Steve Klingaman

Steve Klingaman
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
January 01
Steve Klingaman is a nonprofit development consultant and nonfiction writer specializing in personal finance and public policy. His music reviews can be found at

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 4, 2010 8:47AM

The U.S. and Jobs: A Failure of Imagination?

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Wind Farm 

Allshots Imaging – Creative Commons     

                        The U.S. Department of Labor reported some sobering statistics on Tuesday.  Reporting on December the agency found:

  • The jobless rate grew in 371 of 372 metro areas
  • Unemployment was higher than 10% in 138 metro areas
  • El Centro, California reported the highest unemployment rate at 27.7%
  • Employers shed 85,000 jobs
  • There were 929,000 discouraged workers in December, up from 642,000 a year earlier
  • The national unemployment rate of 10% was unchanged

            One small item on the plus side: temporary help services added 47,000 jobs in December.  An uptick in temporary hiring often foreshadows increased permanent hires.  The preliminary January report is due out on Friday.  The ADP private sector employment report, which often presages the Labor Department results, reported yesterday that 22,000 jobs were lost in January.  This number is slightly better than analysts had been guessing.

            Some major news outlets, including National Public Radio, reported that 306 of 372 metropolitan areas experienced increases in job losses, but the actual report, referenced above, says otherwise.

            But a more alarming number came out of Davos, Switzerland last week, from the lips of my least favorite administration economic advisor, Larry Summers.  He said that 20% of men—one in five—between the ages of 24 and 54 were jobless.  This number suggests a reality beyond the official characterizations like “discouraged workers” that serve to skew the stats downward, and that reality is debilitating beyond measure.  The clever media label “mancession,” with its overtones of “manboobs,” has done little to create any understanding of the phenomenon.  For context, consider that 95% of men in that age range were employed in the 1960s.  Summers himself, as quoted in the New York Times, refers to “a statistical recovery and a human recession.”

            This state of affairs reinforces the unpredictable political unrest that pops up like Desperation Whack-a-Mole in different forms around the country.  Are men simply becoming redundant?  The truth, I suspect, is that in a service economy many are.  This prospect complicates any proposed job plans yet to be spun by Democrats or Republicans.  Both sides are selling snake oil when it comes to our prospects coming out of this thing employment-wise.  And I don’t mean for men only.  They are just, with apologies, our canaries in the coalmine in this instance.

We Don’t Make Anything Here Anymore

            Part of the problem is that we don’t make anything anymore.  Grizzled manufacturing types have been saying this, mostly to themselves for lack of interest, for 15 years to no avail.  Why bring it up at all?  Well, President Obama has been touting a green revolution in ways that suggest he sees a job renaissance of major proportions here.  But let’s get real—cash for caulkers is a piddly exercise with no future.  Let’s contrast that with what’s going on in China.

A Look Behind the Industrial Curtain

            The same edition of the Times that contained Mr. Summers’ remark featured another article entitled, “China Leading Race to Make Clean Energy.”  This, I imagine, would be the same race Mr. Obama refers to with his green initiative.  So why, in the face of a worldwide meltdown, has China vaulted ahead on the manufacturing side to take what some see as an insurmountable lead in the field?  I get the sense that Americans were planning on merely talking about making green energy products for a couple more years before we even got down trying anything out.  So now we find that last year China became the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines and will push ahead even farther this year.  I understand there are a million reasons—or 70 million reasons, the number of people in the private Chinese industrial workforce—why China is the leading manufacturing nation.  But advanced manufacturing, high-tech manufacturing, is area where the U.S. could excel if it chose to simply reinvest in American workers. 

            Multinational companies have no incentive to invest in any jobs in the developed world.  A Danish firm, Vestas, just finished constructing the world’s largest wind turbine plant in China, and, according to the Times, is transferring the technology, including technology related to the electronic control systems, to the Chinese.  So, in exchange for labor priced at ten cents on the dollar, the West simply gives away its knowledge economy—the proprietary resource that could propel a revitalization of the manufacturing sector, and energy solutions sector, at home.  Renewable energy jobs in China now number some 1.1 million, with another 100,000 a year coming online.  And how many do we support—actively support—in the U.S?  Probably a tenth of that.

