Sunday, April 12, 2009

St. Louis County's Action Plan for Sustainable Economic Recovery

I just read a significant part of the report - Action Plan For Sustainable Economic Recovery It's for St. Louis County, "The Economic Engine of the State of Missouri and the St. Louis Region" by Charlie A. Dooley, St. Louis County Executive, dated December 19, 2008. Subtitle: “The Change We Need To Strengthen Our County, Our Region, Our State, Our Nation" I believe that is true, but the evidence for sustainability is not clear. Check out pages 48-51 describing two of the projects planned. Nothing describes the parts to be purchased for the projects and where they are manufactured. What are the chances that the overwhelming majority are manufactured neither within the county, the state, the region, or the nation? Quite high I suspect.

I went back and did a search on "manufacture." There are only two relevant hits, see pages 96 and 119, Their approach involves aiding the US automobile industry including their suppliers through the purchase by St. Louise County of American made hybrid cars. A desired outcome: "Maintain good paying jobs for the auto manufacturers and their suppliers." This makes perfect sense. It should be a major focus of this plan. Unfortunately it is not. But it wouldn't take too much additional work to make it so!

The plan does focus on reducing energy usage, and increasing research and development jobs. Both are very positive and needed. However, they are not sufficient.

The big gap in this plan is there is no planned approach to bringing manufacturing jobs back to the county, region, state and nation. Without that, the linchpin and major generator of wealth for any major modern society. including revenues to all the above organizations, is missing. A linchpin, or lynchpin, is a fastener used to prevent a wheel or other rotating part from sliding off the axle upon which it is riding. We have slid right off our economic axles, and we need to get back on board. It's really a sine qua non for sustainable economic growth for St Louis County, St Louis, Missouri, and the Good Old USA.

To get a gut feel for what has happened to us, and how important it is to change it, just spend a half hour in your local hardware store and count all the Made in USA labels you find as you go slowly down any aisle. See my earlier post on that very topic. It's really scary.

Remember, the exporting of the enormous number of jobs did not happen by accident, It was pushed upon us by a particular group of economists, who became well paid advisors to industry. Larry Summers, just as one example, made a few million dollars, last year alone, from the financial firms he is tasked with "controlling" (and aiding} using trillions of dollars of your money and mine. The corporation they advised and aided when in government service were major beneficiaries of the removal of control and regulation in economic activity that removed any and all tariffs on imported goods. Our government also stopped taxing the companies that moved their production offshore. A real double whammy, if you are old enough to know what "double whammy" means. These firms and the Chicago group of economic advisors, still lobby the government which has gone along with them since the days of President Reagan. President Clinton was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University Oxford is a major proponent of the Chicago plan for redistributing our "wealth" to the rich. We can go into the spin engines required to make all this seem palatable as our middle class American Dream jobs were actively pushed out of our borders. But, let's leave that aside for now. Assume for the moment, that it is what happened. Yes Virginia, it really is.

If that is really the case, what could St Louis County do to bring back manufacturing jobs in general? And what about all the other formerly "low margin" manufacturing cities, counties, regions, states in a formerly "low margin" manufacturing nation, that had many tens of millions of "low margin"manufacturing jobs that was the major engine of prosperity for us all? Of course, that was before they all became glorious "High Margin Post Industrial" Cities and Counties, "High Margin Post Industrial" Regions, and "High Margin Post Industrial" States in a glorious "High Margin Post Industrial" Nation? What can any of them, or any of us actually do to bring back those dismally middle class "low margin" manufacturing jobs? That is the subject of my next blog, I hope. We will go into what suddenly made them "low margin" and beneath contempt in the eyes of the Chicago school of economists. Also we will address why they didn't appear to be low margin until the Chicago economic and social redistribution of wealth geniuses opened our eyes.

Your ideas are welcome. You may agree or disagree, politely of course.

I just remembered, there are at least two other analysts who agree with these thoughts. I will research that and get back to you. Have a great evening and week.

Chic Bressel

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