2006/02/27

The Selling of America

Back in the 60s, one of the worst sins you could accuse someone of was "selling out." To Jim Morrison, to sell out was to "trade in your hours for a handful of dimes" — abandon your free lifestyle, retreat to a 9-to-5 job, and generally become a credit-card-carrying member of the "establishment."

We don't hear the term much anymore now that most everybody from that generation sold out long ago.

But these days, Americans are selling out on a grand scale. We're not just selling out personally. We're selling out the entire country.

Common Dreams has a great post today about multinational corporations buying more and more of America. It's not just a matter of pride. Profits that American businesses once put back into the American economy are now being outsourced to foreign countries, just like many of our jobs:

Foreign companies are buying up our water systems, our power generating systems, our mines, and our few remaining factories. All because "flat world" so-called "free trade" policies have turned us from a nation of wealthy producers into a nation of indebted consumers, leaving the world awash in dollars that are most easily used to buy off big chunks of America.

The post includes a long list of US government statistics showing the percentages of foreign ownership of American industries. Here are the industries where foreign ownership is 50% or more:

  • Sound recording industries - 97%
  • Commodity contracts dealing and brokerage - 79%
  • Motion picture and sound recording industries - 75%
  • Metal ore mining - 65%
  • Motion picture and video industries - 64%
  • Wineries and distilleries - 64%
  • Database, directory, and other publishers - 63%
  • Book publishers - 63%
  • Cement, concrete, lime, and gypsum product - 62%
  • Engine, turbine and power transmission equipment - 57%
  • Rubber product - 53%
  • Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing - 53%
  • Plastics and rubber products manufacturing - 52%
  • Plastics product - 51%
  • Other insurance related activities - 51%
  • Boiler, tank, and shipping container - 50%

Is this just the logical extension of the free enterprise system on a global scale, beneficial to us all? Or is it the shameless selling of America, for the enrichment of a few?

26 Comments:

S&P Hits 4 1/2 Year High

Check this Out::::
I am afraid it is the last one
it is the last one.

in an insane idea our government even wanted to sell off air traffic control - which would have made the UK the only country in the world to have privatised air traffic control
Please update your link to me as Static Brain has a new home. www.staticbrain.com
The answer is B: the shameless selling of America for the enrichment of a few.

The S&P 500 can go mental and hit a 20 year high, but unless that translates into a rise in the average American standard of living, who cares? Those of us with investments in 401(k)s or IRAs will realize a benefit... eventually, when we retire, but that doesn't help me afford a home or a car or college tuition or medical bills. In short Standard & Poor's has little to do with Standard of Living.

Until we measure our economy by the median American's ability to pay for housing, health care and higher education as a function of income to debt, then what we are measuring is not the economy, but the condition of the stateless, rarified elite: those who produce nothing and collect everything.

So far they're doing very well... even better if we can eliminate the estate tax for their parasitic progeny.
"Parasitic progeny" thats great but perhaps even they will not be able to buy their way out of the messes their parents are leaving them. Their wealthy progeny will simply prolong their lives longer than the rest of us. But all the money in the world cannot stop hurricanes and natural disaters. And we are approaching a point of no return, where what we have put into motion will stay in motion.

We can talk about society, who benefits, who loses, who hurts, who does what on whose back-- but the fact is that the powerful are in a position to change some of the devastating behaviors that are ruining this planet, and they would rather view that reality as the screeching of hysterics rather than the cold hard facts.

Their progeny must not be very important to them, because minimal reasoning compels a certain degree of environmental stewardship. Even some of the old school power hungry at least could acknowledge that and often at least tried to return some of their wealth to the public by many avenues.

Apparently the same defect that makes a person unable to see global changes and be concerned also hinders their ability to invest in higher proportions into their communities. Maybe a consequence of the multinational identity is the lack of- allegiance to the fate of nothing. Investment in the welfare of nothing but self. The nation will be replaced by the corporation perhaps.
What's so ironic is that 40 years ago an item imported into the US was considered pricey and exclusive, but now those same items cost less than American made ones.

The rich took their money to foreign countries and invested in industry, and then they flooded our country with cheaper goods. They made fortunes, but our jobs and wages slowly eroded and cost us our middle class lifestyles.

We were suckered into believing free trade would benefit all of us.
What ethic does this convey is a legit question. Lots of folks are taking their lessons from shady sources (read, Kenny Boy Lay, anyone in the W, Rove and Co, ect...).

Blog on friends.
The New American Ethic: The attainment of wealth is the paramount virtue.

To wit, the role of government is to protect the wealth of the wealthy, not the borders of a country. Bush, Inc. sees America, not so much as a country but a financial vehicle for wealth generation.
Is it selling out to take a shitty corporate accounting job when you want to be a writer?
But we are still the largest arms exporter in the world!
Hooray! One thing we can do. Wage war.
One industry still safely in American hands is the "message backdrop" trade. You may have seen them during one of our Dear Leader's patriotic speeches, printed repetitively with stay-the-course messages like, "John Murtha is a Tool" and "Wiretapping is American!" This trade employs tens of American workers, and more importantly, loves America!
Most of those backdrops are proudly "Made in America" by a 15-year-old girl on the island of Saipan, Marianas Islands.

