Katrina and Rita Illuminate the Permanent Underclass - Opinion and Commentary by Chuck Harder

The dirty little secret about the USA's failed policies of "Globalism and Free-Trade" was revealed when hurricanes peeled back the Gulf Coast and exposed what most inside the Beltway never confront: the expanding permanent underclass. These are often people that used to have a job at one of tens of thousands of factories that have left our shores. Remaining "Service Jobs" pay such terrible wages that the standard of living for the masses slips a little more each day. I have warned America about this since 1987 and in return have been criticized and called about every name in the book. Some in the industry say that I have been "blackballed" for expressing my views that go against the grain of the mega-corporations.

As I watch the elite panelists spout their global dreams on the Washington-based TV talk and news shows - it's obvious that none of them have ever used a Kerosene pump. Little do they know that millions and millions of gallons of "Kero" are sold at fuel stations across the Southeast and elsewhere. Those in the fuel business know that the amount of K-1 as Kerosene is called goes up each year and sales are booming. Yet there are only two potential uses for K-1: oil lamps and small room heaters. So it makes you wonder - what are people doing with all that Kerosene? The answer in my part of North Florida is that there are a few homes with no electricity and they still use oil lamps. The biggest use is for small unvented room heaters so that the working poor can close off most of the house and afford to heat the living room and kitchen. Thus they sleep on the couch and can watch TV while not paying to heat the entire house.

When the weather starts to cool you will see lines of people with their small containers waiting for their turn to pump a few gallons of K-1 to take home. They have no other option to heat their homes as electric heaters cost too much to run and some houses don't have sufficient wiring. Stores like Wal-Mart and others normally have new Kerosene room heaters stacked high and ready to sell by late September. While K-1 is about the same price as propane the working poor often cannot scrape-up the necessary funds to have a propane tank set and plumbed to a more expensive heater.

While this sounds "Third-World," that's essentially what is happening to the USA in what I call "fly-over country." Those who make the policies don't bother to confront what the working class faces as they jet across the USA from coast to coast. I would invite them to come to small-town America and tour the closed industrial parks. Often buildings that were built with local bond money will have trees growing through the roofs as they have sat idle for years. Don't blame unions as these plants were all non-union and paid a few dollars more than minimum wage. The local people were all fired when NAFTA and GATT opened up the "penny-wage" countries that now sew our clothes, make our shoes and whatever plugs into the electric wall socket.

So I ask the Globalists: "Was it worth it?" There is crack-cocaine on about every street corner of small-town USA and rising crime - but no jobs! Many economists who promoted the global dreams are now facing the reality of what has happened to the USA. We borrow two billion dollars a day from Red China which has a value-added economy so that we can finance our service economy that is all that remains. The big question is how do you ever pay them back? It was manufacturing, mining and farming that made the USA what we once were. In just a few administrations of embedded political fools we have gone from solvency to the worlds largest debtor nation.

While many economists and former "Free-Trade" believers are now confronting this reality there is a massive problem to overcome. We must begin again to manufacture what we consume. It's also a national security issue as we cannot source the electronic parts that go into our cruise missiles or high-tech weapons anymore in the USA. That's simply insane for a nation that rebuilt the world after World War Two.

Those inside the Beltway or who run the media are all members of the "I've got mine club." None of them will ever feel any discomfort from the failed policies they put into place. This is brought home to me as I see the public-service TV ads where George H. W. Bush, Sr. and his new friend Bill Clinton are "passing the hat" for hurricane victims. Yet these are the two men who bankrupted America. G.H.W.B. ended alternative energy programs during the first Reagan-Bush administration and also enabled the creation of NAFTA and GATT. It was Bill Clinton that made sure both passed. And while these two men say they "feel our pain" you can be assured that in the real world - they never, never will.

More of Chuck on the Rita and Katrina Fallout, and your Tax Dollars. Click here to listen.

Send comments to Chuck Harder: [email protected]

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