            It is a strange irony that a capitalist, centrally-planned economy is now showing us up in terms of imagination and initiative.  What about those small, nimble little companies that could?  Long fixtures of our nation imagination, these start-ups are locked in a Bambi versus Goliath scenario in attempting to compete with a Chinese monolith.  On the financing side, state-owned banks provide the capital to Chinese firms looking to expand.  The interest rate on that capital is in the range of 2%. Should we even waste a breath on comparing what is going on here?  Just call us the United Stasis of America.

            This and other anomalies confront the American right most substantially, for it is the right that holds to nearly all the premises that result in domestic job-producing gridlock.  To wit, no American first tier manufacturing firm—think Boeing—would consider investing in domestic precision manufacturing for renewable energy on the scale the Chinese have already mastered without federal government contracts to do so.  And there is only one type of government contracts the right favors, and those are defense contracts.  Do we have to ask the Chinese to explain that they did not create their incredible momentum with tax cuts?

            Here, we face the choice of paying extra to convert from coal while in China they are essentially developing new power capacity. Standing at that crossroads, the landscape looks very different from the choices we face. And what they see, I kid you not, is that alternative power (full disclosure:  this includes nuclear) is priced competitively with legacy power generation technologies like coal.  This offers them a domestic market with staggering advantages in terms of economies of scale.  These advantages are leading the Chinese to aggressively export the technology.  And all the West can do is complain that the Chinese have some sort of unfair advantage.  It seems to me that a big component of that advantage is Chinese smarts.

            I’m not here to defend or debate Chinese labor practices.  But if I were, I would point, not to their annual wage rates—about $4,100 a year for a semi-skilled assembly line worker—but to the exponential increase in Chinese wages over the past decade.  Contrast that with our falling and stagnant wages and you understand why they were the stars at Davos this year.  Their economy has actually picked up steam in the worldwide recession—consider that, Cato cretins.

            Even with the advantages of their current momentum, the Chinese charge a renewable energy fee to all electricity users.  Anyone care to propose such a measure here?  Industrial power users there pay a surcharge of .8%.  And here, what do we have? Cap and trade gridlock.  Merely another manifestation of our Gridlock Nation. 

 Moonshot 2.0

            When Chinese firm Shenyang Power Group, Cielo Wind Power, and private equity firm U.S. Renewable Energy Group announced a $1.5 billion Texas wind farm to be funded by Chinese banks last fall, Congress railed against the deal but did nothing substantive.   My question is:  where was Congress while China was implementing a national initiative of staggering proportions?  This deal should have been seen as a Chinese Sputnik.

            Never mind that GE makes wind turbines in the U.S., or that the Chinese had in effect a rule that the wind turbines it procures from abroad must have a 70% domestic Chinese component ratio.  Green jobs are little more than rhetoric in the U.S., while they are a national business strategy in China.  I am not calling for a return to old-school protectionism.  But strategic economic interests—and those interests include good jobs for Americans—should trump an international race to the bottom when it comes to the price of technology.  There needs to be a jobs quotient—a JQ—factored in when we make billion-dollar investments in our future.  And despite the ascendance of global free trade, Europe (the Airbus consortium) and the Far East have factored in the JQ far better than we have.  Why?  Because their governments offer closer scrutiny to the machinations behind corporate bottom lines.

            The problem we face is that of a failure of imagination.  This is not the imagination intrinsic to conceiving of energy solutions, but of implementing them in a manner that addresses our need to confront massive national challenges while preserving good jobs for Americans.  Remaking our energy grid is Moonshot  2.0 and our national leadership, past and present, didn't and doesn’t get it.  That is, they don’t get how to actually do anything about it.  While politicians do nothing more than stymie each other and CEOs maximize quarterly profits by outsourcing everything, Americans are being cheated out of the next phase of a knowledge economy, one in which solutions involve engineering, precision manufacturing, and on-site implementation.

            We are playing at the shallow end of the pool—offering $5,000 subsidies for pizzeria jobs—while the Chinese have developed a coherent strategy to spearhead the growth of green energy technology, and are doing so right under our noses, in Texas.


