Howard Beale from the Movie Network The year was 1976. As a nation we were deeply divided over leaving Vietnam under less than honorable conditions. We were trying to recover from the first oil shock. The stock market was in a tailspin. Inflation and unemployment were both creeping upward at the same time. According to economists, this was impossible. The difference in rates between existing loans and current savings rates was pushing Savings and Loan institutions towards bankruptcy. Crime rates were at all time highs. We didn’t know it, but things would get worse. In 1976, Network, a dark satirical film brilliantly explored the corrupting influence of television on everything it touched. Howard Beale, respected news anchor receives his two week notice due to declining ratings. Facing the end of his career, he announces he is going to commit suicide on the air. Instead he goes insane, live on the air, delivering the famous I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” rant. Over the last few days both on facebook and in real conversations with live human beings, I am hearing the same confused anger I heard in the 1970s. Things are bad. U-6 unemployment stands at 13.2%. Both our national and individual debts stand at all time highs. Young people burdened with student loans are unable to start their lives. Their parents can’t sell their homes because they owe more than their houses are worth. Tired old people in their 60s can’t retire because they were hit with a retirement bait and switch as defined benefit plans went bust or were closed to new employees. Health care is a terribly expensive mess that is crippling small businesses and individual policy holders. And nobody seems to know what to do. The old answers, from both parties, simply aren’t working anymore. Most of the conversations I hear are the wrong conversation. Our politicians face one overwhelmingly important question, how to create high value added jobs in the private sector for men and women of average intelligence who don’t possess any particularly valuable skills. Since 1973 we have exported on the order of 20,000,000 American jobs to places like China. Whole industries from primary steel to the garment trade have simply disappeared. We have failed to control our borders. Now we are being asked to provide jobs for an additional 12 and 20 million people. Remember the law of supply and demand? The world has an oversupply of labor. If jobs are scarce and potential employees and numerous and desperate, guess what happens to salaries? These problems are only exacerbated by improvements in automation technology and the potential of “cloud computing” to revolutionize back office operations. In the face of all these difficulties, it seems that every law our politicians enact just seems to make things worse. I wish I could convince our elected representatives to think before they voted: If it creates more high quality jobs in the private sector it is important.
If it does not create more high quality jobs in the private sector it is not important.
If it is going to destroy high quality jobs in the private sector, it isn’t going to happen. Not on my watch. To paraphrase the old Ford slogan, “Jobs are Job #1.” Twenty million high quality, wealth producing, tax paying, jobs in the private sector would solve an awful lot of this nation’s problems. We could balance the budget. We could have more money for all kinds of desirable Government funded activities, like medical research. Fewer people would need social programs. More Americans could once again enjoy the kind of life we experienced in better years. Until things get better, I want you to say, 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!' Like the Howard Beale character in the movie, I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! Get up! I pray (especially when I am in trouble). I vote. I expect you to do the same. But don’t wait on God or the Government. Take responsibility for your own life. Do it today. As you begin to move forward, you will get stronger. You can make yourself a more valuable human being both in the marketplace and in areas of life that are more important than money.