Distraction Costs

July 12, Da Lat, Vietnam

We should be focused on the best opportunity, the only realistic opportunity ahead for the US–driving our country forward to lead the knowledge economy of the future. Our underlying objective in this pursuit should be a good job for everyone.

A good job is one that provides enough income for adequate housing, food, and other necessities. A good job provides enough for health care for the family. There is sufficient income to allow a prudent family to save enough to be able to deal with most emergencies. It is adequate to send children to decent schools. We currently have a lot of workers who have jobs, but not “good jobs.” It doesn’t have to be this way.

The jobs problem is at the essence of what troubles our country, resulting in large swaths of voters retreating to populist fringes on the left and the right, and electing Donald Trump, who proved adept at channeling the anger to false targets, such as immigrants and foreign countries.

Instead of focusing on what is essential and critical, we are distracted by the Russian entanglements of the Trump administration. We are also knee deep in bitter acrimony and accusations between polarized political media sources and politicians. Our President wants to turn backward and make a futile attempt to recover the manufacturing economy. Basic manufacturing is now better served by lower cost countries. Our politicians are fighting over how much welfare we can justify.

The current administration seems more interested in increasing the lot of wealthy than in shared prosperity.

The media behaves like medieval warriors, catapulting fire bombs at each other. Sean Hannity and Fox News are the loudest extreme media voice for Trump and Conservative causes, finding nothing but praise for the Trump administration. Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo, and others at CNN stir up liberals with all kinds of suspicions of the Trump inner circle. On the Liberal side of politics, we are daily treated to the concerns of Adam Schiff and Chuck Schumer, and on the other end, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and cohorts amaze everyone with their loyalty and defense of some of the clearly ridiculous behaviors of our new President.

Thus, most of the attention of the public and politicians is focused on these matters, and not on what is certainly the essence of it all. We are all at fault for this. Donald Trump’s administration is at fault for not focusing on the right issues, but rather on such as highly flawed proposals in health care and taxes which are likely to only exacerbate inequality and reduce opportunity. The media is at fault for devoting too much attention to these matters. We the citizens are at fault for not rising up and demanding focus on what is critical.

In the end, much of the Russia hype may well simply boil down to no conspiracy with Russia, just a lot of collaboration, which is detestable, but not illegal. And while many of us would love for President Trump to behave like an adult, at the least, the reality that he seems a petulant child is not the real issue. There are enough other influencers and controls to proceed, even with a child at the helm.

There can be little question that the most critical issue facing the US is creating the pathway to a future economy in which workers can count on good jobs. If we were marching down this path, discontent would drop dramatically. If we focus on jobs of the future with shared prosperity as our goal, the amount of welfare needed will reduce substantially.

There is a huge cost to all the continuing distraction. We are losing ground in repairing infrastructure, in proving health care for all, in education, and most critically in addressing the creation of good jobs for everyone in the future knowledge economy.

 

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