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An Open Letter To The Country

With the election of Donald Trump to the position of President of the United States, many people are in a panic. Fear and predictions of a horrible future are everywhere.

But in reality, we don’t know what will happen until it happens. Will Trump do all the things that he said he will do during his campaign? Doubtful. Has any president ever done all the things they promised or threatened to do? No. Only time will tell what he will try to do, and what the other branches of government, and the people, will allow him to do.

I am seeing some people post on social networks that “we will survive.” But there is no guarantee of this. Every great country and nation eventually collapses. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Incans, Aztecs and all the others eventually collapsed. In more recent times, the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) collapsed. So the collapse of the U.S. is a certainty, but is this that time? No one knows.

As a sidebar, the United States brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union through an arms race. We spent more, and they felt like they needed to spend more to keep up with us. Eventually, the arms race bankrupted them. Good for us as we destroyed an enemy without a war. The problem is that after we won, we kept fighting. We didn’t reduce our military spending, and Trump wants to increase it.

Currently, the United States spends about $600,000,000,000 a year on the military, which is more than the next 7 highest spending countries combined. That’s about 54% of the United States budget. If we aren’t careful, we will suffer the same consequences as the U.S.S.R. We will fall prey to our own trap. But I digress.

Many people say Trump was elected because of lost jobs in steel and other manufacturing, and his promise to bring back these lost jobs. This may be true, but people need to realize that it’s not the government’s job to supply people with jobs. It’s each person’s responsibility to acquire a set of job skills that companies want. In times of change that often means learning new job skills, and/or moving to where jobs can be found.

In my 60 plus years on Earth, I’ve had job fields disappear, requiring me to retrain myself and move to earn a living. Most people don’t like to do this, but that’s just the way life is. There was a time in my life that lasted about fifteen years, where I was changing careers every two to three years. I used to make a great living designing and troubleshooting Excel spreadsheets for companies. But over the course of several years it went from a handful of people knowing how to do this, to every company having several people who could do it. I went from being so busy that I turned down several jobs a week, to going months with no work. Over the course of several months, I retrained myself with new computer and marketing skills, and was soon working for a nice company.

The reality is that the U.S. is no longer a major manufacturing country, and it never will be again. Those who have lost jobs in this sector due to mechanization (robots) and outsourcing to other countries must realize that these jobs are gone forever. Policy changes may bring a few back, but the steel and other manufacturing jobs are gone forever, and these workers need to retrain themselves and move to better job markets. No politician will ever admit to this in public, because it would be career suicide, but it’s the truth.

The reason these jobs are gone forever is that the pay and benefits in the U.S. is so much higher than most other countries. I heard an interview on NPR (National Public Radio) of a man who owns a sock company in the United States. Yes, the things you put on your feet. He said that socks are mostly made by machine, and that he pays the same for the machines and yarn to make socks as any other company in the world.

So his socks cost the same as those made overseas, until people get involved. The toes of the sock must be stitched by a person using a sewing machine. At that point, his socks become much more expensive than socks made anywhere else. When workers in the US are paid three or more times more per hour than workers overseas, and have medical insurance, disability insurance, retirement plans and more, there’s no way to compete financially with countries overseas.

The responsibility of the government is to provide a stable environment (no wars, recessions or out of control inflation) and a working infrastructure (roads, bridges, waterways, air traffic control) so that people and businesses can operation easily, efficiently and with relative stability.

It’s also responsible for providing a safe working and living environment with rules, regulations and penalties for breaking them. That’s why organizations like OSHA and the EPA exist. They keep workers and families safe. Companies complain about having rules, but we’ve all seen how reckless companies get when they have free rein to do whatever they want. Polluted air, water and land, with people getting sick or dying are the consequences of few or no regulations.

People determine the rest by their own wants and needs. Businesses then open up and provide goods and services to meet those needs. You want a cell phone? Companies open up to provide them. If you want a great cell phone for under $500, companies need to find the least expensive way to provide that product and still make a decent profit. I won’t go into the greed factor that many companies have, such as the recent EpiPen price increase where a company sold $1.00 worth of epinephrine in a delivery device for $600. That’s a topic for a different time.

The world changes and you must change along with it. The old saying “Adapt or die” is true. When the world changes and you lose your job, it’s your responsibility to find a way to become valuable to a company or industry. Yes, it’s hard work, and no one really wants to do it. But if you want to survive in a rapidly changing world, you don’t have a choice.

Will Trump destroy America? It’s possible, but unlikely. He certainly has the power to do it, but no one really knows what he will do until he tries. The people (really the Electoral College) put him in office, so the America he creates is our own doing. But it’s also our responsibility to donate to watchdog organizations (ACLU, NAACP, Planned Parenthood, SPLC, etc.) and to volunteer or work for them so that we know what Trump, and all of our politicians, are doing. Shining a light on their activities will keep them honest and citizens informed.

Pull on your big boy or big girl pants and take charge of your life, keep an eye on those in power and create a wonderful life for yourself. Learn from what you did that failed, and remember what you did to achieve success.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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