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I'm skeptical of the green jobs panacea. You may have heard of the Spanish study that showed for every green job created, three dirty ones were killed. Strikes me as the affordable housing of the 21st century.

And then there's the NIMBY factor, which I'm familiar with from Hyannisport. Put the wind farm anywhere--just not where it might spoil my view. There's a guy at the ProJo who wrote a good book about it.

I think your last sentence contains the word that is the key to the whole situation: "strategy."

Here in the U.S. we have no manufacturing or industrial strategy. Instead, we have bunch of free market fruitcakes who think that the "free market" will fix everything, and that any kind of government economic planning or strategy is "socialism" or "communism," or "Marxism."

Things don't happen by magic, and the free market isn't even magic. Trusting in the free market to do economic planning would have been like trusting the free market to organize the invasion of Normandy.

We can't have a manufacturing strategy here for two reasons. First, the "free market" people would never allow it. Second, our political "leaders" have become so corrupt that they would be bought off by god knows what companies. We'd end up manufacturing sand to sell in the desert if some politician could make a buck off of it.

And in the early portion of your post you nail the problem -- with the loss of the manufacturing base, when recessions come they are deeper and longer than they otherwise would be. The economy starts to improve, but there's many fewer manufacturing jobs available to help pick up the slack, and that ripples (or more accurately, fails to ripple) throughout the rest of the economy.

On top of that, a lot of what remains of our manufacturing base is devoted to producing military hardware -- which is fine except that military hardware doesn't make us more productive. We make tanks instead of equipment that can be used to make other equipment or improve quality of life. While we make tanks other countries make high speed rail systems.

But there's plenty of blame to go around, and more than the "free market" people are at fault. While family wage manufacturing jobs vanish the liberals are all het up over gays in the military or some Christmas display in a city park or whether women should be able to go to the abortion doctor more often than to the dentist.

In another 30 or 40 years we're not going to have a country as we have known it. We won't have gays in the military, because we won't be able to afford a military. We won't have Christmas displays in city parks because we won't be able to maintain city parks. Women will be able to have unlimited abortions, but won't be able to pay for them. Once a country loses its productive capacity it resolves all sorts of issues, so to speak.

Great post by the way, and I'm glad to see that the editors get it right once in a while.
Gee, Steve how many jobs do you think it will take to repairs roads, bridges, public works, expand mass transit, replace our electrical grid, develop new refinery capacity, etc? This is all basic stuff, green jobs notwithstanding.

I ride on a commuter train whose overhead electrical source hasn't been updated since the 1920s.

I would mind if Goldman Sachs paid whopping bonus if the fee they collected were for creating acutal businesses that created jobs, not creating phony paper transactions. I would have no gripe with that.
OE: I would include expanding mass transit and replacing our electrical grid under the category of green jobs. As Mishima points out, high speed trains, for example, are manufactured offshore.

As to basic infrastructure, I advocated covering that under the economic stimulus plan--but my point of view largely lost out. While these projects don't generate many jobs, they are well-paying jobs with a good ripple effect. More than that, funding infrastructure is a way of building for the future, so the people who are paying off the debt are benefitting from the good works that debt-funding provided.

This post is really about a comprehensive national initiative that incorporates revitalizing high-end domestic manufacturing. I believe such an initiative could create far more jobs than roads and bridges, for example. But the electrical grid? You should check out that NYT article to see how serious the Chinese are about energy. Thanks for the comments.
No money for infrastructure, no money for healthcare, money for bailouts, money for unnecessary wars, soon the spigot will be empty and many will ask how could we let this happen in our name.

"And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made
and the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls"

"This deal should have been seen as a Chinese Sputnik."


Time to wake up. Also, how about floating the Yuan? How many times are we willing to be bent over by implicit mercantilism?

Korea devalued big time last year and Hyundai has been kicking ass. Why didn't Manufacturing fight for a weaker dollar?
The problem is the capital flow. No one wants to find out what happens if we lower the dollar, because then the Chinese might start playing a very, very different game.
American companies in general treat "green" initiatives much like they do any other buzzword - they invest more in advertising about doing it than they do doing it. Good article !
It's a lot easier to start from scratch than to deal with what you've got. The Chinese are currently lucky in that regard.
As Thomas Friedman likes to say, the Chinese government is run by engineers; the American government is run by lawyers. Great piece, Steve.

