The Morning After

I have been surfing the blogs written by the members of the conservative community.  They are angry in anticipation of John McCain’s loss in the Presidential election.  Several posts discuss the need to accumulate food, clean water and “ammo” in the event that the election of an African-American results in a complete breakdown of civil society.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chris Rock has made great fun of the prospect that ‘anything that requires a Black person to do something’ on the day after the election (assuming Barack Obama wins) will not happen.  His standup routine:  “Don’t Kill the Messenger” evokes the image of black people not going to work, being irresponsible, acting crazy…the typical stereotype. Wow.

So, we have armed rural whites cowering in their bunkers waiting for the crazy, drunk, irresponsible blacks to come and…what? Take over their homes and businesses? Commit horrible crimes and ruin their way of life? The pundits and the talkers on both sides will paint a picture of the Apocalypse and plant the face of the enemy squarely on the front. Fear mongering is at a fever pitch.

The truth is, our way of life is about to change because the U.S. GNP/capita, or national income per person, is in decline. The rate of growth of the U.S. economy is slowing. The recently released IMF Report stated that the U.S. economy, which grew by 2 percent last year, is projected to slow to 1.6 percent this year. The IMF projects that growth will screech to a virtual halt in 2009. That would mark the worst showing since 1991, when the country was pulling out of a recession. By contrast, China and India will see growth at 9.7 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively. Russia’s economy should grow by 7 percent this year, down from 8.1 percent last year. 1

Gross National Product is the total value added from domestic and foreign sources claimed by residents of a country. In other words it is GDP (Gross Domestic Product, the value of goods and services produced within a country) plus net income received by residents from non-resident sources. GNP/capita is the total divided by the number of people in the country. As the country has shifted from the industrial to the information age, blue collar manufacturing jobs have been exported to developing nations and white collar office jobs as clerks in stores, office workers, teachers, and nurses, are limited to people with the skills and education to fill them. The U.S. has shifted to a service economy.

Conservatives have decried the advent of ‘socialism’ in America without admitting that “free market” excesses resulted in price gouging among the nation’s oil and other energy companies. While Rush Limbaugh blames blacks for the subprime mortgage crisis, oil company executives are laughing all the way to the bank. Does anyone see a connection between the shocking increases in gasoline, food and electricity prices and homeowners’ inability to keep up with mortgage payments? Hello!!!!!

Americans’ ideological belief in freedom has historically resulted in blind acceptance that companies should be free to raise prices on goods and services, and that competitive forces in the market will restrain them from price gouging. In a ‘mature’ economy, however, it’s not clear that competition between companies has had that result. What is clear is that many Americans are suffering and more will suffer in the future. Eight years of Enrons, Worldcoms, derivatives futures trading, and other loose financial dealings have brought us to this time in history. Now, while Ken Lay relaxes in Dubai at the newly constructed Halliburton Headquarters, the right wants us to wallow in hate and fight over a shrinking pool of resources. I say: we won’t fall for it because we’re better than that.

The government’s bailout package is aimed at thawing lending by buying bad mortgage-related debt from troubled financial institutions. The idea is that the banks’ books would then be cleaner, putting them in a better position to lend and get the economy moving. With this package in place, the next President, whoever he is, will guide America to economic stability. Our job, on the day after the election, is to recognize each others’ humanity and respect the process we are all required to adhere to whether we like the outcome or not.


1. Jeannine Aversa ASSOCIATED PRESS