Monday, January 18, 2010

In one of the classes I took while studying for my masters degree we studied a theory that economies mature through stages. We start out hunter/gatherers, progress to an agriculture based economy. Further progress enables us to become industrial. Then the next progression is to a service economy. That bothered me. How can an economy survive without the production of food, and how can it prosper without production. How can an economy survive without a visible means of support?

This weekend I was waiting to check my own groceries when, years later it finally hit me. The theory is correct. We have progress to a service economy. I service my own groceries. I service my own gas for my cars. I no longer have “retirement” through work, I service my own. Health care? I have a High Deductible Health Saving Account; I service my own.

But, I can’t complain. My money is still serviced by the Federal Reserve! My time is serviced by my employer! My constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are serviced the Federal Government.

So, how can someone flipping hamburgers afford a cell phone made half way around the world? How can a car jack that is able to lift a two ton car be so cheap that it is cheaper to buy it than fix it? It is simple. We are a service economy. The U.S services the money.

The U.S. Government borrows money from China, Japan, and others, and loan it to developing economies. Then we tell these economies that they will loan the money to U.S. corporations, and the corporations hire local people to do the work. And if a developing country doesn’t go along with the idea we overthrow their government. The U.S. companies keep wages low. We get cheap merchandise.

We can afford to buy the cheap goods because the Federal Reserve loans money to U.S financial companies, and they loan us the money to buy the cheap good.

We know what happens when the financial companies are in trouble. The Government loans them money.

We are a service economy. The developing countries serve us. The countries with cash serve us. We serve the rich. We are a service economy.

I have two questions.

1. Is our place in this economy moral? The computer I am posting this with and the computer you are reading this on most likely enslaved someone in another country. The clothes we wear most likely enslaved someone. Almost every thing we use has some component created in low wage factories.

2. Our economy is based upon borrowing from other governments and giving this money to corporations. The money ends up in the hands of the super rich. If the money stream stops our economy collapses. Do you think that the super rich will give a damn, or will they leave the tax paying public holding the debt?

We are a service economy, and we are an integral member of it. We oppress the majority of the world, and in the process we agree to be oppressed. It is time to throw off the shackles. It is time to digress into a manufacturing economy. It is time to make the car jack too expensive to throw away, and raise the price of a cell phone. It is time to digress into an agricultural economy. It is time for the food to become more important than the stock price. It is time to take back our economy.


  1. Very thought-provoking. Of course it is immoral to buy cheap goods due to the economic enslavery of workers in other countries. Do you have a suggestion for improving the situation? I order things I want on the internet, and when thay come they may say "made in China, assembled in Haiti." It seems that there is an untracable line of exploitation.

    Good post.

  2. I wish I had a suggestion.

    In our conversations I have mentioned that I wanted to write a post linking the problems of the world (war crimes, global warming, the chipping away at our rights, our money problems, etc.) This isn't that post, but this is the link.

    On a lighter note I almost wrote this post starting out by saying we had it right in the '60s with "turn on, tune in, and drop out", but we were too stoned to do it right.