A Grim Economic Outlook

The economy in America is worsening, and it seems like everything that could have gone wrong is going wrong. I am not an economist nor do I have much experience in the field, but whatever knowledge I do have is obvious and conclusive. I understand that the economy is a vastly complex and intricate system, so I will try to touch on the surface of how I view the economy with my limited knowledge in hand, and the way it is affecting most Americans today. I innately approach the issue with my own bias and a cynical view of government, particularly the Bush administration. However, it is vital to understand that both Democrats and Republicans are the wealthiest men and women in the country, and it is no surprise that the elitist politicians are immune to the turbulent economy. The economy becomes a hot button issue on the campaign trail, and patching up economic problems with temporary bandages happens so often under the intense watch of lobbyists. The government is now run by the rich for the rich. Do not get me wrong though, because I believe in keeping America as capitalistic as possible, because I truly believe that less government is more government. Although I believe this to be true, it is unfair to lie and deceive the American people with monopolies, cartels, price gauging, high gas prices, credit crunch, home foreclosures, Social Security, healthcare, taxes, regulation, unions, outsourcing, and the decline of the US dollar. The harbingers of disaster are here, and the forecast ahead looks grim and dreary.

America is addicted to gasoline, and the addiction makes America especially vulnerable and dependent on dangerous suppliers like the Saudis in the Middle East. The world is growing at a phenomenal pace, and the universe is no longer revolving around the United States of America. Europe, India, and China are the biggest consumers of gasoline and in developing countries the need for gas is growing exponentially with each passing year. Strained relations in the Middle East and raging wars against Islamic nations have cast a dark shadow in our fragile links to oil rich countries. Sanctions against dangerous countries like Iran become impossible due to other strong countries dependent on Iranian oil production, and this begins to create suspicious alliances connecting countries like Russia, China, and Iran. With oil being a finite resource and the demand only growing, war in the coming years over oil rich nations may become a cause for another world war. Gasoline is used as energy in every single aspect of American life and consumerism. As goes the gas price, so goes the price of just about everything else. Today I am paying four dollars and twenty cents a gallon for my car, and four dollars and seventy cents for one loaf of buttermilk bread. If this is not insanity what is it. Fortunately, the head of our government is run by oil company investors like Bush and Cheney and I am sure that the record high profits by oil companies is not hurting them. This is a scary thought indeed. Gas directly hikes up the bottom line of all companies and is then passed down to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Gasoline consumption also ruffles the feathers of green house gases and the effect on the environment in terms of global warming.

I am not sure if global warming is a reality in its entirety, but there is no question that pollution has damaged the environment beyond repair, and greenhouse gases are to blame when fossil fuels are burned. The environmental burden of industry transitions straight into intensive regulation limiting and raising the cost production of companies, and this too trickles down to the consumer. Any company that must produce a large quantity at low prices frets over the proposition of any regulation or union empowerment. When the government pushes regulation, capitalism collides with intervention. In addition to regulation, unions force companies to pay high wages, prepare safer conditions, and cater to profit stripping demands by the workforce. Regulation plus unionization leads to a harsh atmosphere of minimal profit thus propelling the longevity of outsourcing. Outsourcing allows American companies to move their low skill manual labor to developing nations where unions and regulation are nonexistent. Bigger profits become the stimulant for leaving America to more fertile grounds for cheaper production. Are unions and environmental regulations to blame for outsourcing? The simple answer is yes, but there needs to be more incentives for American companies to keep America a producing nation, and not a dependent one. The world becomes a dangerous place when everything we buy reads, “Made in China.” It is fatal to think that the brain will reside in America, and the operation in other countries. Not being a self-sufficient and independent country makes imports the pumping heart of our country’s economy as exports no longer create a superpower presence in the world. The only solution to once again reclaim America’s powerful production lies in the innovative advancement of technology and alternative fuel.

