Contradictions and Disappoinments

Posted on August 27, 2010 by

I heard that new housing starts are down.

That’s supposed to be bad news.

But then I think of those crappy tract homes next to the freeways east of Pomona which put working-class families “underwater” in the subprime scam.

In an era of stagnant wages, workers hoped to score in the real estate market, so they tolerated freeway noise in their new neighborhoods and long commutes to their jobs.  When their home values tanked, many slid away in the middle of the night.

That’s my association to new housing starts.

Same deal with “consumer spending”.  Families piling up credit card debt, buying Chinese imports at big box retailers. 

With the decline of domestic manufacturing (once upon a time a toaster bought in Seattle was made in Bridgeport, Connecticut), I don’t fully understand how shopping at Best Buy will lift our economy out of its funk. 

If Americans spend more money at the mall, stores will bring on sales help and shipping, ground transportation and warehousing will see an upward blip.  But the linchpin of that job growth cycle – heavy industry and manufacturing – has been, as they say “off shored.”

There are other contradictions that I can’t seem to reconcile.

Here’s one:

Democrats are expected to defend “government.”

O.K.  I’ll do that.  I can argue for socialized – rather than privatized – programs and action.  The problem is government’s complicity with corporate malfeasance and its other nasty tendencies which alarm Americans on the left, right and center.

Barbara Ehrenreich tackles this in the Nation.

Then, of course, there’s the November election.

We’ll be out there selling the accomplishments of this white house and congress.  (For perspective, see Matthew Rothschild piece in the Progressive).

Mostly, though, we’ll be trying to scare voters away from the big, bad republicans.

This isn’t what we had in mind two years ago, but why go there now.

Anyway, I’m used to contradictions and disappointments.

Don’t forget, I’ve been in the American Labor Movement for the past 25 years.

Comments (3)


  1. Salvador Sanchez says:

    This housing crisis will take years to recover. Most working class people who work in the private sector have given up on the dream of owning one. Home ownership is essential for civic participation and thus it makes our democracy stronger. People who own homes tend to invest more in their communities since they have a vested interest.

  2. Jon K. says:

    I fear that we’re screwed.

    The failsafe button that has long saved the American economy has been innovation; however, it seems that the creative genius of American society has been eroding with dumbing down of our culture into a barrage of idiotic Twitter tweets.

    Multi-nationals are built around a growing internationalist class that feels little to no patriotism and are thereby unburdened by such sentimentalities as guiding policy to help their fellow citizens.

    And our government is incompetent. Want a sign of that? 10 year since the Trade Centers were crippled in New York. Still nothing’s built. While skyscrapers explode in Kuala Lampur and Dubai. Fricken pathetic.

    And while I support the war in Afghanistan there’s no end in site and it’s terribly expensive.

    Oh, have I mentioned that we have 20-30 million illegal aliens here using expensive public services, paying no taxes, and sending money home to their economies instead of spending/investing it here? Oh, I didn’t mention that nor that anyone has the guts to deal with it?

    I feared we’re screwed.

  3. How has the Labor Party been bought off by business Unionism and led to its demise bearing this sense of ever growing impotency, when we should be recognizing the necessity of advocating the precepts that lead to public discussion and informed thinking, rather than following the fascist’s diatribe?

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