You Say You Want a Revolution?

 

Maybe you are right. I read about in magazines and newspapers, and hear on the news about the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor in America. (Better make that The United States of America. I understand that some others on the North and South American continents do not like us preempting the term that they say applies to all of them as well.) Every survey and study shows that the very few super rich and the more numerous plain rich keep collecting a bigger piece of the pie and the rest of us are left with thin gruel.

 

There is no middle class anymore, not since the high paid manufacturing jobs mostly went out of the country. Those jobs in steel mills, auto assembly plants, and textile mills gave jobs that paid a decent wage to people with little or no higher education, but with brawn and common sense. Mostly those high wages were underpinned by union activity. No business ever has parted with money for salary and benefits unless held to the fire. Now unions have no power, and business is the catbird in the swallows nest.

 

So the pundits lament and wring their hands about the gap between rich and poor, and draw parallels to various times and places in history where the downtrodden population has risen and taken over, often separating the rich from their heads as well as their wallets.

 

I’m all in on the Revolution intellectually, with apologies to the NSA (please Mr. NSA man, don’t track me because of this), but I want to know more before I join. Primarily, what do you plan to replace the present system with?

 

Let’s say, OK, now you are in charge, the rich having been overthrown. You now control the banks and government and you are the Man. What next? What will bring back those plentiful, unskilled, high-paying jobs? Just wanting it isn’t enough. If it’s cheaper to manufacture a roll of toilet paper in China because of low labor cost, you will have to lower the wages here to compete. Then you just have US citizens working for the same low wages that the Chinese are. If you mandate that anything used in this country be manufactured here, and you pay the nice fat paychecks that made the middle class, your product will cost so much that nobody can afford it. I, for one, would hate to see toilet paper disappear.

 

One of the issues for jobs is skill. Programming a computer or locating a specific cancer-fighting gene are not trades you can learn as an apprentice, the way bricklayers and wainwrights used to. Most of the high paying jobs today require some specific education (except an MBA, which I consider to be the most worthless piece of trash degree. They are useless to society, only useful to the individual that wants to be a CEO and pull in the big bucks). So, you may have to educate your unemployed after the revolution before they can go to work.

 

How about government work programs? They worked in FDR’s time, the WPA and CCC putting everyone without a job to work for the government, doing important work like building highways and bridges. Where would you get the money to pay all those workers? Taxes are the answer; the way government finances everything it does. But if nobody has any money, they are damn sure not going to want to pay a bunch of it to the government. And how much do you plan to pay for this shovel work? Let’s say there are 50 million adult citizens either unemployed or underemployed. That’s conservative, I think. Or you can use your own figure, whatever makes you happy. Just do not make it unrealistically low. Remember the population is around 314 million.

 

So, 50 million people at $20 an hour, $41,600 a year before taxes, your government payroll will be about two trillion dollars. That’s big taxes.

 

Maybe you can just confiscate all the wealth from those rich people that are now headless. If you took all the money from all of them, you might get 500 billion dollars, enough to run the country for maybe six months. Then what will you do? I am not asking these questions rhetorically, I want to know before I join the Revolution. You stand a good chance of making things worse by revolting.

 

I do not like the direction we are headed any better than anyone else (except those rich people) but I want to know what your Plan is for after.

 

The massive societal changes in this country over the past two hundred years, by changing from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy, then to a technological economy, and now to a service economy, dismantled the implied contract between work done and compensation paid. Now the ones that get paid the most work the least, and the ones without special skills, like medical technology or computer knowledge, are left unemployable.

 

So tell me where the jobs are coming from and where the money to pay those workers is coming from and I will get on board. Otherwise, we might be better off slogging along as we are until some new technology impacts society. Maybe it will be cheap fusion power, or regular interstellar space flight or a dinosaur-killing asteroid apocalypse without zombies.

 

I don’t know the answer. Do you?

 

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