Congress is debating a new round of “stimulus benefits” for people who have been affected by the shutdowns and upheavals associated with the coronavirus epidemic. This follows only three months after the first round, which was hoped to bring America through the epidemic and start a new recovery. Sadly, we find that both the virus and its attendant economic illness are more widespread and enduring than were expected. So now we propose dipping even deeper into the well of debt to provide relief for our citizens and the country’s economy.
But what is the source of this relief and what do we expect it to accomplish? If Congress passes a bill providing help for unemployed, where does the funding come from? In a country with a budget deficit of trillions of dollars, it has to come from entities which have faith in the paper promises of America. This includes foreign countries, not least of which is China. So we find ourselves indebted to others who may not have our best interests at heart.
Then, what do we expect to accomplish with this economic relief? While we want all citizens to have a secure life and future, it is not within the legitimate scope or capability of our national government to provide this. The universal failure of Communist governments to provide this same goal is ample proof of its inherent impossibility. Yet with any conscience, we cannot turn our backs on the needs of workers and families who are struggling to live with reduced or no income.
Now, think of a time when we had low unemployment and worker security with no need for stimulus — the decades of the 1950s up to the 1970s. At that time, we had a positive balance of trade, robust manufacturing and technology development. So what changed from that time to the present? In a word, China. President Nixon made a goal of developing trade with China in the hope that economic prosperity would push them into a free market and democracy. This policy has been followed by every succeeding president, of both parties.
So, what has been the result? We have shut down factories, relying on the Chinese to supply us with our products. On our side, this has resulted in workers without jobs and reduced tax base with constantly increasing deficits. In return, we have received contaminated food products and medicines, electronics with installed spyware and industrial espionage attempting now to steal research on virus vaccines.
Perhaps we should look to an old maxim for guidance: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.” With a few tweaks, this could be very applicable today. So why do we not teach America to fish again? As part of the next stimulus, let us commit money and effort to rebuild our industries. This would provide immediate jobs as we rebuild physical factories as well as long-term benefits of increased tax base, employment stability and reliability of the supply chain. Base the effort on forgiveness of loans centered on jobs created to avoid the label of “socialism.” Surely this would be acceptable to both political parties.
George McKinney is a 1967 graduate of the West Virginia Institute of Technology. He is retired from a career spanning more than 50 years in the natural gas industry as an engineer, consultant and instructor. He resides in Hurricane.