I retired a couple of years ago, which has given me time to reflect on my present circumstances and those of many others.
After my work life of about 50 years, I’m still trying to adjust to all of my new found time and opportunities. My life up to now has had the usual ups and downs, nothing particularly special or unusual. Mostly, I’ve been lucky enough to achieve a relatively simple, comfortable and peaceful day-to-day existence. My role model is a wonderful dog who, like me, is content to play, eat, and sleep.
Years ago I worked for a giant utility company, and after 10 years there I qualified for a small monthly pension. When I retired from the University of Washington, I began receiving a second, more substantial pension. With these two pensions, plus Social Security, Medicare, and supplemental health and dental insurance, my present income is enough to meet my expenses.
That being said, I admit that my good fortune may be distorting some of my views on what seems to be happening in our country these days.
A lot of people are hurting because they have either been unceremoniously thrown out of their jobs or homes or both. While I’m not smart enough to know all of the complex reasons why this has happened, I have my suspicions. One reason, I think, is that many folks including myself got use to a false sense of security, buying way more than we could afford. Easy credit was the culprit along with ourselves for seeking retail therapy to help us feel better about our lot. But alas, the stuff we bought––and for the most part didn’t need––failed to make us happy.
At almost the same time, more and more big companies and industries began systematically eliminating jobs of American workers. To replace these workers, many of their jobs were shifted to foreign countries where these American companies could pay lower wages, offer fewer if any benefits, and ignore health and environmental concerns. American workers who didn’t lose their jobs were asked to do more to make up for the absence of their dismissed colleagues, and do this for their same pay or even less and slashed benefits. All to increase the profits of their employers of course. Meanwhile, CEO salaries skyrocketed to indecent heights.
So what can be done to create more jobs here and reduce our high unemployment? How about discouraging outsourcing through sanctions and higher taxes to big businesses who transfer jobs abroad. Boycotting some large, especially greedy enterprises could send an appropriate message. Encouraging both American and foreign companies to produce their products here, and a major new effort to encourage Americans to buy American might also be helpful.
We could also work wonders by supporting mostly local small businesses and making almost all of our purchases by cash. If we can’t afford something, we could return to the days when our parents saved for what they wanted rather than using plastic. Wall Street and most big businesses and banks are primarily interested in taking more and more of our money with little or no regard for the public’s and country’s good. They are not going to stop, so let’s stop playing into their hands by doing business with them. Some of these changes might raise prices, but I for one would be willing to pay a little more to buy American and put people back to work. Making do with a little less so everyone else can afford at least the necessities of life seems like a good thing to me.
There are a variable slew of other issues America needs to resolve including equal rights and opportunities for all, health care, the housing crisis, charitable giving, the federal budget and deficit spending, the tax code, gun laws, our crappy congress, wars and the defense budget, crime, education, immigration, campaign financing, poverty, energy resources and development of sustainable manufacturing, the environment and global warming.
I’ll be writing about some of these topics later. Your thoughts and feedback are most welcome.