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Don Yarber Don Yarber
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Cyber Economy

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Talking away good money!

America, Land of the Cyber Economy

       Today another fifty thousand cell phones will be sold in America.  That is greater than the number of toothbrushes that will be sold today.  At least I think it is, considering all of the people I meet who have a bad case of halitosis.

       We have become a nation of cyber economy.  

       If you buy a new car today, consider all of the people who are directly employed in producing that automobile.  There are the people who manufacture the tires, the steel, the plastics, the carpets, the wire, the oil, the gasoline, the radios, the lights, and so forth, right down to the people employed in making the owner’s manuals.  So if you buy a new car, a large percentage of the dollars you spend will be returned to the economy.
       If you buy a new cell phone, what percentage of your dollars will be returned to America’s economy?

       Very little.  Over 80 percent of all cell phones are not even made in America.  They come from Japan, China, Korea, and many other countries outside of the United States.  About the only thing that is made in America is the software that drives the cell phones.  Little of the money spent in the cell phone industry is returned to the economy.  You may argue that people are employed to put up new towers, and you would be right.  But for every tower that goes up, there are probably 3 million cell phones sold.  The money spent on towers is a drop in the bucket compared to the money spent on the cell phones.

       I bet you own a cell phone, don’t you?  I do.  I use it mostly for emergences, my wife uses hers ENTIRELY for emergencies.  Once in a while I will make or receive a call to one of my brothers.  I never, never text anyone.  If I’ve got something to say to someone, why not say it verbally instead of wearing out my thumb muscles texting?  The time, energy, and money that Americans spend talking or texting is never returned to the economy, it is gone.  Disappears into cyber space.  

       But cell phones are NOT the total reason that our economy is sad shape.  The primary reason is WAR.  The war in Iraq cost a billion dollars a day, 30 billion dollars a month for more than 6 years.  Money that is gone.  

       So what happened to all of the jobs America has lost?  
       Here’s the jist of it all.  Greed.  I could have made that word in all caps and it would have stood out more, but it is still there.  Greed!  

       In the seventies stockholders everywhere complained to their directors that they were not making enough money on their investments.  Directors listened since their positions and bonuses were dependent on staying attuned to the desires of the stockholders.

       So instead of paying an assembly line employee $10 per hour to make television sets, the CEOs exported the jobs to Mexico, China and Japan where they could pay assembly line employees $1 per hour.  By the end of the seventies only 3 percent of all televisions sold in America were made in America.

       Automakers soon caught on and started exporting jobs.  Suddenly motors were made in Mexico, bumpers in Taiwan, seats in China, for a tenth of what they would have cost had the items been manufactured in America.  But the price of the automobiles remained the same, if not higher.  

       By the late 80’s to mid 90’s there were not enough people in manufacturing making enough money to buy the automobiles and televisions being built in foreign lands.  Sales dropped.  When sales dropped, more employees were laid off.  Those employees found themselves working for perhaps 70 percent of their former wages.  Faced with higher prices for homes, cars, and televisions, but limited to 70 percent of their former earnings, these people quit buying new things.  Thus more people were laid off.

       It was (and is) a continuing spiral towards economic disaster.

       Then along came NAFTA and other “free trade” agreements that are really designed to keep congress from passing “fair trade” agreements by imposing tariffs.  

       By 2005 cell phones were the new status symbol.  No longer were the affluent people ones who could afford new cars, now everyone could afford “status”.  All they had to do was buy a cell phone.  Everyone wanted one.  It was “look at me, folks, I’m somebody, I have a cell phone.”
       You could see them everywhere.  Wal-Mart shoppers were calling home and asking if the kids were OK.  Kids were calling each other asking what the answer was to question ten on the English exam.  Everyone had a cell phone.  Millions of dollars were spent.  Only hundreds went back into the economy.  We became a nation consumed by cyber economy.

       Oh well, I’ve ranted enough.  Besides, my cell phone is ringing.

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