Don, please put down the Kentucky bourbon. (Or share some with me.)
Steve, Friedman got that one right. And Don, what is in that glass?
Mishima saved me some typing, as I'll throw in with most of his comment, sans the second to last paragraph, where I will reserve the right to amend.

Don, military spending works best under Central Planning. Isn't that two really bad words?

The Libertarian market model is destroying America. No use in trying to convince them of that, as they have become ideologues.

We're not in any way positioned for "recovery."
I'm surprised...and not surprised...that Obama, etc. don't consider decreasing imports the same as increasing exports. The balance of trade doesn't know the difference.
What we need are scientists who can figure out how we can survive on platitudes.
Great and timely post. It certainly looks like green jobs, which covers a vast range of actual economic activity, is leaving the station. It's not like it's the way of the future; as you point out, the future is now.

Obama's major environmental initiative(s) is/are bound to hit congress this year or next. Given the garbling applied to health care, I'm not cheerily optimistic about green jobs or anything that might benefit the environment. He made the beginning of a very strong case for it in his State of the Union address so maybe there's hope.
Again, I'm going to say that this is EXACTLY the kind of post that should end up on the cover. It is well-researched, based on fact, well-written, interesting, and on an important topic. It moves effortlessly between the personal and the global level.

Bottom line: best cover post of the day. Thanks for taking the time to write this.
We were sold a lie 30 years ago and now that lie is so pervasive, it's the elephant in the room no one sees. The lie was this:
"The 9 scariest words . . . " you all know the rest. With those words (and 2 others, "welfare queen") Ronald Reagan et al tore down the borders and barriers of our country.
Free Trade? Free for who? Capitalism (which is not equal to Democracy as some would like us to believe). Lincoln said Labor was before capital, created capital and was therefore superior to capital. That has been reversed in todays world. To talk against Capitalism is to be branded by McCarthyistic goons as COMMUNIST!
What this country needs is to return to a sensible trade policy which includes tariffs. Screw the idea of a "global economy" we cant even make a cruise missile without the chips we import from China! Does this make sense to anyone? We can have a manufacturing base again if only it is worth manufacturing in the USA. And the only way to do that is to not make the American worker compete with the Chinese worker in terms of income, which is all free trade does. It rewards capital while bending labor over a barrell.
This is the best thing I've read today. Thanks for the thoughtful work.

The United States has been the engine of the world, for most of the 20th century. Most of the great inventions the world uses today were originally developed by imaginative inventors, scientists and, yes, even bankers, who took the chance to finance small start-up companies that went on to dominate their areas of expertise. The very Internet we are using today was developed by an American, Al Gore (just trying to maintain a sense of humor), and the computers we are using have American operating systems. No country has developed more life saving drugs than American Pharma...and instead of awards, this government would destroy any incentive to spend the billions of dollars needed to find cures for disease.

We have this insane focus in Washington on "Green"...and while we invented the cleanest and cheapest source of energy in nuclear, it gets only lip service from our "political leaders" and thousands of rules, regulations and environmental radicals that inhibit the investment of billions of dollars by utilities.

It's not the "renewable" energy that is going to determine what country is the most powerful in the world but the "cheapest energy". We neglect Oil, natural gas, and coal, and have a president who vowed during the campaign to shut down every coal plant, and so a country with huge undeveloped reserves instead have a focus on 'WINDMILLS"! When they write the epithet on the American republic, it will feature a picture of a windmill...and laughing Chinese.

Sure, China is building windmills and attracting foreign investment in new facilities and getting western technology. However, China is also signing long-term contracts for oil with the major producing countries, and will soon be "drilling off Cuba south of Florida".

building a coal fired plant every week! Importantly, China has an aggressive inland nuclear program that will benefit areas with scarce natural resources.
A recent Chinese press release stated," These inland nuclear power stations will all adopt the most advanced Westinghouse-designed AP1000 pressurized water reactors to meet the stringent safety and environment standards." Westinghouse technology....and Obama is pushing WINDMILLS...spending a trillion dollars to replace the present infrastructure that cannot support wind energy, and lying to the American public about costs, and withholding the fact wind farms require "back-up" generation when the wind stops blowing!

