Everybody talks about competition in the marketplace being good and yet what we have seen over the last several years is consolidation in the marketplace, which limits competition. We see that locally, nationally, and internationally. We see that both in relation to the government and the private sector to the point where the private sector has become the quasi-private sector.
When we look at the current jobs picture, we see the inability to find traction towards growth because there are fundamental flaws in the current economic model. The marketplace is essentially run through speculation that obsesses over short term profit models at the expense of long term viability. It all becomes how can you sock it to the customer? How do we keep the disposable goods model going/growing at the expense of quality/durability? and How you can cut costs to the bone, even at the expense of service and quality?
Laissez Faire types seem to think this is good, but I don't feel they are grasping the big picture. What happens to service, quality, and innovation when companies are allowed to stamp out competition and/or create barriers to entry within their business sector? What are their incentives to improve service, quality, or foster innovation?
We have fought this battle before in the history of our nation. In the 1890s, we saw the creation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act (1914) that related to how businesses could operate in relation to competition. The problem is that the megacorporations have transcended these laws buy making their companies Transnational in nature. At the moment there really are no governing rules that oversee how these companies will operate. Many of these Corporations have assets worth more than most countries' GDPs. This allows these companies to have free reign to manipulate foreign governments towards their personal interest.
How can this be fixed? I don't think, nor do I want, an International Body administrating the governance of these corporations. I think the better route is for the United States to make these companies abide by our structure of governance and in the interest of this nation. And if they do not, then they can't operate in the United States. And the goods that they sell in the U.S. will be taxed to equability.
On the local level, I am tired of seeing some favored and the rest rendered mute. Many in local leadership seem to think it is their job to protect certain businesses over the overall health of the marketplace. They seem to think that companies are more important than people. Local unemployment is reported at 10.4%, but the true reflection is the reduction in the workforce in Catawba County from 82,245 people in February 2001 to 73,305 in April 2012. That loss of 8,940 people in the workforce equals a shrinkage of 10.87%.
If we look at that reduction in the workforce with a common sense belief that many of these people would prefer to be working, then by extrapolating that half of that reduction in the workforce is a false reduction, then that would figure to a workforce capacity of 77,775 people.
By looking at the current given workforce 73,305 and multiplying it times the given Unemployment rate of 10.4%, we estimate that 7,623 people are unemployed. If we add the additional estimated 4,470 that have fallen off the workforce rolls, then we estimate that the number of truly unemployed stands at 12,093 ( =7623+4470 ). If that is the case, then the real unemployment rate in Catawba County is really right at 16.5%. This does not even factor the number of teens who have been delayed entering the workforce because of the poor economy. 16.5% is the minimum unemployment rate that we see in the area.
You may believe that the assumptions are off, but you can't say that the shrinkage in workforce is attributable to a loss of population. Despite the travails we have seen with the local economy, we saw an increase in population from 2000 (142,515) to 2010 (154,389) of 11,874 people, which is a growth rate of 8.33%. In 2001, 56.6% of the people/population were considered in the workforce (82,245 workforce/145,405 population). Today that number has shrunk to 47.5% (73,305 workforce/154,389 population). The bottom line is that the jobs that we need to move towards recovery obviously aren't there. It has to be our number one priority.
For every anecdote that I am given about how lazy people are, I can show you people that a busting their butts and struggling to make ends meet.
Management will always look at the working class with scornful eyes. I have never understood this. Nor do I understand people playing the class warfare game against middle managers. We've got to meet somewhere in the middle if we have any hopes of turning our economy around.
We talk a good game about wanting more entrepreneurs. Well, the local community is going to have to put some skin in the game if we are to move forward with that effort. That means looking out towards the best interests of the community and not personal self interests. Can we do this? We haven't shown that ability in the past. Must we do this? Yep, if we aren't to see an implosion of population from our area moving to green pastures - to areas that would rather be ahead of the curve than run over by it.