffs are now around 2 percent. The predictable result has been the hemorrhaging of American manufacturing capacity to those countries that do protect their industries through high import tariffs but allow exports on the cheap—particularly China and South Korea.

But hey, we’ve got a service economy and rocking consumer society, right?  Thanks, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.  At least the “have mores” are doing better than ever.

Thom has a few solutions for starters:

1.  Charge a tariff on all good made overseas that give competition to domestic manufacturing, but keep those tariffs low on the raw materials we need.

2.  Get us out of WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, etc., and all purchases made with taxpayer money must be for American-made goods and services.

3.  The government should support emerging industries with funding, grants, and tax policy.

4.  Encourage Americans to set aside money in savings.

~~~~~

What we need in this country is for the President and Democrats to stand up for the American people — buck this insidious lie that “free trade” is the best thing for this country, because clearly, it is not.

Let me re-phrase that:  “Free trade” clearly is not good for our country as a whole, but it’s been absolutely fabulous for multi-national corporations whose bottom line is profits for themselves and the stock holders.  While that may be very good for them, it’s breaking the back of Americans.

So on that note, just suck it up and go for it, Mr President and Democrats.

Get yourselves in front of the cameras every single day, and tell us in no uncertain terms exactly what is going on in this country, and how we got here.  Show us you’re on the side of the American people 100%, and we will support you and your efforts.  Not just the people who voted for you, but many of those who didn’t.  Why?  Because a lot of people out here are almost completely uninformed, and haven’t got a clue what’s really going on, except what somebody told them or what’s on Fox that night.  People will recognize truth when it’s delivered properly and backed up with facts.

You have to do this, President Obama!  Not just to get re-elected, but FOR THE GOOD OF THIS COUNTRY.  The whole country.  Sarah Palin (spit) likes to say you gave a good speech…once.  Well, get yourself out there and give good speeches about what the hell is going on in this country!

On the other hand, if you extend tax cuts for the rich and let the sick and unemployed twist in the wind — we’re gone.  We won’t all be gone for the same reasons, but we will be gone.

And on your way out the door, stick a fork in this country, because it’s done, too.

This is our daily open thread — discuss.

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55 thoughts on “Sunday Roast: Rebooting the American Dream, Chapter One

  1. I was at a holiday party for the local progressive/activist Democrats last night and someone was saying that if Obama doesn’t start taking a hard stand on issues, then he will be a one term president. This same person told me that he had spent some time with the local tea baggers and they told him that what upset them about health care was the “mandate” which they believe (rightfully so) will raise their rates and that they would support a single payer health care program. Yes, you heard me correctly. They would support a single payer health care program.

    The blue dog Democrats really let this country down during the health care debate. I’m glad that many of them will be gone. The Republicans that replaced them are not necessarily in a “safe” seat. We tried to get rid of our blue dog during the primary but lost.

  2. We’ve outsourced more than just jobs, we’ve outsourced the destruction of the planet. Part of the reason manufacturing is cheaper in third world countries is the fact that many of those places have few effective environmental laws. I would love to see us as a country decline to import anything that was not manufactured according to the same standards that apply here. No child labor, no use of chemicals banned here, no dumping sludge into the open sewer that the poor use for their drinking water. That cheap crap will not be cheap in the long run.

  3. I’m with your friend on the Obama issue Cats. End combat in Afghanistan in 2014? Phooey! At least we finally get to use those damned expensive M1’s we purchased for the last war.

  4. Muse – that was quite the article. It’s downright frightening that the Republicans are willing to risk the safety of our nation and world for their own political purposes. We need to keep this chatter going. Republicans support terrorist by allowing them access to nuclear weapons. Republicans don’t care if a giant mushroom cloud appears in the US as long as they can continue with their obstructionism.

  5. HoR – what do I know. As far as a cat is concerned, it’s a rodent and it could be breakfast, lunch or dinner or maybe a snack.

    Muse doesn’t need to worry. This cat will never attack her hamster.

  6. As far as a cat is concerned, it’s a rodent and it could be breakfast, lunch or dinner or maybe a snack.

    Actually, it is way more than that, it’s a fascinating little toy, until it wears out.

  7. House, how does one tell the difference? – the ears? the snout?

    It’s still an apt gravatar from what we’ve read – Muse is a musician of said instrument this little fellow tootling!

