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By C. Fernando Lumba
In The Odyssey, Ulysses was warned against hearing the song of the Sirens as his ship passed the island of the Sirens in the Aegean Sea. He instructed his men to tie him up so that he could not free himself and swim towards the island. If he somehow broke loose, he would get to the island and meet certain death.
His men all wore earplugs to make sure that they did not hear the Sirens’ song.
Ulysses and his men have taught us modern Americans a lesson. If we already know that hearing a song will eventually kill us, we should either wear earplugs or we must ask others to tie us tightly to a post, without any possibility of breaking loose.
The Sirens of Globalization are singing “cheap goods, cheap goods, cheap goods” and we as a country are going crazy. We have been, over the last few decades, abandoning our own manufacturing industries and surrendering those industries to China and a few developing countries that are selling products to us cheaper and cheaper.
Cheap goods will eventually kill the American economy. Millions of our fellow Americans, including our children and their children, cannot find jobs because the strongest engine of job creation – manufacturing – is severely damaged and almost certain to be in its death throes by mid-century.
Luckily, we American consumers still have our wits about us. And we are the only ones who can save our economy. Our political leaders, the CEOs of the major corporations, the professors of economics, business and marketing in our colleges have all heard the Sirens’ song. Some have swum to the Sirens’ island and have been imprisoned, ready to be devoured. Others are swimming toward the island. All of them are bound to be eaten up by the Sirens, with only their skeletons as future grim reminders that they once existed.
Nearly all of our leaders and academicians are doing China’s work. They either have a direct hand in or allowing the dismantling of American manufacturing piece by piece. They are listening to the Sirens’ song and are losing their minds.
Here is the Sirens’ song, sung to the tune of the Hawaiian Wedding Song by Elvis Presley:
This is the moment, we’ve waited for/ You can hear us Sirens calling/
Soon you’ll be in the ocean swimming/.
This is the moment of year of the snake greetings/
We will make everything for you forever/
Promise me you’ll just relax forever/
Here and now, dear/ All our factories will make you rich, dear/
Promise me you will not make things in your country/
We will make everything cheaper here for-e-ever/
Now we make your clothes, your shoes, your jewelry/
Polluted skies of Beijing smile/
On this our wedding day/
We do love the taste/ of your muscles, your brains and your heart.
We will not only reject the Sirens’ song in case we hear it despite our ear plugs. We will insist that 51% of all manufactured products we buy are Made in the U.S.A. If those products are more expensive, it would be OK, because we will have good jobs and can afford to pay higher prices.
A lot of people are terrified of higher prices. It is an unfounded fear. What we should be afraid of is lower prices. Lower prices discourage our manufacturers because they cannot make money when prices are too low. So they go out of business, or they close their factories in America and open factories in China and other countries where everything is cheap.
But, if prices are higher, that is, there’s some inflation, our manufacturers will be able to stay profitable and will feel less need to close their operations in the U.S. and open factories in China.
High prices can in fact be good for the general economy. Higher prices will drive up the values of our homes and other properties. Our savings rates will be higher, encouraging more savings. With greater savings, there will be more money for banks to lend to investors, leading to greater innovation.
If inflation is ever needed, it is needed now, so our economy can get off the ground and start humming once again.
Some say our economy is doing just great. True, the major corporations are earning record profits, but that’s because these companies are making their products in China at Chinese prices and selling those products in the U.S. at U.S. prices.
Besides, only the major corporations are making money – lots of it. We have a situation where the major corporations are making out like bandits, while the rest of America – the bottom 98% – are treading water, striving to stay afloat.
When you go to Wal-mart, or Target, or Sears and find that the products you are buying are getting cheaper, you should not rejoice. You must recoil from those products, because those cheap products are the ones responsible for killing millions of American jobs. Some of those jobs are your own, your children’s, your grandchildren’s, or the children of just about every American you know.
If we plug our ears, or if we tie ourselves to a mast or a post so that we are prevented from hearing the Sirens’ song and swimming towards the island of the Sirens, we will survive. And when our ship is at last past that island, we will be home free.
Then we can land our ship and start manufacturing in America again. If our products are more expensive than the products coming from China and other underdeveloped countries, so be it. For what that means is that we are making things again in America, and our children and many American children have good-paying jobs.
It could also mean higher tariffs on Chinese goods, which will encourage American manufacturers to make things in America again.
The pencil-necked economists will tell you, “Oh, but economic activity will be curtailed, because higher prices will mean people will be able to buy less goods.” That is true only if our incomes remain at current levels. But, if our incomes increase because we have better paying jobs, and not McDonalds type jobs, we will be able to afford the higher prices.
Remember, during the 50s, 60s and 70s, when most of the things we bought in America were made in the U.S., prices were a lot higher, but we were a happier and more confident people because we all had good-paying jobs.
When we come out of this funk we are currently in, we will be singing not the Song of the Sirens, but the Frank Sinatra song, The House I Live In. Let me remind you of the last stanza in that song:
The house I live in,
The goodness everywhere,
A land of wealth and beauty,
With enough for all to share;
A house that we call Freedom,
A home of Liberty,
And it belongs to fighting people
That’s America to me.
(Comments are welcome at the Comments section. Readers may also contact the writer by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)