I watched a nature show about seasonal cycles in some part of Africa. The rainy season brings such huge amounts of water that the rivers flood and water spreads out over vast stretches of land. The fish do what fish do: they follow the water looking for food. Then the dry season sets in and the water in the wet-season lakes drains back toward the main rivers, and every year, large populations of fish are cut off and stranded in small, rapidly evaporating pools. There were pockets of drowning fish packed gill to gill in three inches of mud. Their fate was to bake in the sun or become easy meals for any passing predator.
I remember the late 50s and the 60s and the sense of pride and optimism shared by the majority of US citizens. That was when the US was the major manufacturing nation in the world. We made all manner of things, and made them with pride. Moreover, the US was the major farming nation in the world.
Money used to flow in. Now it flows out.
Whereas huge amounts of money used to flow into the US and smaller amounts flowed out, now the trend has reversed. Huge amounts of money flow out for foreign petroleum. Huge amounts of money flow out for apparel and other manufactured goods. Huge amounts of money flow out for illegal drugs. Yes, I’m including that because the amount of money flowing out for illegal drugs is staggering.
Not only does this huge outflow serve to impoverish us, it goes into the pockets of groups and individuals who have no love for the US. We’re funding the wars against us. I saw an interview several years ago with a cocaine exporter from Colombia. He said he was happy with his work because he hated the US and hoped he was helping to bring it down.
That’s the big picture. The local picture is similar. Every US town has a multitude of national chain stores: Walmart, Kmart, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Home Depot, Office Depot, and the baker’s dozen of grocery stores. The bulk of the money we spend at these stores flows out of the community. Yes, they pay wages and property taxes which puts money back into the local economy, but that is a trifle in comparison to the amount of money that leaves the community, never to return.
Isn’t one remedy to stop sending our money out of our communities? Can’t I buy at least a portion of my groceries at the locally owned grocery store or from the farmer parked on the side of the road? Can’t I buy shoes and clothing made in the US, if I can find any? Can’t I buy goods that are manufactured locally, or regionally or nationally? If I can’t find it made in the US, do I really need it? And why am I supporting businesses that outsource their customer services to foreign countries?
Don’t be sidetracked by the claim that we’re a global economy. We’ve always been a global economy. That used to mean that wealth flowed in. Now it means that wealth flows out. We need to turn off those faucets before they drain us dry.
Remember the rainy-season illustration above? I have this fear that, if we don’t turn off those faucets, my children and grandchildren will be like those fish, trapped and drowning in an economic mud puddle. It’s already happening in small towns nationwide. It doesn’t have to be that way, does it?
In future posts, I’m going to give my two cents worth about the three gushing faucets I mentioned: petroleum, manufacturing and illegal drugs. You and I can save this nation, we can turn the tide, but we have to wake up.