  8. Morning all. A great article, muse. It is sabotage, with malice aforethought. And I am beginning to suspect the motive and patriotism isn’t even on the list. If one looks to what has become of the former USSR you find an oligarchic template where the moneyed power brokers seize control of the most economically viable portions of the former Soviet Union and cut loose the less than desirable or productive sections. It is modern day warlordism where might and money control the parts considered worthwhile.

  9. In “1984” that’s the point really. It’s not about the country or ruling or the people. It’s about power and nothing else. That’s the Republicans exactly. They don’t care about the good or the welfare of anybody they just want power. And with a 24 hour propaganda outlet that is pushed on more people than news outlet they have Big Brother convincing the masses of the lies.

  10. hoodathunk, it seems that if the moneyed interests followed that plan they’d keep the blue states and cut the red states loose. When you consider that the red states are the ones that get the most tax dollars back and then talk about secession maybe they’re the ones being played.

  11. Cats, all those former republics of the USSR that end in istan give a fair prediction of what our red states can expect.

  12. Hooda – doesn’t sound promising for the red states. So we could have Texistan, S. Carolinastan, Georgiastan, just to name a few. I believe Texas is well on its way to having a dictator with Gov. Perry. Without federal money, Texas would be third world Texistan. Maybe Austin could build a wall around it’s city limits. It would be a free state associated with the rest of the US. Kind of like Berlin and East Germany. Just ramblin’ :)

  13. Cats, the next few years, I think anything is going to be possible. I think the Oligarches are going to find the blue states to be highly resistant to their game plan. The red states would probably be more willing to play along but they lack the base to make it work. Industry is a blue state thing mostly.

    I think they are making a mistake in thinking America would fall apart like the USSR. The main reason being the Soviet Republics never really liked the idea of being Soviet whereas American states (and their populations) do like being part of the US.

    If we make it to 2012 without a major economic collapse, something I highly doubt, the next election will be highly interesting.

  14. The main reason I think we will have a new economic crisis is that I think the Republicans are going to do everything they can to shut down government money into the economy. Since the government is the only source of funds into the market, we will see a massive spike in unemployment. Without government influx, the markets are going to die because even if the private sector suddenly realized that the money they are hoarding is killing the economy, they can’t feed it back in to forestall a collapse.

    America is going to be in serious trouble before Easter.

  15. When I was young, I was taught by my folks — and maintained for several years — a hearty respect for the American electoral system. Then something dramatically changed. I first sensed something awry after JFK’s assassination; not that LBJ became president and was then elected to a full term, although to me the war in the Nam made no sense at all at the time. Still doesn’t. Then came ’68; LBJ stepped aside even as Nixon was anticipating his resurrection from the political grave he wound up in in 1960 and again after he lost the governorship of California in 1962. Still, in 1968, Nixon’s chances seemed to pale significantly when Bobby Kennedy announced his candidacy. If RFK could win the California Primary, the pundits figured, he could probably beat Nixon in November. So he won the California primary, and minutes after acknowledging same had a bullet in his brain. Nixon won, somehow. Made me sick to my stomach. Then he won reelection, got Watergated, resigned, and forward came Carter in 1976. Carter was in good shape in 1980, and probably would have sent Reagan back to Hollywood had it not been for … ahem … electoral meddling, once again, this time with the Iran hostages (much as Nixon had surreptitiously meddled, in the fall of 1968, with LBJ’s attempts to effectively ‘finish’ the war in Vietnam before the end of his term; LBJ privately defined Nixon’s actions as ‘treasonous’). Reagan ushered in 12 years of Republicanism, overturned in 1992 probably thanks to Ross Perot, in favor of Bill Clinton. In 94 along came Newt, then the Whitewater hearings, then in Clinton’s second term the impeachment attempt. In 2000, the right-leaning SCOTUS overrode the popular vote and appointed W. Bush as POTUS in a case which SCOTUS later said could never serve as legal precedent. In 08, Obama kicked butt, but the substantial Democrat congressional majority was successfully thwarted by Republican subterfuge; and now, they’ve regained the majority in the House and are threatening basically everything to destroy the Obama presidency once and for all.

    Etc. etc., the bloody beat goes on, and on, and on, and on….

    Makes me recall a couple of short verses by Emily Dickinson who somehow managed to define, close to 160 years earlier, the evolution, the emergent reality, of today’s American electoral/political system:

    Finding is the first Act
    The second, loss,
    Third, Expedition for
    The “Golden Fleece”

    Fourth, no Discovery —
    Fifth, no Crew —
    Finally, no Golden Fleece —
    Jason — sham — too.

