Long-term Thinking, Indeed

Long-term thinking is a great idea! We should try it!

The funny thing about long-term thinking is that it only does you any good if you are actually thinking.

In my recent blogpost I was lambasted as a socialist. Let me be clear. I do not want us all standing in breadlines, or taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the less-wealthy or subsidizing stupidity. These are nothing more than talking points.

Our problem is not that our property taxes are going up because of the evil, greedy jerks who happen to teach our children. Our problem is that we have a lack-of-jobs. Not a jobs crisis, a complete lack of jobs. A crisis implies a temporary situation, and our lack of jobs is anything but temporary.

One employee can accomplish now in 40 hours what it used to take an entire team to complete. As employers are paid for productivity (profits up!) and employees are paid for time (wages down), where do you think that leaves the regular people?

It leaves us totally screwed. Jobs are not coming back. Those of us who are lucky enough to still have a job are clinging to it with both hands, knowing it won’t last forever.

You don’t even have to take my word for it. Check out this recent article on Forbes. The focus is on Generation Y, but the message applies to us all. Employees are a thing of the past.

Small businesses are doing no better than employees, by the way, so don’t look at them to save us. They don’t get the same cost savings as big business, and can’t afford to offer the same low prices as big business either. This leaves the consumer in a position where we know small business is the backbone of our economy, but, for our own viability, we can’t shop small business for our basic needs.

There is a reason you don’t hear your national politicians talking about jobs, except to blame it on the other guy. It’s because they can’t offer a solution. There is no solution. No one can force big business to hire employees they don’t need, or force distributors to charge small business less.

So when I talk about things like eminent domain, compost, solar panels and yes, even the darn chickens, it’s because I am trying to find solutions that will make us viable as a community into the future. Shop local, live local, produce local.

Cutting teacher pay might give us a delay on our tax bills going up, but that’s all it does. Our kids are going to need to be sharp to make it in the decades to come, so wouldn’t it be better to cut costs other than their education?

The reason every little cost of living increase stings so much is NOT because teachers are paid too much. It’s because you are paid too little. And that is not going to change. So go ahead, cut teacher pay. It’s not going to help you. As long as you are counting on the economy to turn around, nothing you do will help you. Once you accept that the economy as we know it has fundamentally changed, you might realize that doing the same things we have always done is not going to provide any relief.  

So yes, let’s think in the long term. But let’s not have a myopic focus on each and every group that we feel is getting it too good. We need to focus on real, long-term solutions to our problems, rather than focus on what to slap a band-aid on.

