By: Tom Chatham
Based on current estimates there are between 91 and 102 million working age Americans without a job. A nation cannot sustain a service based economy with that many unemployed people that contribute nothing to the economy. A service based economy requires a certain amount of money flowing through the hands of working people to support all of the service work done. When you eliminate a large percentage of those people the system becomes unsustainable and soon collapses in on itself. This is the situation we now find ourselves in as a nation.
The nation was sold on the idea of a service based economy as the new trend just as our manufacturing economy was being dismantled and moved overseas. This kept the masses quiet for a while but now the money created by workers that made real goods is drying up on main street. As the ability to make real products decreases, the ability to support service employees decreases with it. No amount of new service related jobs will fix the problem we now face because these people create no real wealth in the form of products to sell. As it has been said before, people cannot create wealth by doing each others laundry.
A nation’s wealth is based on the products it has to sell. Nothing else can create prosperity but the creation of real things. The only way to stabilize the American economy or any other for that matter is to have a sufficient amount of real production in that nation. The financial sector has been the best job market to be employed in the country for some years but merely shuffling money from one person to another creates no more real goods than someone shuffling paperwork around an office all their lives. With the manufacturing sector shrinking in the country something must take its’ place in order to maintain employment in real production jobs at sustainable levels.
With our manufacturing capability captured by other countries two of the only sectors left that cannot be shipped overseas are the mining industry and the agricultural industry. These industries create real goods that can be sold here and abroad. It is these industries that will inevitably help us to stabilize our job market.
The mining industry requires a great deal of investment in most areas to operate As a result this enterprise is not something individuals are able to do in mass. The number of large machines and people needed to pursue this type of production is beyond the ability of most job seekers with little in the way of funding. That leaves this industry to those companies with the knowledge and funding to make it possible. Even then, the hostile attitude toward mining our resources by the current government makes this a difficult proposition at this time. This is evident by the war on coal now embraced by certain individuals.
The agricultural industry is a different matter in many regards. It is within the ability of many individuals to create and operate a working farm from scratch. On a farm you can literally grow a product from seemingly nothing. Whether it is a field of corn or a herd of beef cattle, it is something individuals can do to create a real product to sell.
Because farming is a vocation that can be done by individuals or families, it provides the opportunity for those in need of employment to create their own job from thin air so to speak. A farmer does not get an automatic paycheck every week like his city cousin. Anything the farmer gets must be earned by real work. Real work producing real goods is the only cure for a nation slowly falling into an abyss of unemployment.
In the early 20th century about 30% of the nation still worked and lived on farms. This meant that the other 70% were employed in the other job sectors. Many of these jobs were in manufacturing and mining. The service industry was small and manageable at this time. There was sufficient real production in America to carry this small number of service employees.
In the current situation we now find ourselves in, we must rethink the dynamics of the past and incorporate that into our future. Only about 2% of the current population lives and works on farms today. The bulk of our production is carried out by large corporate farms and by the use of modern equipment costing in the many thousands of dollars that is used by most private farms to operate the large acreage they have.
In the last several decades the small family farm has been displaced by corporate monoculture farming. The small farm with its small size and equipment needs was well suited to families that could produce goods and make a reasonable living. It is this small family size farm that will be necessary to the rebuilding of the nation and to end the large numbers of jobless Americans. The expansion of small farms will be at the cost of the large corporate farms but that is a necessity for longterm viability and job creation.
In order for the nation to stabilize the employment in this nation, the farming sector must be repopulated by small farms providing homes, jobs and a real product that can be sold. The farm population needs to be expanded from the current 2% into the 20% range. This will relieve the joblessness and help to take the pressure off of the mining and manufacturing sectors longterm. Having this much of the population that is self employed and self sufficient in housing and food will reduce the strain on the need for public assistance as well.
The additional benefit of this many farms in America also provides a cushion in the event of a national disaster that cuts off transportation ability. The ability of small scattered farms to produce food and distribute it to local communities is a strategic asset in times of emergency that cannot be replicated any other way.
By rethinking the way we live and work we can repair some of the damage already done to the nation but we can by no means return to the level of production and prosperity we once had. Those days are gone and we must now focus on the basics of survival as a nation. The future will require a drastic lowering of our living standards but that does not mean we must lose our quality of life as a society. We must return to the simple pleasures we once knew as a nation and a people.
