A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Another Country

Written by M. Glantz. Posted in All Fragilecologies, Politics

Published on September 16, 2011 with No Comments

Reflections from my hotel, about to leave for the airport to go home…

I came to realize that the mighty US dollar is mighty no more. Its value compared to other currencies seems to be moving southward. Soon I fear it will be equal to the peso or dinar, or rupee or yuan. The prices everywhere move up at the same time the dollar’s purchasing power declines.

It used to be that the US dollar was a cherished, sought after commodity. Not so now. In Japan, for example, the value of the dollar dropped in only twelve months mind you from 94 yen to the dollar to 72 yen to the dollar at a Tokyo bank. Prices for goods and services in yen seem to have remained the same.

I have been hearing ever since I can remember that a comparatively weaker dollar is good for the US economy because it encourages others outside our borders to buy our products. But, now I ask, what products? What do we make in the USA?  What is it that we manufacture in the USA that others are seeking to buy in great quantity? What’s left that says on the label “Made in the USA”? We’ve outsourced a lot of it. In fact we have become primarily a service society, a society of paper-pushers. But wait… now we are outsourcing our services too. We’ve cheapened the real and the perceived value of the dollar and getting nothing of benefit in return; a formula for a downward spiral of America’s prosperity.

"Are we there yet?"

the Great American Depression: Are we there yet? Now apples are a buck each!

Decades ago in the 1960s there were several books around the theme of a post-industrial society. They recounted the mantra of developing economies where as economic development occurs a country moves from dependence on selling off its natural resources (wood, ore, oil, etc) and dependence on working the land to a manufacturing-based economy and then nirvana — a service-based economy.

At each of these three stages personal wealth and well-being improved for many people as did the quality of life. But, what follows a post-service society? What do America’s potential workers have to look forward to? These are uncharted waters, as far as I can tell. Will the future be a crumbling of that great service society, a crumbling that ratchets everyone down to lower levels of well-being (except those who benefit from the end of society as we know it)? Will it be a new, fourth, even higher level of development than before or might it be a logical return to producing something of real value instead of a society of workers whose purpose is to shuffling papers across a desk or transact in the virtual work of the Internet? Are we producing an army of unemployable citizens? I hope not.

I don’t know what the future holds for the fourth stage — a post-industrial society, but I sure do hope smarter people than me are thinking seriously about it. (and I don’t mean two-handed economists or politicians who blather about the future but have no real clue about what to do: “on the one hand… blah blah blah, but on the other hand blah blah blah…”)

My cynical side says they are not. WTF? 


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