“Do you think Obama will get a second term?” my lunch mate asked.
“It depends,” I said.
We agreed there are some critical issues going into the 2012 election season. The price of gas and the job market probably top the list. The national debt might be significant, but I’m inclined to think not. Most of us can’t get a grip on that much money all in one sentence.
There also is the question of assigning blame. We human people like to do that and we are quick to nail any proclaimed savior who doesn’t live up to his promises as we understand them.
Obama said we’d be out of Iraq and Afghanistan and we’re not.
Gas prices are high and probably not going lower.
There are too few jobs for those who want them.
It’s not easy to get out of a war when the industries that profit from it are constantly at your door proclaiming doom from terrorists and other monsters if we don’t put all those current weapons to use and make every effort to develop new and better ways to kill our fellow planetarians.
They bring to mind “protection” enforcers who, history reports, would visit a store owner and offer, for a small fee, to protect his business. Often, he refused, and next morning arrived to unlock a store in which all the windows had been shattered.
Maybe the windows would have been shattered anyway.
Gasoline prices are high for two reasons: we drivers are willing to pay for it, and gas barons and stock traders are willing to take our money. The stuff pollutes our air, and may one day run out, but for now, my Jeep runs on it and I like to go places. I’d like for Obama to get the price back to 25 cents a gallon, as it was when I bought my first car, but that’s not the way capitalism works.
Fuel sellers may drop the price of gasoline if someone comes up with a less expensive fuel to compete. More likely, the gas barons will come up with the new fuel, and raise the price of both accordingly. That is capitalism.
And jobs. There’s a quandary. Most of our current out of work people over the age of 20-something have been focused on a manufacturing economy. The trouble with that is we want to earn high wages, but we don’t want to pay high prices. And capitalists want to earn high profits.
So the jobs that remain have been shipped to lands where workers make $1 a week and are darned proud of it.
Not many years ago I covered a gubernatorial campaign in which one of the candidates proclaimed her intention to bring back to the Great State of Maine the industries that had left. I asked whether she meant those such as Bates Woolen Mills and Bass shoes.
Yes, she said, as though she meant it.
She probably did, but at that time, the woolen mills that had powered Lewiston and Auburn were long gone, and the famous hand-made shoes were going. Manufacturers in both industries had discovered they could ship the raw materials to the Orient, and import the finished product with a higher profit than had the products been made right here in the good old U.S. of A. by genuine American labor.
When World War II sent our young men off to battle Hitler and Hirohito, women took their places in factories making tanks and bombers. At war’s end, the men took their assembly line jobs back and women went back to their kitchens. Until recently, women have been fighting to get some of those jobs back, along with the same wages men receive for them.
We are entering a new economy, one without job definitions that include, in fine print or invisible ink, “men’s work.” Women, it turns out, are doing better than men in becoming employed in the new so-called “knowledge economy.” What remains to be seen is how long our parents will keep crying about jobs lost, and how soon students will be educated for jobs created. So far, we have not been very receptive to the new industries, which remain in development.
And while Democrats blame Republicans for the mess we’re in, Republicans blame Barack Obama.
If the GOP can keep us voters focused on the fellow who said back in 2008 he’d save us from ourselves … all they have to do is keep any significant reform from occurring for another 15 months.
If we vote as we did in November 2010, that should not be difficult.
Photo by Bob Jagendorf
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