We must improvise, adapt and overcome to insure we have a future worth handing down to the next generation. The future is a longterm prospect that requires longterm solutions. The quick and easy methods of our current society must be refocused to the realities of the life we now must face. There are solutions to our current problems, but only if we are willing to seek them out and accept the inevitable pain that will come with the medicine
By: Tom Chatham – Author of The American Dream Lost
Many people have gone to collage and spent many hours of hard work preparing for a career they expected to be there and provide for them until retirement. Many of those people are now unemployed and cannot find even menial work to support themselves. The whole work paradigm in the U.S. has shifted. Many of the jobs that we used to have in the U.S. are gone and will never return, accept it and move on. Until you do that you will be stuck in a cycle of denial that will suck the determination out of you and set you up for repeated failure.
As stated in a previous article, The West Line and Americas Fading Glory, the domination of the U.S. as the world leader in production has passed and we will not get it back. A lot of the service related jobs that were created to fill in for the loss of manufacturing jobs were not sustainable and the national wealth we used to maintain those jobs is gone. We are shifting into a smaller, slower economy and those that can adapt to it will be able to provide a modest living for their family over the coming years. The standard of living that most Americans are used to is gone along with the jobs. Americans have lived beyond their means for many years and the shock of having to live a more modest standard of living will be difficult for many to adjust to.
There will be a market for high paying jobs in the tech industry and some other specialty careers but these jobs will be few in number and only the best in their field will have a chance to get them. Instead of hundreds vying for these jobs there will be tens of thousands for each one. Most people will be locked out of this high paying job sector so in order to prosper you must think in different terms. Jobs that provide a basic service or product to individuals will be the dominating sector in the future. It will be as it was many years ago where most people will specialize in one area that is needed by people on a local level.
The destruction of the job market will also spell the destruction of the big box stores and all of the products they import. Destruction of the national currency will make the cost of imports prohibitive to all but the richest in society. This will necessitate the return of localized production to supply the needs of society. The theory of economy in volume that created and enriched the multi-national conglomerates has reached a plateau, and the mom and pop operations that helped build and enrich this nation but were later destroyed by multi-nationals, will be to some extent the blueprint for future business operations. The increasing population and the rise of energy prices as our energy resources decline and become harder to extract, will necessitate the local production and distribution methods that once dominated the economy.
For those that have little chance of possessing the high paying jobs of the past, the future will require that you turn your energy and resources inward to embrace the vision of entrepreneurial activities. Creating a small independent business will be the best hope for those caught up in this new paradigm. The best businesses will be those that are labor intensive but require the least amount of equipment and infrastructure and can be shut down and reopened quickly depending on the economic climate. Those that offer products or services in demand by a populace that has little excess money for luxury items will find a strong market. Many of these types of businesses will require knowledge and specialty tools that must be possessed by the businessman in the conduct of daily operations. It is these tools and knowledge that will provide the value that customers seek.
Just to cite some examples to give you a better understanding lets look at four businesses. A butcher requires very little space and equipment. His value is in his ability to butcher many types of meat. A produce stand requires very little infrastructure. Its value is the ability of the owner to grow food that people require so they can eat every day. A mechanic only requires a well stocked tool box and the knowledge to repair cars. A carpenter only requires a well stocked box of carpentry tools and the knowledge to use them. While a butcher is locked into one task a grower can adjust to seasonal demands and produce different food products. A mechanic has the knowledge of mechanical equipment that allows him to repair things other than just cars. The carpenter can not only build a home but has the knowledge to repair and maintain it and to build other types of structures and even furniture depending on his abilities. You must decide what you like doing and acquire tools and skills in that vocation to create your own economic future.
One thing that most people need to seriously consider is the return to family farming. As discussed in the book, The American Dream Lost, about 2% of Americans now operate farms. Given the economic forces acting against us that number needs to increase to 15% – 20%. This will eliminate a large percentage of workers from the urban work force easing unemployment and provide stability for communities and families. A small family farm of 10 to 40 acres can provide employment, shelter, energy, clothing and food for a family no matter what the economic conditions are. For those that are considering sending their children to collage, that money may be better spent by buying 10 acres of farmland and some basic farm equipment and giving it to them to start their own business. No matter what happens in the future one thing is certain. People need to eat. One of the things that must also happen is the elimination of laws and regulations that hinder free enterprise and small businesses in particular. This must be done on a local level to be effective.
As the economy continues to deteriorate, those that foresee a return to local production and prepare to take advantage of it, will position themselves to prosper in the future. Large corporations can only be prosperous if the consumer base has sufficient spendable income to purchase the items it sells. With unemployment increasing and prices rising on many goods, spendable income will soon shrink to insignificant amounts. Those that foresee a major crash of the economy and are preparing for barter type services will most likely be some of the first ones with the ability to take advantage of the situation and prosper from it. Those that prepare for the transition to a new economy will enable an easier transition and help stave off the chaotic conditions that normally accompany these changes.