Sunday, May 29, 2011

two ideas……

I’m sick of seeing companies pitting communities and states against one another for tax subsidies, with the receiving community offering more than they should to get the jobs, and the home community offering more than they should because they can’t afford to lose the jobs.

Here’s a solution.  If a government body offers incentives to an existing business from someplace else, they will lose federal funds equal to the incentives or tax breaks.  That way, a business and community will make a decision based on the merits of the move and not the incentives involved. 

It’s pretty simple; taxes come from all of us.  So, to use taxes from one community at the expense of another is like us negotiating against ourselves.  That has got to end.

The second is something I’ve talked about before.  We need to think of products coming into our country as tax payers, not objects.  What will it cost to dispose of those products?  What will it cost to house those objects?  And, how much social responsibility should come attached to those objects?

Right now, we have higher taxes associated with goods made in the U.S. than those produced outside.  Each of us is required to pay FICA and Medicare on all wages paid.  That is a tax paid on the labor to make domestic goods.  We have to pay property taxes on our factories and warehouses.  We have to pay income taxes on all goods produced, which are also a tax on the labor to produce goods.

As a guy who has products shipped in from China, I’m in favor of having tariffs on all goods coming in, the higher the better.  Then, we would be forced to work domestically, instead of the current system that forces us to produce offshore. 

Because the U.S. is a consumer dominated society, we have the appetite for goods and services that is unrivaled in the world, with markets and demand already established.  It’s a total no brainer.

And, maybe that’s why it won’t happen.

the dignity of the worker……

With the way the economy  has been over the past few years, I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations with people about work, or more accurately, the lack of work.  Unemployment seems to be as common as employment, or it at least it feels that way.

Many of  the conversations revolve and evolve into discussions as to how people define themselves.  Some who define themselves as carpenters or auto assemblers or welders or furniture makers have seen their livelihoods and their identifications leave.   They are no longer important, no longer viable.

Where can they find the importance in their lives they once enjoyed?  It used to be people did the same things all their lives and they retired, elevated into worker emeritus, someone to be respected for the work they did, the things they built, and the family they supported.

So, here we are, in an economy that reports that one in eleven is not employed, is not economically productive, and is dependent on the State to support themselves and their families. 

The jobs that are available don’t measure up to how they see themselves, that they are somehow better than what is being offered.  And, the jobs that are available, barely cover what they are being paid on unemployment.  Why should a person work when they get paid nearly as much, or less, not to work?

And, there’s the rub.  In an environment where workers have been treated like machines, where they’ve been disposed of like last week’s trash, where economic considerations only put them into this position; we’re asking them to make economic decisions that don’t make sense in a business way.

We’re asking the worker to act differently than the corporation who taught them to think in a “me first” way, taking the tax break, moving offshore.  We’re asking them to work when work is not the best deal for them.

While we feel it’s the corporation or the government who should lead us from the morass we’re in, it’s the worker who must.  We must rebuild our country from the ground up, not the top down.  We must rely on the dignity of the worker to do what sometimes doesn’t make sense.

Because, it’s the person who builds things, who gets dirt under the fingernails, who provides for his or her family who defines this country.  There is dignity in the worker.  There is dignity in work, no matter the task.  Let’s never forget that.

Friday, May 6, 2011

what now…..

Ding dong, the witch is dead!  What now?

I’ve waited a few days to write a post about the assassination of Osama bin Laden.  I think I’m ready now.

I’ve never rooted for anyone to die.  It seems not Christian, like it would make me like him, an evil doer.  But, I can’t help but feel some satisfaction over this, that wounds have been healed and unfinished business resolved.

So, here we are, the great Satan is no longer, but we’re still at war, still watching our own maimed and slain, still watching our own, away from home trying to make things right.

When will it end?  Who is the next Hussein or Osama?  Muammar Gaddafi?  When we kill him, who then?

In a global game of whack a mole, our government seems to stand over governments with oil or strategic geography, hammer in hand, waiting for the next head to bop. 

What happens when we don’t have heads to bop?

It never seems we go after the evil doers in countries that don’t have desired resources or geography.  Sudan?  Nope.  Somalia?  Forget it.  Myanmar?  Really, are you kidding?  Most of us think that is some kind of a shiny balloon fabric.

I’m not advocating we go after every problem in the world.  What I am saying is that I think we can tell the truth when we do go after another leader, that there is something in it for us, that we are working from self interest, not some altruistic vision of ourselves.

So, you can be a bad actor if you don’t have oil.  You can torture your subjects if you don’t have strategic geography.  You can do anything if you have nothing we want.  Because, in those locations, there is nothing for us.  As Edith Ann would say, “and that’s the truth”.