    I’m still looking for that special and remote and peacful island — along with the means to get there!

  16. I’m still looking for that special and remote and peacful island — along with the means to get there!

    Solar powered sailing?!

  17. frugal, the machine has been in place for decades. It has been functioning and subverting America since Ike. It killed Jack. It killed Martin. It killed Bobbie. Then it went underground. It has resurfaced in the past two years, after years of subterfuge.

  18. Hooda: “the machine … It killed Jack. It killed Martin. It killed Bobbie. Then it went underground.”

    Heh. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’ve somehow gotten your hands on and read an advance copy of my book! :)

  19. And GHW Bush has been in on it since the beginning. Remember there’s a picture of him in Dallas when JFK was killed and oddly a Texan became President and kept the war going. Bush Sr. gets away with everything and is no probably an integral part of the scheme to destroy Obama and put Jeb Bush in the office.

  20. The 47th anniversary of JFK’s assassination should be interesting – if it even gets but a ‘passing’ thought by the media.

    It was such a profound event, this twelve year old thought it would always remain fresh in the nation’s memory. This peregrine was so wrong.
    And naive to think real news would always remain unbiased – truth does not always win out (heavy, heavy sigh).

  21. But, Shayne, the idea of some sort of conspiracy by rich people is pure fantasy! Rich people with generations of money behind them can’t have any interest in the government. That’s just tinfoil hat stuff.

  22. ebb, truth always does win out. The only problem is that it wins out years after it matters to the people living today.

  23. hooda, will keep that in mind as I climb out of this miasma the repugnant pigs have me in :{

  24. The truth is not convenient.
    The truth requires determination and dedication.
    The truth is unpopular.
    The truth can make you a heretic.
    The truth is not neatly wrapped in plastic.
    The truth is not bar coded
    The truth is not sold to you by girls with white teeth in flashy cars.
    The truth does not taste good like a cigarette should.

  25. I know the control of emotions is mine – but I can’t seem to rid myself of the vile feelings toward the repugnant gop.

  26. Excerpt from The Incessant Voice of War. Nick Dixon explains the conspiracy behind the assassination of JFK.

    “Think about it for a minute. The big rub with Kennedy had to do with two things: Cuba, and Vietnam. Now, he inherited the Cuba mess. Castro took over on New Year’s Day of 1959, and it was pretty much a full year before his communist ties were laid out for all to see. Meanwhile, Havana changed dramatically. Hotels, casinos, they all went down the tubes, and since they were all pretty much the purview of the American mob–Meyer Lansky, Johnny Roselli, to name only a couple–the mob was genuinely PISSED. It’s no big secret that Roselli and others worked intimately with the CIA and a contingent of ex-patriot Cuban exiles in their attempt to overthrow Castro. The CIA called it Operation Mongoose, and it was headquartered at the University of Miami in Florida. They hit the beach on south Cuba in April, 1961, less than three months after Kennedy assumed the presidency. Kennedy, of course, gave the initial approval of the CIA operation that Eisenhower had approved, and off it went. But then Kennedy smelled the rat in the soup, saw the trap as it was being sprung, and had the guts to say no mas to the operation plus take responsibility for the consequences. In three days, it was over. Kennedy got the blame because he refused military air support during the debacle itself, and afterward refused to order the US Military to invade Cuba. His name was shit as far as the Cubans, the mob, and several Black Op CIA dudes were concerned.”

    [ . . . ] “Anyway, where was I. Oh, yeah, after the Bay of Pigs . . .

    “Next came the Russian missiles, the blockade, and finally a resolution between Kennedy and Khrushchev where Khrushchev basically promised to remove the missiles and nukes from Cuba, and Kennedy guaranteed there would be no more invasion nonsense, sanctioned or unsanctioned. So there went Operation Mongoose, poof. Lots of pissed off people were left behind.

    “Oh, and word on the street has it that right after the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instructed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Lemnitzer, that from now on, they, the Joint Chiefs, would be responsible for all paramilitary operations during peacetime, thus ‘splintering the CIA into a thousand pieces’ as JFK had once said he’d do. I doubt Allen Dulles was too freakin’ happy ’bout that one. Anyway, in September of ’61 JFK fired Dulles’s ass, along with his chief deputy, a fellow named Charles Cabell. Know who he was? His fucking brother was mayor of Dallas when JFK was assassinated!