Ethanol is the new alternate fuel bandwagon which many want to get on to make a quick buck on hype, but the crux of the problem lies in its inefficiency and the impossibility to change the infrastructure to make it work. It still does not hold the golden ticket to salvation, because it would take millions of acres to supply the country’s demand, and that would turn the crop from food to fuel. In the face of a world food shortage that could mean higher food prices and more unavailability of food on the global scale. In countries where food becomes a problem and rationing occurs, food can easily become the log of revolution and the flames that ensue the cause for mass chaos. There is little doubt in my mind that the oil special interest groups are poking holes in the alternative fuel debate for their own benefit, and that stains the glass of objectivity and future change quite a bit. This is where the government needs to utilize its grand power to pour money into research and development, because this task may be too risky for private companies to fund.

The collapse of the housing market bubble has also lead to a decline in consumer consumption and confidence. Government seems to regulate where it causes harm, and oversees regulation where it may help. The home and credit markets were a huge oversight on the government’s part as sub prime loans were being handed out to everyone just for a profit although many were not in a position to sustain the home. Then when the equity on their homes dissolved with the collapse of the housing market, so did the bank’s need to reclaim their money in bad investments. Now home foreclosures are skyrocketing and people are losing their homes left and right, so what does the government do to help the people? The answer is simple, they bail out big Wall Street companies like Bear Stearns and let the people scamper into rental and foreclosure. A government for the rich by the rich indeed. People who speculated or bought a house although they could not afford it are to blame, but so is the government for allowing this to blindly happen.

The future for the new generation also looks meek as we will continually pour our money into a sinking social security scam, and not even receive a cent. Retirement is now becoming a distant dream, because for many it will never even exist. Those who procrastinate and prolong keeping a private savings account for retirement will repent as they will find themselves working into their seventies and beyond. The economy is becoming less and less humane and individually supportive as globalization is creating a fast paced epidemic, and liquid cash goes astray in numerous credit lines and frays. Taxes continue to keep chipping away more and more by every year, because the government cannot keep a lid on its enormous spending and eventual waste. I believe that the fair tax should be enacted to keep a level playing field, so corporate and illegal loophole can be curbed with a blanket sales tax excluding necessities like food and clothing. People must pay a higher price for gas, groceries, retirement, taxes, mortgages, and now healthcare can also take all of one’s work away in an instant. For an uninsured person in America, one heart attack or car accident can get so expensive that it can cause one to lose everything.

The most important issue affecting the future health care delivery in the United States of America is the large number of uninsured individuals who put themselves and their families in harms way. The high cost of American healthcare has left many helpless individuals vulnerable to big corporate insurance and pharmaceutical companies who accumulate enormous profits through inflated costs. This uninsured dilemma prevents over forty million American citizens from receiving regular check-ups and preventive treatments, leaving millions at risk of developing many complications that could have been prevented. Families are forced to pay huge mounds of bills at the expense of their family member being uninsured. This problem is increasing with the passing of every year and will surely pose a problem in my future medical practice in the United States of America. Healthcare should be affordable and accessible for all, and those who cannot manage to afford it should be helped by the government and the more fortunate. Until the uninsured obstruction is patched up the United States healthcare system will remain broken and insensitive to the needs and wants of the people who rightfully strive for a healthier life. No one should be denied the right of health and happiness. It should not be a political or economic issue, but a humane one.

On a global level America has even dropped in status with the dollar plummeting in its rate of exchange. The European and Canadian currencies have soared above our own, illustrating just another example of how America is slowly losing its shimmer of supremacy in the world today. The dollar losing its value also has a direct affiliation with higher gasoline prices as well as soaring consumer goods prices. We are indeed in a sticky economic time, and the swells of a bad tide are steadily rising toward the shore, and when some economic analysts use terminology like recession or depression it often angers me. On CNN Special Investigation Unit, an economic analyst made a good point by saying that a recession is when your neighbor loses his or her home, and a depression is when you lose your own home. The terminology may be hazy, but the truth is far more powerful that America is indeed venturing down the wrong path, but I am reassured with the innovative and resourceful American attitude. Every country has its ups and downs, but it is vital to acknowledge them and move forward as quickly as possible with permanent and sustaining solutions.