Over the past weekend a lively discussion opened up at a local retail store regarding jobs, unemployment, taxes, liberals, convervatives, capitalism. Being on the more social, concerned-minded and labeled liberal I was quickly in the minority.
I felt bad for one couple; they were clearly really angry and drove off and dinged a car in the parking lot. I don’t know if they knew it, but they kept on going.
The other gentleman I spoke with, a small-business owner, clearly disagreed with me as I him, but we left, I believe, knowing that there are problems in our economy and solutions will take compromise on both sides.
He challenged me to buy American. I do believe the economic issues are more complex than that being the solution. I like purchasing some products made in the U.S. because I know they are regulated and safe, i.e. medicine. (Where is generic ibuprohen manufactured? I can’t find out.) Dishes I purchase are made in the U.S.; again safe glazes, etc. I do make extra efforts to shop in town and purchase produce that is local or travels at least no further than from California.
He was upset that if unemployment rates go up he will not be able to hire any more people. If the unemployment rates go up so high that he could not hire someone making a family livable wage, say $20 to $25 an hour, then I agree rates going up that much on a small business owner would be too much. Other acquaintances and friends who own small businesses report how tough the state of Washington is for small owners.
The problems we face are complex; no political party has all the answers and neither party is free from contributing to the problems we have. I am concerned that rhetoric will push people to make the issues overly black-and-white and not look at the wider or long-term ramifications a decision could have on the whole community. I would hate to have to make the final decisions on what “safety net” programs will not be funded in our state.
Being on unemployment myself for the last year I am now at the point where I will probrably stop purchasing insurance through COBRA (I felt fortunate that I could). I have not been without medical since I was a young adult. I have some resources (not medical) since my spouse works, but if I was the prime breadwinner I would end up going to the hospital for care if something happened, like letting an infection go into pneumonia, the people paying insurance would absorb the costs I incurred by having higher premiums, so the hospital could get paid, and people who work at the hospital get paid – and the interconnectedness continues. Very complex.
We are global, whether we like it or not. I think we need to make the global economy work for the larger populations of all countries and not just for the benefit of the few corporations that own all of these companies.
When I pay taxes, I see that as purchasing services for the common good. Paying into Social Security is me supporting the older and retired folks on my block, in my family, in your family. When I buy a product at the store I am purchasing for my good and the owner gets a profit from my purchase. Yes, I want my tax dollars spent well and that is where the compromises come in.
I know I do not understand the full ramifications of economic processes, but one thing I do understand, capitalism unregulated is very scary and dangerous because human beings are not perfect nor do we always choose for the common good. Corporations have a great deal of power and I end with this quote from William O. Douglas, former Supreme Court Justice: America is “By the corporation and for the corporation.”