In more ways than one, America is back

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

Do your jobs, so we can do ours. – Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO, US Chamber of Commerce

I grew up in an era when we Americans defined ourselves as uniquely “can-do”, fair, just, and of course, as contributing members of the ultimate “land of opportunity”.

Our freedoms and our innovations were, for decades, a model for other countries and economic systems.

We claimed, willingly, even eagerly, the moral high ground in economics, food production, education, legal representations and protections, voting rights and a dozen or so more areas of rights, obligations and opportunities for every citizen – including those who would claim and work for opportunities and freedoms not available in their nation of origin.

This, to quote a phrase, is the foundation of what makes America, or any country, truly and durably “great”.

Our economy, our legal system, our electoral system and our nation can only be “great” if we act according to our deepest beliefs and values – not when we give in to our greatest fears and worst tendencies.

Opportunity is, by definition expansive and future oriented.

Dwelling on the past, no matter how idyllic we might imagine it was, is futile – spoiler alert; the past was never ideal. The ultimate bottom line, in every arena of life, business and politics (among others) there is no going back – there is only moving forward.

Learning from the past is crucial, obsessing about it is paralyzing.

And moving into the future, informed, but not bound by, what has come before, equips, even frees us for economic (and many other) dynamics that we have never seen before.

That, in summary, was the message of the US Chamber of Commerce State of American Business 2023 on Thursday, January 12, 2023. You can see the entire program here.

Slow and steady growth

If there is anything many of us learned (or certainly should have) in the past few years, it is that solid and stable growth is vastly more durable than the dazzling and alluring promises of digital/cyber currencies and “investments” (like NFTs) that surge, swing, and often evaporate in the eight (or more) digit dollar amounts.

The (literal) nuts and bolts, and bricks and mortar, and dollars and cents are, to the surprise of some of us (apparently) a solid foundation of an education, a career, an industry and even an entire economy.

In contrast, entire categories of our economy have been built on promises, fantasies, wishful thinking and outright scams.

Political (and sometimes economic) policies and procedures are all too often inspired by vindictiveness and petty rivalries or turf wars.

Our political system is not designed for the benefit of political parties – or any agenda, no matter how frenzied or frothing media opinionators might frame it – but, for the long term good of most, if not all of us.

And that holds true for our economic systems as well.

Opportunity, engagement and protected rights for all makes us all better off.

The math could not be more simple or relentless; the more we all prosper, the more we all prosper.

The opposite is also relentless and unforgiving; the more some are held back, the more we all suffer.

America’s Grievance Tour is over

You may have noticed that the common complaints about our current economy are incoherent and contradictory. “No one wants to work any more”, “Those people are going to take our jobs”, “I can’t find workers with the skills I need” and, of course the “Help wanted” signs that are everywhere. And, on the ranting cable news shows, the passionate wailing about our “broken immigration system”.

It’s time to wipe away those alligator tears, take off that diaper and get to work.

The “Do your jobs, so we can do ours” statement from Suzzanne Clark was aimed at politicians, but it applies to all of us.

It’s long past time to stop complaining (and listening to the fearful ravings of those who profit from our worst impulses) and get to work – and yes, demand that those CEOs and politicians, and even those near-mythic entrepreneurs and billionaires, do their jobs and stop their petty self-indulgences from vanity space projects to pointless twitter-wars.

One way or another, we workers, we the people, or whatever term you want to use for regular non-celebrity, non-billionaire people down the street or down the hall are ready for some honest work, good words and basic decency. We’ve had enough glitz, lies and empty promises.

One thing we all know for certain; we are better than what we have been, and we’ll all be better off when we are all better off.