Start with this piece: In 2022, “Things Aren’t Gonna Get Done” On An Absolutely Massive Scale, by Michael Snyder
Are we about to witness one of the greatest self-inflicted economic wounds in history? Vaccine mandate deadlines are starting to arrive, and large numbers of very qualified people are losing their jobs as a result.
This, while we are already suffering from a massive labor shortage. Businesses all over America are desperate for workers (and anyone driving down any main-street or involved in any business knows this). But the workers should be out there:
The number of Americans that are currently working is still about five million less than the peak that was hit just before the pandemic arrived.
Five million gone, in less than two years. And it isn’t like you could just pull someone off of the street to fly the airplane that no longer has a pilot due to jab status.
In New York, 26,000 municipal workers have said no to the jab, 26 fire companies shut down, trash is piling up in Brooklyn. Supermarkets are planning for continuing product shortages by expanding storage space and curbing discounts.
Then there is this Tucker Carlson opening monologue: An America in Decline: Supply chain disruptions. Some short-hand notes from his comments:
Hospitals are asking patients to check closets for used metal crutches and other equipment to donate or return to the hospital – because they can’t get any.
Shortages of Thanksgiving turkeys, pet food, diapers, frozen food, bottles for wine, single serve packages of ketchup, bread, potato chips, toilet paper, paper for books, computer chips for cars, lumber.
Container ships stuck outside of port, lack of truckers, cost of shipping containers up 330%, trucking costs up 23% - not including fuel. Gas prices up from about $2.00 to $3.30 per gallon in one year – in a country with more energy than it can consume.
Adhesive, appliances, copper, drywall, electrical equipment, fabricated metals, furniture, HVAC equipment, lumber, PVC, steel – all “delayed,” meaning not enough available.
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs – more than 10% higher than last year.
Labor participation rate way down; walkouts due to jab mandates. “You can’t run a company without these people – they are the ones who know how to do things.” Cancelled flights continuing.
“Here we are at the end of October. Think ahead a little bit. What’s this going to look like in six weeks when the entire United States decides to get on an airplane to visit families for the holidays?”
I will address Carlson’s closing point, as I don’t think he is thinking broadly enough – and neither is Snyder; the issue isn’t a Christmas issue or a 2022 issue…but before coming to this, to address why we are where we are – the most immediate or proximate cause.
It seems to me the simplest answer is the best answer: starting in March 2020, supply was drastically constrained while demand was drastically goosed. There was a time last year that something over 40 million Americans had filed first-time unemployment. Tens of millions of formerly productive workers, sent home to not produce anything.
But, not to worry: they were handed a few thousand dollars – while the Fed added $4 trillion to its balance sheet, the federal government added uncountable trillions in spending, and multi-billionaires saw net worth skyrocket.
So, supply was constrained – tens of millions of workers no longer producing; demand was goosed – uncountable trillions in new spending and bank assets. To think this would have no impact on longer-term supply chains and prices was folly.
And now, on top of this: no jab, no job. And it looks like millions will take (or have already taken) the no job option.
But this is more than a Christmas problem or a 2022 problem. I am wondering what America will look like in twenty or thirty years – assuming no life-ending man-made catastrophe like nuclear war, mass injections, etc.
I am going to use as the baseline the year 1971. Why 1971? The United States defaulted on its international gold exchange agreement, and many things began to change then. Take a look at this website: WTF Happened in 1971?
Every measure of the relative position of middle-class income and wealth to the highest class went from a broader distribution to a drastic narrowing – all in favor of the top 1 percent or 0.1 percent. Every measure of wages to total income began to shrink. Every measure of inflation and debt began to skyrocket. Income for minorities – growing before 1971, stagnated after. The number of international currency crises – way up; bank crashes – way up.
I can’t even begin to address the wasteful government spending programs – in every field from alternative energy to foreign wars to public transportation to banking and industry bailouts…etc. etc., etc., ad nauseum. When resources are so casually wasted for decades, investment in productive resources (and capable people) is compromised.
