How many of the 44 million people on food stamps own smart phones? I don’t know, but according to this story, 64.5% of new mobile customers signed up for low-end, pre-paid service in the first quarter. And that’s more than double the number from 2006.
Poverty is a problem after all. Who knew, right?
What’s amazing is that there is no serious effort, or even discussion about bringing the factories home. Sure, it’s fashionable now to say that “labor arbitrage is over”, but even if that were true, which it probably isn’t, so what? We are left with the horror of a vast swath of our population not able to feed themselves, let alone buy TV shows via an iPad.
As we sit here waiting for Japan to save us, by resuming the export of auto parts to Mexico, where they will be “assembled” by former US plants, imported into the USA, and then sold by our fabulous “service economy” auto-dealers so that our lackluster economic expansion can continue at a blistering 1% pace, one wonders exactly when we will see ourselves for what we really are: a developing nation in need of protection from foreign imports.
For a long time, South Korea was one of the few places in the world where you couldn’t find a Toyota to save your life. Why not? Because of their “Automobile Industry Protection Act” adopted in 1962.
But protectionism is bad, right? Surely it must have caused a disaster in South Korea!
South Korea now has the 5th largest auto industry in the world, and is nipping at Germany’s heals. See the league tables here.
We opened our markets to European and Asian exporters to help build them up after World War Two, and fend off the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
We saved the free world.
But if you think that we won the Cold War without paying a price, guess again.
The price is all too visible in our gargantuan national debt and massive food-stamp population.
Are we now a “developing” nation? Maybe not technically, but it would behoove us to act as if we were so that we have a chance of staving off such an outcome.
One of the few remaining items on the asset side of the national balance sheet is our huge consumer market. Sure it’s melting away as more and more people descend into poverty, but as the saying goes: “there is a lot of ruin in a nation.”
In other words, it might not be too late.
It’s time to start thinking of the USA as a developing nation. It’s time to circle the protectionist wagons, South Korean style, and adopt a national policy of industrial growth.
We have tried financial engineering. We have tried to mark-up the price-tags on our houses. We have tried to conquer oil-rich lands. And President Obama has tried to “double exports”.
It was all BS.
The “glorious” decade of wide open “free trade” with low-wage nations like Mexico, China, and India has SMASHED our economy.
And there is no political constituency to reverse the process.
None at all.