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John Bridges September 06, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Your article is very provocative and insightful. We live in an extremely dynamic world that even our parents could not foresee. Technology is changing the very nature of work, with, among other things, the hyper evolution of advanced AI. For example, what will happen to air traffic controllers when a single computer can do a better job than 50 of them? And what will happen to the countless number of salespeople when new direct-to consumer technologies are implemented, such as what Tesla motors is experimenting with right now? To me, this means that more than ever, we need a 'long view' government with an eye toward policies and legislation that will ensure progress and prosperity for all of its citizens as we move into a new age. Left unchecked and unconstrained, major corporations will certainly NOT respect that goal.
Jeff September 07, 2012 at 01:31 PM
"Our kids are going to need to be sharp to make it in the decades to come, so wouldn’t it be better to cut costs other than their education?" You equate education spending with education outcomes. The facts don't support your assertion. http://www.heritage.org/static/reportimages/796DF8C7C231CFFE366308277E88CF57.gif
Kathy September 07, 2012 at 02:49 PM
This has nothing to do with whether or not the "other group is getting it too good". It's about what the market will bear. And my goodness Kate, could you be more cynical? Cutting teacher pay IS going to help us, as well as finding other ways to cut expenses/reduce costs. We aren't "waiting for the economy to turn around", we are taking control and saying "we're not going to pay that anymore!" You say doing the same things we have always done isn't going to help, and yet you don't want to apply change to this situation! That's kind of hypocritcal isn't it?
Jeff Ward September 07, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Kate, Though your point was well-reasoned, you didn't go far enough. You kinda touched on it with the whole local thing, but that's not going to happen nearly fast enough. The reasons we're "paid too little" are twofold: 1. For the foreseeable future, this now truly global economy will continue to provide a vast pool of ultra-cheap cheap labor. American corporations haven't even begun to tap Africa. 2. The American people demand cheap Wal-Mart goods that feed the need for that ultra cheap labor. That's the dynamic that's killing us. Eventually the cheap labor will run out (it's already happening in China), but that won't help us right now. Throw in that healthy American entitlement mentality with our propensity to only want to be told what we want to hear, and here we are! Jeff
Max September 08, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Simple as can be -- stop buying what Americans don't produce.
Kate, Interesting Chart.Good question. Let's take a look at Productivity.It has grown nicely.Good for America as it helps keep inflation in control. Adam Smith told us long time ago-that Wealth of a Nation is created by 3 things. 1) Productivity 2) Technology 3) Natural Resources So Technology has helped productivity growth as your chart shows.That is something to celebrate. But what about JOBS? We have not properly deployed our natural resources and by that I mean Sun power(Solar),Wind Power(Wind turbines) and natural resources under our earth-like Gas,Oil,Coal etc. Look at jobs created by Gas Exploration during last 4 years.Although Overall jobs growth is dismal,Gas Exploration has created thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania. If we can properly utilize our natural resources and become 100% independent of foreign oil/Gas,that will be great. America can become engine of jobs--once again. What we need is?--Take shackles from our visionaries and allow them to create new industries and not let Government put roadblocks. Do you know--American Corporations are sitting on top of 300 billion$ of Cash-waiting for Fog to clear in Wash.DC. Hope they do not procrastinate for too long.
Productivity in Health Care has helped lower costs. Eamples: 1) Mother leaves hospital after delivery in 1-2 days compared to 4-7 days in 70's. 2) Out patient surgeries save money 3) New drugs,new preventative screenings save lives--and has raised our life-span by 4-5 years. 4) Some of X-rays etc.are now read by doctors in India etc. 5) Doctors are making less(adjusted for inflation) than the doctors in 70's.A gastroenterologist before 2000 made 1.5- 2 times more than now in our area.GP/Family practitioner makes far less than a dentist now as compared to 70's due to privateinsurance and medicare. This is to patients benefit. 6) Electronic records/billing is common for doctors/hospitals--not for dentists.So far it has added to doctors costs--but it has benefitted the patients in case of emergency. By the way-I left out productivity in farming-as source for wealth.Illinois is big in this area--helping Ethnol in Gas revolution. World food supplies /demand balance favors USA--and our Illinois state. I am very optimistic about JOB GROWTH--if we let enterprenurs fulfill their dreams and use huge piles of cash . Look at Steve Jobs.Businesses are ready to invest in America.There is no shortage of money/ideas.
Rick Anderson September 08, 2012 at 10:08 PM
There are 3,000,000 jobs that cannot be filled in America. That alone should suggest something about what is going on in America in more ways than not. These are very good paying jobs that require a technical background or a college education.
Brain Drain from abroad to US is one reason for high productivity.These highly educated people with engineering,science,medical degrees are FREE OF COST to USA--as they got their education abroad paid by foreign countries. So inspite of US educated people listed below many countries--we make up with Immigrants with talent. Remember Albert Einstein: He was an immigrant from Germany.His English accent was funny.
Max September 10, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Yes, in the past we had an immigration policy based on quotas from certain countries and regions of the world. There was also strong emphasis on the contribution a particular person was thought capable of making to our culture. Those days are long passed. Today, we let anybody in from anywhere, it seems. Our immigration policy may not be the cause of our problems, but it is one factor making the solutions more difficult. Whereas in the past we tended to hold on to foreign students who came here for the best available education in the world, now these students are going back to their home countries with their new degrees -- because that is where the fortunes are to be made today. The USA began its inexorable retreat from a position at the top when our government abdicated its responsibility to protect our economy and allowed production and jobs to be shipped overseas to cheap labor markets. As we are getting more and more used to seeing, greed triumphed over responsible leadership. And all this started well before the Bushes, so let's not put on the partisan blinders while examining the problem. Both parties are complicit in selling out this country. The modern definition of Treason shouldn't require the existence of a state of hostilities in which to provide "aid and comfort to the enemy". Countries are as often destroyed by debt as by war, and "the enemy" doesn't always fly a foreign flag.
Kate Bennett September 13, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I more meant that we always try to cut spending, but uising the same old tried and true tricks. If we did something like solar panels, at least we would be trying something new. It's been years that we (as a society) have been cutting pay, and this time it's teachers. I just don't think it's going to help if we keep doing it.
Kate Bennett September 13, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I don't see the cheap labor running out, unless there is some kind of global labor movement. If China decides it wants better pay, the manufacturers can just move their sweatshops elsewhere. It's sad but true.
Kate Bennett September 13, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I think solar would be great! Job creating, planet saving, clean energy producing. What's not to love?! However, I am not sure I agree that American corporations are sitting on their cash, waiting for the fog to clear in DC. I think they are sitting on their cash because they don't want to spend it.
Kate Bennett September 13, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Well, there kind of is a shortage of money, as it's all sitting in the hands of a few. Productivity is only a wealth creator for those who already have it. For those of us who makes wages, productivity doesn't do us much good. If we could find a way to get credit opened up a bit for small businesses, people with great ideas might be able to start business.
Kate Bennett September 13, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I am not sure I agree with the immigration piece, but certainly both parties are to blame for our economy. While I would love to chuck Bush under the bus on this one, I can't ignore Clinton repealing Glass-Steagal, or Reagan starting the whole trickle down myth. Each administration in my lifetime has added one more piece of the problem.


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