Recession and Recovery

I am so sick of conservatives lying to my face and trying to gaslight me about some of the most difficult years of my life. They act like they can declare something to be true, when all the evidence says they are completely wrong, and then call me closed-minded for not believing their lies about things I’ve observed myself.

I was shaped and scarred by the recession; I know why it happened and what has happened since. When I turned 18 in 2009 there were no jobs for me. I applied for hundreds, and I never got an interview. I didn’t get a full time job until the economy picked up in 2011 thanks to the actions of the Obama administration.

Having worked at the same small-ish manufacturing company since then, I’ve watched the economy recover and business grow. We’ve added tens of thousands of square feet, including a new 20,000 square foot building in our main location. In my home state of Washington, with the highest minimum wage in the nation and other progressive policies, job growth for small businesses has, in some recent years, been better than in any other state. Wages have been growing here as well in the past year or two.

Still, as I predicted would happen, many conservatives insist that everything is awful and Obama made it worse, which is as wrong as wrong can possibly be. Crime is down. Unemployment is down. Poverty is down. Liberal states are feeding the nation with their economic success. Almost everything has improved, aside from wealth inequality and the abusive attitudes of these extremists for whom truth is whatever they feel like believing at the moment. If they want us to stop ridiculing them, they should stop being ridiculous.

Of course, it’s true that a lot of the middle class is still struggling, for many reasons, and a lot of them bought the story Trump sold because their personal situation hasn’t improved much. But their sincerity and personal experiences don’t change how wrong they are about the big picture. Those whose “solutions” are based on falsehoods are either delusional or dishonest. Perhaps, in this case, it’s kinder to assume that they truly believe these falsehoods and need to be reintroduced to the real world.

What we have seen in the past decade is that more “socialist” policies make a better environment for businesses to thrive, because workers have more money to spend and predatory business practices are less successful. A capitalist society and all of its institutions are structured around a fundamental economic division that perpetuates inequality. There are people who can never earn the true value of the goods and services they produce and must rely on being employed by others; they are the workers. Then there are people who are able to obtain more wealth than they produce, which they do by renting the life of a worker for an agreed-upon period of time. It’s simply an updated form of feudalism, now with more freedom!

It is beneficial to our economy to make sure everyone, to the best of our ability, has the basic necessities of life. That includes health care and education, which have a huge impact on the health of a society and therefore on poverty and crime. You want to end recessions and create the biggest economic boom you’ve ever seen, all you have to do is take half of the obscenely enormous wealth that the richest 1% of Americans have, and half of their incomes, and distribute it to everyone else.

That’s all it would take to really get this third industrial revolution off the ground. The prices of solar power and batteries are dropping rapidly, enormous battery storage facilities are being set up to replace gas burning power plants, a significant portion of our electricity is produced by wind, and electric cars with a couple hundred miles of range are now attainable for the middle class. Countries like Germany and China are investing in “energy internets”, power grids where many buildings have their own solar panels and the shared electricity is used…well, like the internet. Free or cheap fast charging stations are spreading.

Give the poor and middle class more money so they can afford fancy things like electric cars and solar panels, invest in solar and electric cars, and watch the economy grow. It will be the last big rush of jobs before most are replaced by robots for good. The smart billionaires are doing this, and if we don’t destroy ourselves, they will be leading the nation in the future. Sadly the idiot billionaires are in charge, so it looks like we’ll have another major crash first.

Also, these things are coming in the end unless we permanently cripple or destroy ourselves. That’s just how human progress goes. It’s bad for a while, and then there’s lots of killing, and everyone who survives learns from the mistake and makes things better, and the people who saw the problems coming end up making lots of money and being in charge.

The trick these days is navigating that tension without causing nuclear winter and making the entire planet uninhabitable.

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