But all of this comes to my question: I am wondering…who is going to make things? Who is going to fix things? Who is going to be able to do anything with their hands or with their mind? I mean productive things – not things like inventing some new disgruntled class or developing some new grievance studies curriculum. Where is the productive class in America, and what is its future?
Food, utilities, housing, airplanes, cars, appliances. Who will build these? Who will repair these? I don’t mean just this winter, and I don’t mean just next year when millions leave their jobs instead of take the jab. I mean as a result of the wasting of at least two generations of young people – wasted elementary school years, wasted secondary school years, and especially wasted post-secondary school years.
The Fed didn’t even begin tracking student loan debt until 2006, at which time it stood at $480 billion. Today it is over $1.7 trillion. More than tripled in fifteen years. Where did this money go?
This table identifies college bachelor degree graduates by degree granted – from 1971 to 2019. I have separately sorted the degrees based on those which are STEM related and those that aren’t (you won’t see this in the table; I exported the table into a spreadsheet). STEM related fields had an increase in number of graduates of 305%; non-STEM related, 224%. That doesn’t seem so bad, until you go further in the numbers.
STEM related graduates were about 150 thousand in 1971, and 465 thousand in 2019; an increase of three hundred thousand. The major degrees behind this increase, each with a growth of over 80,000 more than in 1971, were in computer sciences, engineering, and biological and biomedical sciences – and you could argue that this last one has been a net negative for society, especially after the last year.
Non-STEM related graduates were about 685 thousand in 1971, and over 1.5 million in 2019; an increase of almost 900 thousand – or more than triple the increase of STEM related graduates. The major fields, as follows:
· Parks, recreation, and leisure: 52,000
· Communication and journalism: 82,000
· Multi/interdisciplinary studies: 47,000
· Public administration / social services: 30,000
· Liberal arts and sciences: 37,000
· Business (includes personal and culinary services): 275,000
· Psychology: 78,000
· Visual and performing arts: 59,000
· Family and consumer sciences: 12,000
· Homeland security, law: 55,000
· Health professions: 226,000
It gets worse. The total for the entire period – almost 50 years: STEM related graduates: 5.5 million; non-STEM related graduates: 21.7 million.
The unemployment rate for young college graduates exceeds that of the general population, and about 41 percent of recent college graduates -- and 33.8 percent of all college graduates -- are underemployed in that they are working in jobs that don't require a college degree, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
They are working in retail; they are the barista at Starbucks or the cashier at your local department store. For sure they aren’t changing oil at the local car dealer.
None of the above addresses important fields that do not require post-secondary education: trucking, mechanics, maintenance, carpentry, plumbing, electric. Anything done with the mind and the hands. Fixing things or building things.
I will go a couple of steps further – anecdotally, but confirmed by many people that I have spoken with.
· Many college graduates in STEM fields have difficulty solving problems or thinking critically when they begin their career.
· Almost every handyman or repairman I come across is at least 60 or even 70 years of age.
I am not satisfied that I have covered this well. The topic has been on my mind for some time, and finally the one piece by Carlson and the other by Snyder have prompted me to write something.
Things aren’t working – all across America and in many fields. The problem was certainly exacerbated due to the reaction in March 2020, but it didn’t start there. Decades of market manipulation, investment in non-productive industries, and wasteful spending on governmental boondoggles have set America on a course of not being able to function.
“Build Back Better” became a slogan almost at the same time as covid became the black plague. The implication of such a slogan: what is currently built must be torn down – else, there is no reason to build “back.”
These policies that have driven us to this point are being implemented on purpose; the economic writing was on the wall in 1971 (and the cultural writing was on the wall much earlier). Those enacting these policies don’t care how many of us die in the meantime.
They certainly don’t care how much of the economy is destroyed, how many planes don’t fly, how many ships remain unloaded, how empty the grocery shelves will be – that is the entire point. You can’t “build back” until you first destroy.
All that matters is that they get to build back.
It won’t be better.