Sunday, March 23, 2008

This week took a toll on me with long days and a lot of writing... therefore little blog activity. I know, I can hear my friends playing the world's smallest violin. I know here I can find "sympathy" in the dictionary...

Anyway, I try not to write too much about national events as what draws people to the newspapers I edit is the local news. I'm sick and tired, though, of what is happening nationally and the media's constant coverage of trivia instead of substance. At this point we're in the third quarter of the presidential election news cycle with all of the truly interesting stories (other candidates, other ideas) having been under-covered, ignored and just plain squeezed out.

Not even did the five-year anniversary of of the Iraq War get the coverage it deserved in the national press. I just laugh at this idea of the press being leftist.

I used to apologize for my beliefs in order to be acceptable to people who think otherwise. Whether it's the grind at work or the sickening slide of this great country to third world status (a debtor nation that imports most of its manufactured goods with foreign investors taking over more and more of he financial infrastructure), I just can't be polite any longer.

This is what I spewed about in my column this week:

It may be great fodder for the radio talk shows and the parade of pundits on television, but I really don't care if Senator Clinton is playing some sort of mind game with Senator Obama about the possibility of picking him to be her running mate, even though he is in the lead. This is not a real issue.

The two Democratic candidates have spoken very little in the past few weeks about the things that really matter to Americans. Instead, we've had Clinton attacking Obama and Obama continuing his hope and change rhetoric. It's just a lot of noise.

It's driven me to consider voting for Ralph Nader.

I keep waiting for one of them to talk about the war in Iraq, the home mortgage crisis, the energy crisis or the decline in the dollar's value. Or how about saying what they would do to re-build New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and how they would keep jobs here in this country.

For me, the issue of jobs is the key to the nation's success. To re-build the middle class, we need good jobs. To have a pathway from poverty, we need jobs.

While doing the research for my book on Springfield, it became more and more apparent to me the city's slow slide to its present state came from the erosion of its manufacturing sector. As early as 1954, when the Indian Motorcycle Company stopped production, the city has lost jobs.

Consider these blows: the closing of the Armory in 1968 followed by the closing of Westinghouse in 1970 and American Bosch in 1986.

With each of these closings the firm middle class in the city became weaker and weaker. How would these well-paying jobs be replaced? With positions at Wal-Mart? McDonald's?

Consider a city like Chicopee when it lost the Uniroyal tire plant. There was not only the loss of jobs from the factory itself, but also the ancillary income that went to retail shops and restaurants.

Without the ability to make a decent wage, how can our standard of living be maintained? How can we fight hunger, infant mortality and the other ravages of poverty?

Mike Dukakis once had a vision when he was governor that Massachusetts would replace its manufacturing jobs with high-tech jobs and the Commonwealth would have an economy split between high tech and service jobs. This was back in the heyday of Digital, Wang and other computer companies. It never happened, did it?

I guess it was a good thing he didn't become president.

We need a diversified job base. We need to reverse our trade deficit by making what we need here, not in China. We need local agriculture. We need local energy development.

Why aren't the candidates talking about these issues? Because it's easier and safer to spout off about stuff that doesn't matter, but makes a great headline in a news cycle.
Hey, I got my Social Security statement the other day. Did you get yours?

You know what I mean? That cheery little newsletter that lets you know how much money you're going to get when you retire?

Does it depress you? It did me. Now my wife and I have other retirement accounts, but I have to say that in order to get my maximum benefit, I'll have to work to 70.

I guess 70 is going to be the new 65.

And based on what I'm getting I better get used to the taste of cat food on Ritz! I'll just tell my friends it's pate ! Although Lucky the Wonder Bichon's food looks and smells better than the cat food.
© 2008 Gordon Michael Dobbs


dogboy443 said...

I've got to be 73 before I get my full benefits. Just in time for our house to be paid off. Joy, pass the Alpo and a Depends.

Mark Martin said...

I just repeat what I hear about jobs, after not paying close attention, so consider the source, but here goes-

The jobs market Chicopee and Springfield is suffering because of high taxes. So you have a govt that is fulfilling the populist dream of gouging the business owners, while business owners are deciding to locate in Alabama where the taxes are low.

Something like that. Face it, Mikey - YOU CAN'T WIN!!!

No, wait - CASINOS! I forgot. Deval is going to bring lots of money and jobs to Massachusetts soon!

5sbauthor said...

I came across your post as the result of a Google Blogs Alert. If you think the economy is bad in your area, come see how things are in Southeast Michigan! We're currently leading the nation with an unemployment rate of around 7.5%!

I'd like to share with you an entirely new perspective on the root cause of our trade deficit. I have recently published a book titled "Five Short Blasts: A New Economic Theory Exposes The Fatal Flaw in Globalization and Its Consequences for America." To make a long story short, the theory is that, as population density increases beyond some optimum level, per capita consumption begins to decline. This happens because as people are forced to crowd together and conserve space, it becomes ever more impractical to own many products. Falling per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty.

This theory has huge ramifications for U.S. policy toward population (especially immigration policy) and trade. The implications for population policy are obvious, but why trade? It's because these effects of an excessive population density - unemployment and poverty - are actually imported when we attempt to trade freely in manufactured goods with nations that are much more densely populated than our own. Our economies combine. The work of manufacturing is spread evenly across the combined labor force. But, while the more densely populated nation gets free access to our healthy market, all we get in return is access to a market that is emaciated by over-crowding and low per capita consumption. The result is an automatic, irreversible trade deficit and loss of jobs.

We need to look no further than the U.S. trade data for proof of this relationship. Doing an in-depth analysis of our 2006 data, I found that, of the top twenty per capita trade deficits in manufactured goods (the deficit divided by the population of the country in question), eighteen were with nations much more densely populated than our own. Even more revealing, if the nations of the world are divided evenly around the median population density, we have a trade surplus in manufactured goods of $17 billion with the half of nations that are below the median population density. With the half above the median, we have a $480 billion deficit!

If you're interested in learning more about this new perspective on this critical issue, please visit my web site at where you can read the preface for free, join in my blog discussion and, of course, purchase the book if you like. (It's also available at Please forgive the spammish nature of this reply. I don't know how else to inject this new thinking into the debate about our trade deficit without drawing attention to the book.

Keep up the good work of raising concern about this issue. Don't be deterred by those who would label you as a "protectionist." (I'm not sure how the word "protection" ever acquired a negative connotation in the first place.)

Pete Murphy
Author, Five Short Blasts

Mike Dobbs said...

Mark... high taxes have indeed hurt Massachusetts businesses and I'm certainly in favor of taking steps to lower those expenses, something the Legislature has dragged its feet on.

Obviously the people who you listen to haven't brought up the whole union/non-union issue which has also affected where businesses relocate for the past 50 years.

I'm on record before 120,000 readers as saying that while casinos are no magic wand, a real debate should be allowed on the subject. Although state reps tell me the defeat of the casino bill was the governor's fault for having poor legislation, the issue now is how is the Legislature going to address the budget deficit.

If I thought that what I do as a journalist couldn't somehow in some small way change conditions for the better, then I would just give it up.

My biggest gratification from what I do is to have regular folks come up to me and tell me to continue what I'm doing and that they like our papers. Unlike the Republican and the TV stations my staff and I actually try – and succeed – to do more than just dwell on the negative and sensational.