Bottom Line

The media is rife with stories about “the disappearing middle class” and the “exponential rise in income of the elite.” As a card carrying member of the middle class, I can tell you that it does indeed feel as if the rich are only getting richer while the poor get poorer. Bottom line?  I believe we are well on our way to a two layered economic strata in this society – the rich, and varying levels of poor. Unfortunately, I know exactly where I’m going to end up in this scenario, and it’s not in a Penthouse on Park Avenue.

My father in law came of age during the Great Depression, an event that cemented his inherent mistrust of government and financial institutions. As a young man, he lost his life savings in a bank failure, and he never again trusted banks with much of his hard earned cash. He was a Republican and an arch conservative, and when I first started listening to his tirades on various subjects back in the early 1970’s, I thought he was a little crazy.

But although I’ve never far veered from my own southern Democratic roots, I must admit that the past 35 years have seen several of his prophesies come true.  “The media is going to take over public opinion,” he would often say.  Now this was back in the day when all the news available came out of four TV stations and the daily newspaper. There was no Fox news network, no CNN ticker running constantly, no Nancy Grace, or Rush Limbaugh, constantly badgering us with news and expose, yammering in our ears 24/7 about what we ought to believe. With this constant barrage of biased information and opinion, where do we find honest and upright information on which to form our own views?  While we may think we’re thinking independently, how much have our minds been affected subliminally by the information we’re fed by these powerful media formats?

Just as often as my father in law ranted about undue media influence on public opinion, he pontificated about the globalization of commerce. “If people in this country keep buying products made in China, one of these days the Communists will own us!”  Well, perhaps the Communists don’t own us, but China nearly does. Back in 1973 when my father in law stubbornly refused to buy clothes or appliances made in foreign countries, I would never have believed that the US would be in China’s debt to the tune over a trillion dollars. And as we continue to outsource much of our labor and technology to China and other nations while failing to promote new business ventures and technologies here in the States, we continue to let huge chunks of our economy further out of our control.

Part of the problem is, in fact, the bottom line. Unless something is directly measurable in the profit column, it’s value is discounted. Corporations have little regard for the loyalty of their workers, instead seeking ways to make more money without considering the consequences to their personnel or the larger effects on society as whole.

Bottom line? My father in law was a lot smarter than I gave him credit for. I almost wish he were still around to ask what might happen next.

Then again, I probably wouldn’t want to know the answer.

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11 thoughts on “Bottom Line

  1. Thank you for this post. 🙂 I believe that you and I are on the same page with regards to your views. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting even poorer. To keep things in perspective, I do not believe that Americans are poor compared to some third world countries. I understand that there are a lot of folks out there that are struggling. In my household I am the only one bringing in a steady pay check and we need every dime of it to take care of our needs and a few wants. I think that part of the problem is that Americans in general are very materialistic and over extended. In other words, we have lost sight of our needs vs our wants. When my wife lost her job 3 or 4 years ago we lost two new vehicles that we could no longer make payments on. Looking back on it now I realize that we probably should have not purchased the vehicles and just stayed with our older second hand vehicles. Like most folks we like our cable tv, High Speed Internet and eating out from time to time. All of those things are wants, and not needs. I believe that part of the consequences of poor life choices with regards to finances is that we dig ourselves into a collective debt hole. Gosh, could that be why our government is trillions of dollars in debt? We need people who are managing our national budget that can make wise money decisions and quit wasting tax dollars on stupid stuff. Ok, I better shut up now huh? LOL

    • You are quite right, James. We all want to participate in the “American Dream,” and many times that translates into having stuff that we really don’t need. But it’s hard when we see corrupt businessmen and government officials who get to have all that on our hard-earned dollars.

  2. Balance is important here, too. Fox and Limbaugh may be easy targets, but I no longer watched MSNBC, even when I still had a television. The bias there is as obvious as on other outlets.

    And “greedy corporations” who don’t care about their employees, but only about the bottom line? The point of a business is to make money, not to serve as a social service agency. While it’s true that they should be responsible for good working conditions, fair treatment of people and the production of a quality product, when the regulatory environment or tax structures make it more profitable to move to another country, they’ll do so.

    For me, there’s a slightly amusing personal irony in the midst of current circumstances. I suppose I’m part of what they call the “working poor”, but I’ve lived my life by those “old-fasioned values” my parents taught: work hard, be responsible, pay cash when possible, be a good citizen. As a result, while I don’t own a house and I’ll be working until 70 or longer, I have no debt, I’ve never been on a government program and I’ve built a business that will support me until I decide to close it down.

    I’m looking for people to vote for who even remember those values, let alone live by them!

    • Balance is absolutely key. There is media bias in every incarnation, making it difficult to find a voice of reason to trust and help you form your own opinion. And of course business owners want to make money. My father owned a small business for 30 years, but there were times when he cut his own salary to make sure “his men” could keep working. He had the kind of “old fashioned” business ethics you speak of that are in very short supply these days.

  3. I agree, Becca. It’s very difficult to get the facts or even the entire story. Depending on the reporter/station/newspaper, the public receives a combination of facts that support the view of that station/newspaper, facts that are designed to skew our perception. By the time they’re finished, I’m exhausted from the manipulation.

    Each of us can find a station that supports our already established beliefs. We never have to look at an opposing view if we don’t want to. This further polarizes our country and enables us to become even more deeply entrenched in our already established views. Cooperation and compromise seem to have evacuated the political landscape. It’s very depressing. I long for a leader who can inspire us to willing subscribe to some of those “old fashioned” values.

  4. I keep reducing my subscription to media, though ironically a minor player (journalistically). I can’t take hearing people quack at me on TV, radio or paper using only their opinions. We need info, true and clear. Or, none at all, possibly. It’s interesting that our economy has forced many to live as we “should have been” all along.
    I don’t know the answer either; I’m with Carol (above). But I believe the pursuit of truth keeps many on track and mayl inevitably, whether it makes a difference or not, find us a “solid” leader as well. Huge place, though, this country. Gotta be careful what we think is the overarching solution.
    In the meantime, we need to use our time and resources with thought and wisdom. Baby steps, maybe, but steps nontheless.
    And use of Blogworld as a communication stream for civil conversation (as herein) is one of those macro things for which I am grateful.

  5. yes…I fear we have no access to objective information. creepy thought

    I didn’t know US owed so much money to China…I do know Europe is negotiating with them to help us get out of the Eurocrisis and I also know they are the biggest investors in Africa. Hmmm interesting

  6. Isn’t it interesting how much we realized they knew that we never gave them credit for? I’ve been trying to modify my media habits, my shopping habits and all, but yes — things are different and dangerously so, and much of this is of our collective making. Disturbing, isn’t it?

    • One of my cousins is on a quest to buy nothing made in China. She’s posting her American made finds on Facebook! She has a small child, so it’s not easy I’m sure.

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