America's Present an Overture to A Future Straight out of Sci-Fi?
by Dan Ehrlich

What the President Won't Tell the People
The 1973 future world film Zardoz depicted a utopian core society, surrounded by a brutal dystopian world. It was another version of “1984” fast forwarded to the distant future. But in this utopia work, sex and even mortality were absent to the point of the population being so bored they welcomed death as a change.

The recession is still on, no matter what anyone says to the contrary. And this comes from the top. “If you're still looking for a job, it's still a recession. If you can't pay your bills or your mortgage, it's still a recession. No matter what the economists say, it's not a real recovery until people can feel it in their own lives," President Obama admits.

Now, he may simply be trying show empathy with the unemployed while in another breath trumpeting our economic resurgence. But, the fact is the recession will be active as long as we maintain these high levels of unemployment.

And this is where Obama's apparent leveling with the unemployed and reality part company. What he and other politicians won't tell us is the truth, which in fact is obvious. We will have high unemployment here beyond a time when people will be able to recall when we had low unemployment. And neither he or any other president will be able to create enough jobs to bring back the good old days.

In those good old days, 1950 to 1980, we measured recessions by the unemployment level. Anything over five percent meant we were going into a recession. Now, however, we attempt to mask high joblessness by using gross domestic product as a measure of our domestic economic well being. The flaw here is, as employers look to cut costs and increase productivity through efficiency, they often wind up making more goods with fewer people.

What Obama and all our leaders seemingly have failed to grasp is that we are now in a new industrial revolution every bit as significant as the the 19th Century model. The new revolution has the world divided into two main zones, producer nations and consumer nations. The US and Europe , formerly the prime producers, are now the main consumers. Asia, with its dollar-a-day wage structure has become the main source of manufactured goods.

Our glutenous desire every manner of manufactured goods, the advent of computers and e-commerce has, among other things has made print obsolete, with the Post Office and even handwriting on the way out.

We in America have and are being hit from all sides. While much of our industrial base has disappeared with the rise of the Asian markets, we also have to contend with massive illegal Hispanic immigration, while many of our own industries have, under NAFTA, moved to Mexico. So much for patriotism when money is involved.

The current official 9.5 percent unemployment rate, 16 percent in real terms, might be much higher if we factor 12 to 15 million illegals into the mix. If and when they are made legal, this enormous addition to our job statistics might shoot the overall unemployment rate significantly higher. Of course a lot of this depends on how many immigrants actually stay here and wind up fighting unemployed Americans for jobs, jobs Americans formerly wouldn't do.

On paper our economy seems to be improving while the jobless rate remains high. In the long run this will be unsustainable…unless we drop down to near that five percent benchmark. Obama, as with Bush before him, trumpets job creation as the key to recover..well duh. But where are we going to create these jobs, jobs that Americans will do.

This is when the Arizona immigration law may be duplicated in other states. The prospect of an ever growing number of Americans being denied jobs being held by illegals will to difficult to ignore or resist.

Newspapers, something I am familiar with, are good examples of how computers have streamlined an industry. Again in those good old days an editor would make assignments to his staff, then go over the stories, hand them to the copy desk where they would be re-edited, then to the news desk where the pages would be designed and then sent on to the composing room where a team of people would set and print the stories, a proof gone over a final time before publication.

But this was before desk-top publishing. Today, the editor assigns stories, reads them, edits them, designs pages on his computer and electronically sends them to the composing room which can be anywhere and now run by a fraction of the old staff. And similar situations are happening to various other service sector industries.

Still, the big crunch hasn’t yet hit us. To gain a competitive edge, America has to become a low wage society since all parties and political leaders are tied to the global market and won’t enact trade barriers against the cheap and plentiful goods we love so much.

Ah, but what about the upswing in the economy? My guess is our economy will act like gasoline prices in reverse. For every upswing, we will drop down a bit more, until we have forgotten all about those good old days and accept our lot as just a major cog and major debtor in the international monetary system.

Fast forward to the somewhat distant future. American, or by that time Chinese industry will need to make things still more cheaply and having plants here, along the Japanese model, will be the answer. Yet, even at slave wages, American workers will still be expensive. Automation will be an alternative as it has proved today with the printing industry. So, with fewer workers being employed, the unemployed will have to take whatever part-time jobs they can get and depend all the more on government handouts.

Eventually some will go back to an agrarian subsistence existence, while others will rob and pillage. The elite class of managers, politicians and glitterati will just sit back and watch....we will have reached synthesis of Zardoz and Blade Runner. We could be a nation without a mass manual labor force, machines running most things, overseen by technicians. But wll it be so boring that death is preferable simply for being something new and unknown.

So, the President is right when he says the recession isn’t over. In a sense it has just. begun.

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