The "Keep America Strong" backdrops and all the little American flags, however, are made in China.
Morrison wrote some great music. And true, he did not sell out. But he sure as hell never played the game. He just cashed in all his chips.
This is an interesting topic, and of course the blame Bush crowd is doing their part, but why are we so worried about this. epm says "Until we measure our economy by the median American's ability to pay for housing, health care and higher education as a function of income to debt" etc.
But if we use these things as a measuring stick, basically quality of life, we are better off as a country than ever before. More people own homes than ever before, more people have health care, get higher education etc. than at any time in our countries history. I think the real problem is that there is no such thing as free trade. If you looked at the "free trade" documents of NAFTA, it would take you 10 years and 10 lawyers to figure it out. If we actually had free trade, and let the market work itself out i think it would be good for everyone. The world is getting smaller, we can't stick our head in the sand and pretend we don't have to deal with it. Of course i don't believe in outsourcing any strategic assets like our ports, or air traffic control, or energy etc. but other than that i think free trade would benefit everyone.
countries? country's? a little help here......
Oh Rhino, you make it so hard to keep the spark in our relationship. Free trade, or FAIR trade? Don't make me...POST AGAIN!

What if we look at it another way? Maybe not economic standard of life, but quality of life in relation to all this improvement you speak of? Owning a home at 20 is indeed an improvement, and owning a car that costs more than a year's salary makes sense to some banker...progress. Credit and artificial market manipulations (AHEM "products", sorry) make many things possible.
There is a whole INDUSTRY borne out of giving people instant gratification.People buying houses that cannot get a membership at Blockbuster. YAY! Big cars, big homes, walk in closets, JUST IN TIME FOR PEAK OIL!
We are the biggest consumers of resources and we certainly have the biggest cache of hubris. Yet, we are no longer leading in information technology. We do not lead in infant mortality, life span, health, mental illness, stress related disorders, environmental stewardship, education, or disease prevention. We still have starvation, homelessness, seniors eating dog food, and children freezing to death at night. Ruth Sidell compared our nation to the Titanic, built for show and luxury, but not for steerage. Looks, not practicality."Women and Children Last". That is our progress, a strong ship. On a collision course of stupidity and disparity.

Yes, more get to go to college, build McMansions, and compensate for their viagra-propped masculinity with expensive cars and trophy commodities. ALL THE MORE REASON to ask ourselves why we are so wealthy, and yet we categorically SUCK so badly.

If we are so great, we should do better.
Rino'
It's 'country's'. One rule of thumb is using the apostrophe to show posession (as in "our country's history") while -ies is used to denote a plurality.
This economy and our society is set up so that you either sell out, or you have a VERY dificult life (like mine!). talk about a struggle. It's fine; it's what I chose, but man it's tough some times.

But I don't have to go into a crappy corporate job I hate anymore and I get to set my own hours much of the time, and hike every damn day. I am single, though, and people with families can't afford to make the decisions I have.

And I just saw an article last week about how Americans work more hours than ever before. So, they really don't have time to organize to complain or protest. And because there is no longer any job security as there was in our parents' day, people will work extra hours for NO PAY because they fear losing their job. I also read folks are AFRAID to take vacations.

And the pay of CEOs is 40 times more than their employees. Ten years ago it was 4 or something close to that.
Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

More people own homes than ever before

There are more Americans than ever before, ergo... However, As a percent of popluation, I don't believe this is true. More importantly more and more people have less and less equity in the home they "own." Many home owners cashed in their equity earlier this decade when they refinance their mortgage at lower rates and then bought cars and stuff. Indeed a growing number of home owners it's little more than renters with proprety tax.

more people have health care

OK, this is a POA (pulled out of ass) statistic. The number of Americans without health insurance -- in raw numbers and proportionally -- is at a record high. Those of us with insurance are paying higher premiums, higher deductibles, and higher medical bills.

get higher education

Not as a percent of population. And since we moved from a grant based student aid system to a loan based system, more and more young people are entering the workforce at lower real wages and record personal debt. The long term effect is that more dollars are going to service debt and fewer dollars to purchasing goods and services.

As a side note, the other day I heard that more students drop out of college not because they can't get more student loans, but because they're crippled by credit card debt.

Americans have continue to spend more than they earn. So much so that the American savings rate is now reported in negative numbers. And this is after you account for all the money invested (or not invested) in 401(k)s and IRAs.

No. We are not in good shape. Record consumer debt, record public debt, and the errosion of the moral safety net all add up to bad news for people without large international investments.

Let's not forget the Great Depression was the byproduct if easy, unsecured credit and the inability of people to pay those debts when demanded.

Consumer debt alone is $2,161,500,000,000, according to the FED, at the same time median houshold income has gone down, in real dollars, each year for the past five years...

*Pop*

But I don't "blame Bush." It's not like he's the leader of the richest nation on the planet, or anything. Just a simple guy clearing brush, and talkin' to folks.
Such thoughtful comments everyone - thanks.

Just one thing to add, that I don't think anyone mentioned. Today, it takes two incomes to get by. Back in the golden Father Knows Best days, folks got by on just one.
"pulled out of ass' statistic! I like that!
Bush, Inc. sees America, not so much as a country but a financial vehicle for wealth generation.

Hence the ludicrous Ownership Society.
More people own homes than ever before, more people have health care, get higher education etc. than at any time in our countries history.

Both of these are nonsensical criteria.

First, though home onwership is as high as it's ever been it has been at the cost of saddling the American family with mounds of debt. Not only does the American family pay more of their pre-tax income (as a percentage) to cover their housing costs, the type of financing that their required to use to purchase the median priced home usually ensures that they own less of their property in strict dollar terms and that the banks profit more.

Second, we may actually produce more college graduates than in times past (not sure don't have the statistics handy), but those graduates are saddles on average with about 20 times the amount of debt (inflation adjusted) that a graduate of 3 decades ago would have exited with.

Third...who is the Rinoculous?
this is dizzying and sickening at first read through here ... it's enough to make me retreat a moment into puerile humor ...

Add a comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link