These are perhaps the two biggest problems with the American economy right now. Were the American people not in debt and/or living with unemployment, I think the wealth disparity could be stomached a lot more easily. As for the Occupy Wall St. protests, the problem is that they eventually have to focus this incredible energy and dissatisfaction towards specific goals. I suggest they focus on these two goals, easing debt and creating jobs.

 

My suggestion for easing debt is simple and straightforward: forgive our debt. The US government, under both Bush and Obama, have used taxpayer money to bail out Wall St. This was a huge redistribution of wealth UPWARDS. I think Wall st. has benefitted enough, and now it is the people's turn to see the fruits of our "investment". You want to help homeowners? Forgive their debt. You want to help the unemployed? Forgive their debt. You want to help minorities, or the poor, or the sick? Forgive their debt. I am fully behind a re-redistribution of wealth which will benefit the 99% and would lead to more job creation and a stronger overall economy just by itself.

 

The other issue, employment, still needs to be addressed however. We are unable to compete globally in manufacturing when those jobs can be done for 40 cents an hour in China and elsewhere. Without manufacturing jobs, we are left only with a service industry which by itself creates less full-time jobs, pensions, health insurance... the whole gambit. We need to invest in our country and in its people, and this requires government spending, which is politically virtually impossible when we have been dug into such a hole of debt. There are jobs out there for scientists, but we can't all get them, and for many of us it is too late to learn, and we are still not investing enough in science for those of us for whom it is not too late, i.e. our children.

 

So my two questions are (and feel free to comment on anything you read here), do you agree or disagree with the idea of debt forgiveness, and what ideas do you have for solving the unemployment problem? Or do you just think we are royally screwed as a country and there are no feasible solutions?

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Good response, thanks. There's a lot I agree with here, so let me start with that. Your story is like so many others who are struggling and can barely keep up, let alone get ahead. Meanwhile the bankers are seeing record profits and getting taxed less, and the government bails them out when they need relief, but there is none even remotely in sight for average people and middle-class homeowners and so on. It's completely unjust. You are so right that we need to reduce military spending and stop getting involved in full-scale military invasions of other countries. It certainly wasn't necessary or good in Iraq, that was perhaps the biggest mistake in American history, and it wasn't even necessary in Afghanistan. We were doing pretty good with just special forces ops in there alone and could have killed bin Laden quickly without bringing in our entire Army and turning the entire population against us, and at far less expense. Obama's strategy of "leading from the rear" and providing support to revolution in Libya made perfect sense and worked perfectly, we might do well to provide a no-fly over Syria (only because they are now asking for it, as the Libyans did), and that should be the degree we should get involved in other countries affairs unless one of them declares war on us. Not sure what to do about N. Korea and Iran though...

 

We definitely shouldn't be bailing out any more corporations, but we need to wind down the system which has made them too big to fail, and right now we aren't making enough progress on that front.

 

Reproduction is a whole other issue, too big to manage in a short reply. It is vastly more complicated than you are making it though. By that argument, only rich people should be allowed to have babies. Not sure where that line of reasoning takes us.

 

We should be moving towards not borrowing money from other countries at all, we are supposed to be the richest nation in the world, so why are we in debt again? Spend within our means. Until then China is a great place to borrow from, because they want to lend to us. Not sustainable though to be sure. And yes, we need to invest in America, in infrastructure, education, and we need real universal health care and we need to reform the tax code, and probably a million other common-sense ideas to get us going again.

 

I don't agree that Occupy is pointless. Look at what the Tea Party did, they got a lot of folks elected who came in with the real representation of what their ideology stands for. Of course, that ideology was revealed to be the cause of, not the solution to, our problems. If we can do the same on the left, maybe we can get some real change in this country, unlike what Obama has done (or not done). It's hardly a moot point that the government is working only for the 1%, that we have a plutocracy and a bought government, and that all the wealth in the country is concentrated in the hands of a very small number of aristocratic financiers. We need real democratic reform, real economic reform, not more of the same, and the more people out there drumming up support for these ideas the better.

