Over the last few years, our government came up with one solution after another to fix our economy but none of them seemed to work. The U.S. economy seems so complicated that very few people can really figure out what is going on. Did anyone really comprehend how bailing out the banks would actually help people to recover their livelihood? Did anyone really understand why we needed the so-called “Super Committee” in Congress to decide what to cut in order to reduce the nation’s deficit? Are you as confused as I that the Super Committee came up with nothing!? My tax dollars were spent on 12 well-fed politicians in a room for over two months coming up with nothing!
Over this Thanksgiving weekend, we spent a record $52.4 billion dollars on shopping. This is good news because “consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation’s economy.” I have heard this line about the 70% of the economy many times, on radio, TV and in print, but what does it really mean? The best I could decipher from it is that when people like you and me spend our money to buy stuff, our economy will recover.
These things they tell us about our economy and how to fix it are like crooked roads that seem to lead nowhere. They are like mountains that block the view of what is really happening. It is like a deep and dark valley has been placed between everyday people like you and me, and the truth; we can’t possibly recognize reality. If we are to understand how to revitalize our economy, we need some straight paths to the truth.
Hector Delgadillo, CEO of Durbo Coil, bought a whole page of the Pasadena Weekly (October 20, 2011) to publish an open letter to President Barack Obama and Members of Congress. In this letter, he wrote:
“I used to buy Ralph Lauren suits, shirts and pants. They used to be made in the U.S.A. I paid top dollar. Then they moved their production to China. Funny thing though, the prices stayed the same or even increased. Why? Even when the manufacturing costs were lower? More money goes into Mr. Ralph Lauren’s pocket. And the lower costs are due to slave labor that is used to build these and other leading consumer brands: Nike, Puma, Calvin Klein, New Balance, Eileen Fisher, Apple, Motorola, J Crew, Gap, and Zara.”
So the people who stormed the malls looking for bargains are not the ones responsible for the recovery of our economy. In fact, their spending, however large, will probably not revitalize our economy in the long run. Take a look at the labels of the stuff people buy on Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. When we spent over 52 billion dollars last weekend, whose economy are we revitalizing? Not the United States! The clothes I am wearing now are made in the Dominican Republic, Columbia and China. In fact, everything I have on was made somewhere else other than the U.S.!
The English words "economy" and "economics" can be traced back to the Greek words οἰκονόμος, i.e. "one who manages a household", a composite word derived from οἴκος ("house") and νέμω ("manage; distribute"). When I manage my household, I track where my money comes from, and where it goes. If we are to be good managers of our common household—our nation—we need to take a look at where the money might come from first. The U.S. government doesn’t have it; the tax money we paid did not seem to be enough to cover our spending and that’s why we have the huge deficit. The banks have money, but they are not lending them out easily to the good people who need it. The 99%, as the Occupy Wall Street movement called us, don’t have the money either; that’s why we stayed up all night in order to get into the stores to get that bargain we need to save a few dollars. Yet the spotlights are constantly on us, watching how we spend our money – to save the economy.
Here is a straight path to the truth! The rich have the money; that’s why they are called rich. So, why don’t we put a spotlight on the rich and watch how they spend their money. Better yet, we can challenge them to spend their money in ways that will actually boost our economy. They are the ones who have the money to put back in circulation so that resources can flow through the wider system rejuvenating more people and communities. Here are some suggestions for the rich:
- Spend your money to buy U.S. made products even when it costs more. Why? Because you can afford it.
- Use your money to create local jobs in your own communities. According to a study conducted by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, that as of May 2011, there are approximately 10.5 million people living in the United States classified as U.S. dollar millianaires. If every U.S. millionaire takes a small fraction of his/her income and created 2 jobs locally, there would be 21 million new local jobs. This will guarantee the economy’s recovery. If you need help in creating jobs, just look around your neighborhood, town and city and see what needs to be done for the benefit of the community and pay people to do it. It is that simple.
- Use your influence to keep jobs in the U.S. even though it means you make a little less money. You will feel much better knowing that you are providing good salaries and health benefits for fellow citizens.
- Use your influence to make sure that the U.S. made products are of high quality and beneficial to the environment and to those who will buy them. Have pride in what we make and export them.
If you have other suggestions of how the rich in the U.S. can spend their money to boost our economy, write back and share them with other readers of this blog.
Reflection Questions for 2nd Sunday of Advent (Year B)
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Eric H. F. Law
For competent leadership in a diverse changing world
Come to Los Angeles in 2012 to study with The Sustainist, the first two opportunities:
February 27–March 2, 2012