Storage J

Fixing A Broken Economy
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Consider An Embargo On World Imports


By James Donahue


In reading all of the reports of global efforts for heading off fears of a world-wide depression we remember that someone in Washington . . . it may have been President Bush . . . once assured us that the U.S. would not stop imports of goods from overseas.

The comment started us thinking about all of the world trade agreements our country has made and how it might be difficult, if not impossible to consider turning off the spigot on imported products. And while on that line of thinking, it struck us that a federal embargo on imports might just be what our nation needs to fix a lot of things that have gone wrong. It appears that we have been set up for everything that has happened to us.

Imagine what a difference it would make if America could or would stop ALL goods from other countries, even the things manufactured by U.S. companies that moved to Mexico, China, Indonesia and other places to exploit poverty stricken areas that supply cheap non-union labor.

Along with this embargo our government should prohibit all financial dealings that make it possible for big corporations to operate out of obscure places like the Cayman Islands, a British Territory in the Caribbean that has become a popular tax haven. Most of all, there should be a prohibition against the United States borrowing any more money from other countries, or selling government-owned lands, buildings and bridges owners abroad.

We also suggest shutting down our wars in other lands and bringing our troops home to reinforce the blockade of our ports, major airports and borders, to make sure nothing sneaks into a black market.

Knowing how big business interests control Washington these days, we know that this is all a hypothetical scenario. But if it could be done, here is what we think would happen:

American stores would quickly run out of imported items. Since most of the stuff we think we must have to make our lives more enjoyable . . . new televisions, computers, stereos, cell phones, cameras, sewing machines, shoes, clothes and Japanese and European manufactured automobiles . . .would be unavailable. We would be forced to use the old things we already have or go without. You might be amazed at the things that would be missing from our store shelves.

Is that a bad thing? Indeed, going without certain food items like coffee, bananas, dates and spices will be a severe sacrifice for many of us, but it won’t kill us. American farmers still produce enough food to feed our people. And if people overseas get hungry enough, they will probably allow us to export excess foods.

Another critical loss would be oil. We would be forced to scale down our use of oil produced at home, pay extremely high prices for fuel, and get serious in our research to find alternative energy sources to heat our homes and alternative ways to get to work.

Placing our troops at the borders and in our ports and airports where overseas flights land would not only help solve the so-called immigration problem but put a quick end to a large part of the nation’s drug trafficking . . . at least stop the import of cocaine and heroin. Of course this would also make importing certain medicines like pain-killing drugs like morphine, manufactured from the poppy flowers that produce heroin, a thing of the past. We would have to rely on synthetic chemicals and, we might suggest, marijuana, to replace them.

Obviously, we are not economists but we believe that the financial benefits from such a sacrifice might be astounding. Such moves might do a lot to help resolve the money crunch, create jobs and make the United States an industrial and productive nation once again.

Such a blockade would make American workers vividly conscious of how big business interests have slammed the door on them. Other than farm produce and building construction, America no longer manufactures things. Instead we are a public service society. The jobs are mostly found in restaurants, hotels, home, automobile and appliance repair, legal and insurance services and medical. The other jobs are in government and include schools, police and the operation of prisons and jails. These jobs are provided at the cost of tax dollars.

If a total blockade such as we have described would go into effect, the door will be wide open in America for the small entrepreneur to start making the things we want and need. The art of manufacturing good shoes and clothes has been all but lost. But Americans have always been enterprising and if given a chance, we can learn. Many of our older women who learned as children how to sew, bake good bread, make rugs and hand-sew quilts from rags and darn socks are still around to teach these skills to the younger people.

We believe it wouldn’t take very long before thriving new business enterprises would be popping up all over the country, and America would be manufacturing things once more. Enterprising people with good ideas for starting manufacturing shops to meet the demands of Americans would be rushing here from all over the world to fill the void.

Why would this help resolve the American economic crisis? We see something like this stabilizing the economy by quickly erasing the national debt and putting value back in the dollar. Instead of pouring borrowed money into meaningless and deadly wars to bolster big business interest already located overseas, we keep our money at home to use for education, rebuilding our roads, bridges and crumbling infrastructure.

There would be money for a great socialized health program for everybody.

The Daily Kos recently published the following statistics: When Jimmy Carter was president the national debt was $660 billion. During his four-year term it increased $337 billion. We thought that was pretty high.

Then Republican Ronald Reagan got in office for eight years. The debt was raised by $1.6 trillion. Try to count to a trillion and see how long it takes. Try to imagine such a number. Who would have thought it possible that we would ever need such a number for counting a national debt? Astronomers invented it to calculate distances between stars and galaxies.

Not to be outdone, the next president, George H. W. Bush added another $1.6 trillion during the four years he was in office. The same amount of increased debt but he did it in half the time.

Democrat Bill Clinton saw another increase in the debt of $1.5 trillion during the eight years he sat in the oval office.

But George W. Bush has topped them all. The debt has been raised yet another $4.5 trillion after he took office in 2001, and his term wasn’t quite over at the time of the Kos report.

The Kos article noted that the nation was saddled with a debt of $9.5 trillion, of which $7.7 trillion was added during Republican administrations. Since then, after the big bail-outs of banks and lending institutions and all of the other projects launched at the end of the Bush Administration and then under President Obama, the debt has risen to $12.9 trillion. At this rate we are headed for a destructive financial melt-down.

National debt is the amount of money the United States owes other nations for past services and purchases of goods and services. This means that the commercial outflow of manufactured items from America is not keeping up with the imports we get from overseas. And it goes without saying that most of this debt is for oil and gas imports.

The higher the debt, the more the dollar depreciates in value. And when that happens, the U.S. Treasury finds itself printing more paper to meet demand. And as more paper goes into circulation, the less it buys. That is called inflation. It is a Catch-22 of sorts.

Thus we say the solution to this problem might be to just shut off the spigot. Stop buying imports. Start manufacturing quality stuff that people in other lands will want to buy from us, and then sell it to them.

This is obviously all a layman’s pipe dream. For starters, however, it might be wise to educate ourselves this election year on the candidates, beware of Karl Rove’s dirty campaign tricks and intelligently pick a slate of candidates that just might begin sweeping the corruption out of Washington.