d and e

corporate greed
I hear oligarchy statements now and again

Forgive debt isn't a simple choice to be made by one government. US debt to foreign governments isn't something we can magic away with a wand.
Not what I was getting at. Of course we can't simply forgive our own debt as a nation to China, for example. My wife said the same thing. What we can do is forgive debts Americans owe to other Americans. Handling our foreign debt is a matter of borrowing less and boosting our economy more by choosing what we spend on wisely, investing in education and infrastructure (in its braodest sense!), and lo and behold! forgiving our debts to Wall St. itself would have a huge stimilatory effect on our economy.
That certainly is A problem. It also certainly isn't the only problem.
How about we be responsible, and pay off our debt?  I'm about to be debt free after working my ass off for two years, and I'm not going to screw anyone in the process.  Oh that's right, that'd entail too much personal responsibility.
First, I'd agree with you that it's complete and utter bullshit that all of the banks and financial institutions got bailed out.  However, that is what you get when you look to the government for a solution to a problem, that they pretty much created, or expect the government to be so involved in the economy.  Second, yes it wasn't a ton of debt, but it wasn't easy to do either.  Even people with a lot more debt can get out of it making 30k to 40k a year in your scenario.  It takes a lot of discipline and hard work, but it can be done. Third, there's that personal responsibility thing, and if you are foolish enough to get yourself into so much debt that you can't get out of it, then you deserve to have some hard times.  You either knowingly entered into agreements that you couldn't afford, just weren't smart enough to do a budget, or fell on some hard times.  Bankruptcy is an option for people who have fallen on hard times.  No one forced anyone to take out any loans.  No one is putting a gun to anyone's head to use a credit card.  You entered into a mutually beneficial agreement, and you should live up to the terms of the agreement.  The companies should lose out too if they make a bad decision to lend money to people that can't afford it.  Both parties should be held to account.

I think it's sad that a majority of Americans view the government as a "them" rather than an "us". Granted, right now the government pretty much serves corporations, but to rally behind the Regan idea that "government is the problem" is wrong, in my opinion. The government is supposed to represent the people. It is supposed to be a regulator acting according to the interests of the democratic majority. Instead, the government acts as an instrument of America's rich and powerful, which is contrary to its duty.

 

So when a hand full of bankers (who are acting as trusted professionals to consumers who know very little about banking) peddle subprime mortgages to unknowledgeable  citizens and crash the economy of the world, all while paying themselves record bonuses, of course we are going to look to the government to correct the problem. That is the government's job (an instrument of the citizenry).

Sad to say, your view on this topic lacks an understanding of the complexities of the financial markets and the tricks of the trade within banking. You forget that banks have large groups of attorneys with loads of experience to contrive credit card and mortgage contracts that mislead consumers and are rigged in a manner in which the "house" (the bank) always wins. 

Here here!

You seriously think the government speaks for every person in this country and could come up with policies that benefited every person in this country?  Or do you think that getting enough people together enables you to steal from the better off?  The government's job should only be to protect individual liberty.  People should be free to do as they please from there.

 

If the banks are so evil, why are so many people doing business with them?  It was a failure of our government to bail the banks out, just like it would be a failure of our government if we bailed out people of their debt.  

2 years? Wow, that's pretty good. How do you suppose people with $30-40k in student loan debt, a car payment, rent, utilities, food, etc will be able to pay off that debt in a short amount of time?

The international financial markets are very sensitive to perception of financial health of any given country. Deciding not to honor our national debt would destroy the international and domestic financial markets. Besides, our national debt can be easily paid off if we were capable of balancing our budget (namely removing inappropriate tax loopholes and tax breaks).

 

As far as individual debt, there should be a federal push to require banks to write-down mortgages to their current fair value on the premise that they were a major contributor to the housing bubble and inflated prices in the first place. Federal fines and criminal charges on the companies themselves should be forgiven on the condition that every mortgage get written down to its fair value. Individual executives should still be subject to criminal charges if applicable.

As for the unemployment problem, I believe that we should revert to a somewhat protectionist trade system, with tariffs on imports and penalties for off shoring jobs. We should not be giving tax credits to companies who ship jobs overseas. There should be a large governmental investment in national infrastructure, requiring that all materials and labor be obtained domestically. (this was a provision in the original stimulus package that was removed by Republicans at the request of the Chamber of Commerce).

All of this should be paid for by an tax on companies over a certain size who conduct in interstate commerce. Remember, companies like WalMart, GE, etc. get a heck of a lot more use out of our national road system than the average individual. Why should they not pay accordingly?

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