    “Kennedy’s other major sin was to sign a National Security Memo in the fall of ’63 that made it official he wasn’t interested in escalating the US presence in Vietnam, that instead he planned to reduce it, to basically pull out and let the matter take care of itself on the local level. Well, that meant literally billions of dollars in projected losses for the companies that were standing in line to make billions in profits from the upcoming war. Need I say more?

    “So when LBJ assumes the presidency, what’s his first act, what did he sign literally before JFK turned cold in the ground? A National Security Memo which reversed completely Kennedy’s policy of de-escalation and withdrawal, which opened the door to covert Black Ops against North Vietnam. It was aggressive shit like that that less than nine months later set up the bullshit Gulf of Tonkin Incident plus its war-enabling resolution that opened the door for a prescripted kick-ass WAR in the Nam. LBJ got HIS war and all his buddies got THEIR war even while a whole lot of gullible cannon fodder po’ folk found out they weren’t gonna be livin’ happily ever after no matter WHAT the politicos promised. DIE, man, fo’ yo’ COUNTRY, man!

    “Bullshit. Die for the Black Hole, man. Die for the tapeworm. That’s what it’s all about.”

  27. The MIC feared and hated JFK. He was a decent and honorable man and could have changed the course of history for the better. Same as MLK and RFK. Every decent politicians since 1970 has been torpedoed and America has been sucked into the Oligarchic dream.

  28. Years ago I heard some clown make a claim for a Kennedy takeover of America. Eight years of Jack, followed by 8 years of Bobbie followed by 8 years of Teddy.

    Just where would America be today if we had ‘suffered’ through 24 years of Kennedy influence?

  29. Where would America be? Five to ten orders of magnitude better than what we’ve become. And that’s probably the most conservative statement I’ve made in my entire life!

  30. To go back to John Lennon…Imagine!

    Where would we be today if we hadn’t fought the gas wars of the 70’s?
    Where would we be today if we had gotten out of Viet Nam in 66?
    Where would we be today if the run to the Moon in the late 60’s hadn’t had to deal with the next ten years of fighting for funding?

    Where would we be if we hadn’t had to deal with Nixon?

    Or Reagon?

  31. Nixon and Reagan were the two worst presidents in at least the last 68 years of the 20th century, far as I’m concerned. What a pity “they” took JFK out before he finished his otherwise guaranteed eight years. Too bad “they” took out RFK in June 68 simply to ensure a likely Nixon win in November 68. Too bad it worked.

  32. LBJ was the last honest president the US had. And he did it under duress because I suspect his ascension to power turned even his stomach.

    Ok, Jimmy slipped in there by accident and was totally screwed for trying to save America.

  33. I think LBJ feared for his life, early on at least. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had been given instructions as to what needed doing, probably shortly after JFK’s assassination. He sure did quickly turn the tables on the proposed Vietnam pullout (plus, seems to me I either read somewhere or saw in film that he appeared to be quite frightened on the return trip from Dallas to DC, but can’t offer any citation). OTOH, he made up for a whole lot with the Civil Rights Act when he signed it into law, also Medicare, the Great Society, etc. He upheld JFK’s legacy in some ways. But I wish I knew the whole story on the war business.

  34. frugal, I think LBJ got away with lots of stuff between 63 and 68. I don’t think the powers that be liked any of it but they couldn’t stop it.

  35. I think you’re right, Hooda. But he gave them the war and seemed to wish he hadn’t, esp. once the Tet Offensive grabbed hold of things. That’s when he announced he would not seek a second term, in March of that year. Then for the balance of his term, he did what he could to end the war, but Nixon and the Republicans were working under the table to convince the South Vietnamese to not knuckle under to LBJ, that they’d get a lot better deal from Nixon after he took over in 1969. LBJ knew about what the Nixon camp was up to and in private referred to it as treasonous, but he would never say so publicly. In any case, Nixon won and the war widened and basically just got worse and worse until his “Peace With Honor” a few short months into his second term.

    One has to think that Bobby Kennedy was the one who could have beaten Nixon in 68, and that if he had the war would have ended with dispatch, not lingered another four years. I presume “they” understood that quite well, and had him put down — the closing of the back door on the American coup d’etat that commenced on Nov. 22, 1963.

    LBJ was in the middle, and survived. He got a lot done, even hoped he could close the door on the Nam before his term was up. But he couldn’t.

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