The Next Collapse…Could Be Our Own

Miraculously days after a deadly building collapse, Reshma a woman was found by workers clearing debris in the building’s prayer room. As of today, over one thousand people making 38 euros a month producing goods to be sent and sold to Americans are dead.

On May 1, workers around the world (except the United States), observed the annual International Workers Day (IWD) holding rallies calling for fairer labor standards and worker rights. In Bangladesh crowds of people paraded in the streets, calling for the collapsed building’s owner death. Pope Francis commenting on IWD and the Bangladesh catastrophe said “Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are looking at balance sheets only looking to make a profit….goes against God.”

His comments made me reflect on Communism’s demise in the Soviet Union. Karl Marx Communism’s architect didn’t believe in God. He believed the state should own and equally distribute wealth closing the door to human competition which leaves no incentive to advance culture, community or the state. It allows one entity to control the masses.

The opposite can be said of Capitalism, where private corporations and individuals control the wealth. Here there is an idea of shared responsibility and the public trust that shared prosperity keeps the economy vibrant and growing. Communism rested itself on Marx atheist belief while Capitalism entrusts capital gain to “In God We Trust.”

But when responsibility and prosperity are not shared, the economy is threatened. When the wealthy hoard wealth and don’t distribute it by creating jobs and investing in human capital, limitations are placed on creating new technologies and superior products. And it finds ways to produce goods at cheaper prices creating unsafe work environments like those in Bangladesh.

It finds itself comfortable producing inferior products, selling them for more money and collecting unyielding profits. That leads to government intervention like five years ago during the 2008 financial collapse. The Great Recession brought on by irresponsible spending and business practices in the banking, housing, automotive and stock market led to the collapse. Government was forced to spend taxpayer dollars to save the American and global economy.

Now the housing market is rebounding and we are heading toward another housing bubble. As the wealthy rebound quicker than the average worker, they are purchasing foreclosed properties for the purpose of reselling to workers for a profit who lost their property during the financial collapse.

As Americans recently out of the financial collapse we should be concerned for worker too often burdened and unprotected not by labor laws but by policies and politics that make the very goods and services they produce priced expensively, farther out of reach. The cost for clothing, cars, health care and a college education are luxuries taken for granted by those who have the means to afford them.

Laborers, teachers and manufacturers shouldn’t need a labor union to protect them. When this nation falls into another economic Recession, sooner rather than later, it may be pulled in so deep it finds itself looking up, not down. Corporate profits in the tens and hundreds of millions is unfair, when it comes at the expense of workers looking for work and those in other countries dying and making just 38 euros a month. If we aren’t careful, one day it could be our economy that collapses not a building in Bangladesh.

Resolute

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At yesterday’s White House news conference, correspondents were chomping at the bit to ask the President questions about Boston, health care reform, Syria and gun legislation.  

Standing at the podium for 30 minutes, he gave long tentative answers before looking at his watch and telling reporters, “One more question.”  It was good he concluded before giving his political enemies even more opportunity to exploit the perception that he is weak and fails to lead.  

But, as he left the podium, there was one final question that allowed the President to give the type of heartfelt response we have come to appreciate.  It was about Jason Collins, the first active professional male athlete from one of the four major sports to openly admit to being gay. It is moments like this that make it difficult for some to criticize him, even when he is unable to get overwhelming, publicly supported gun legislation passed.

Being President of the United States might be the most difficult job in the world, but it is more difficult when leaders fail to effectively communicate their vision for public policy. President Franklin Roosevelt, our nation’s longest serving president, used the radio and his famous fireside chats to calm the nation’s fears and explain his policies for social change. President Ronald Reagan during his presidency not only used the Oval Office, he began traditional presidential weekly radio addresses that are still delivered today.

Today, political pundits, bloggers and others in the media twist messages to cater to their audience. And, while the President in 2008 limited lobbyist access to the White House, he has failed to use his most powerful lobbyist, the American people, to get legislation and a budget through Congress.

It’s amazing because without enlisting the American people, we have seen ObamaCare get passed.  He has led the nation out of the Great Recession, and made the decision to go in and capture Osama bin Laden.  But he has been weakened by Congress’ bickering and an incessant need to find middle ground. Thus, we don’t have a budget and have a budget sequester with no resolution in sight.  If politics and perception are about appearance, this doesn’t look good.

Even when we disagree, we respect and honor our Presidents in life and death.  We watch them age before our eyes as they make the difficult decisions only they can. This is why we look at our Presidents differently when they speak from the Oval Office.  Sitting behind the Resolute Desk, their words carry more weight, and we trust them more.   

This is why over the next year President Obama should speak from the Oval Office to get the support he needs to advance legislation that will end the debates on immigration reform and gun control, and offer the nation direction on energy independence, education and job growth. The President can reach millions of Americans in primetime instead of speaking from the Press Room when Americans are at work or heading home to pick up their children.  More importantly, he can rally Americans to push Congress to move our nation forward. His addresses from the Oval Office directly to the American people will not be diluted by the press. It provides the opportunity for a man recognized for being calm, cool, and steady to provide assurances that the nation is moving in the right direction and that together we can get there faster.  Mr. President, we are waiting.….