You could not make up a story like this. One could go on and on ranting about how America is falling behind economically and,eventually, how that will impact our military dominance.
There was once the Empires of Greece, Rome, of Spain, of the French, Persia, Austria-Hungry, and so many others..all gone. Once Britannia "ruled the waves" and the English Pound was the reserve currency of the world....and now it is an island that has been socially engineered into decay. We cannot take our republic for granted....and the people are now awake to what is going on in Washigton.

It is not the lack of imagination that will be the cause of the decline in America, but a bloated government that these days is out of control, wastefully borrowing and spending money, and building a balance sheet with long-term liabilities and political mandates that the nation will never be able to repay.

America can still hold it's economic dominance, but not without a major change in political leadership that focuses on capitalism, not big, corrupt, abusive and wasteful government.
Dear Joe Z: What a refreshing return to the last decade: the free market will solve it all. You illustrate another point: control the language and you control the debate. Windmills. Are used to pump water from wells using 17th Century technology.

Oh, and please, show us where President Obama "vowed during the campaign to shut down every coal plant." I don't mind misinformation, but don't have a particular regard for disinformation.

As to nuclear, lots of people are talking about again. Fine. But to bring it up as a panacea would be foolishly premature for an obvious reason. Waste. Disposal.

Alternative energy, green energy, or even partially-green energy, if you will, has such an obvious role in our energy mix of the future that a debate on your terms would be utterly futile.

As to statements like, "America can still hold it's economic dominance, but not without a major change in political leadership that focuses on capitalism, not big, corrupt, abusive and wasteful government.", after the capitalist masters of the universe on Wall Street brought the whole economy down on our heads while producing virtually nothing of use to a real economy--well, your characterization is just laughable.
All the points made in the post are good points; I'd like to add a perspective: think about our history since WWII. We came out of it essentially the only major manufacturing base left intact by the war. The 50s+60s were a boom time for american factories and workers ... and then the imports started coming in.

Our current problems are legion, but we have allowed the Chinese to maintain artificial exchange rates, and with these they are eating us alive. Our oil imports are also a serious problem, collectively they produce a balance-of-trade crisis.

I'm going to put it to you plainly, that we either need to get the Chinese to float their currency, or the trade barriers need to go up.

Joe Zollo- you rant all the 'conservative' ranting points but have no actual plan of action, do you? If you want government spending to fall, detail exactly what cuts you believe must be made, and what they will save.

Nuclear power is certainly NOT the cheapest energy. And if cheap energy is the key to a good economy why is California the most prosperous and fastest growing (economically) state in the union?
Hi Steve...Thanks for the note...

“Dear Joe Z: What a refreshing return to the last decade: the free market will solve it all. You illustrate another point: control the language and you control the debate. Windmills. Are used to pump water from wells using 17th Century technology.”

You are correct. I must have confused you somehow by saying “windmills” instead of “windfarms”.
You do know that “windfarms” require “back-up” fossil fuel generators….but that might be too technical a consideration. You must have missed Obama’s interview with the SF Chronicle. Obama’s words were 180 degrees opposite those so passionately expressed to “coal miners” in Virginia. You are quite correct… “control the language and you control the debate”. We have a masterful wordsmiths Mr. Obama and his speechin the writers.

Earlier, in Virginia, this masterful speaker told the coal miners an entirely different story. At least the man is consistent phony
Alternative energy, green energy, or even partially-green energy, if you will, has such an obvious role in our energy mix of the future that a debate on your terms would be utterly futile.…he has a story for every audience…tell them what they want to hear…!
“As to nuclear, lots of people are talking about again. Fine. But to bring it up as a panacea would be foolishly premature for an obvious reason. Waste. Disposal.”

Steve, "Waste Disposal!" It seems as if France has found a solution to waste disposal….this administration seems to be in love with so many things European, particularly healthcare, why do they pass on the opportunity to emulate France, even though it would be quite embarrassing for Americans who founded the nuclear energy industry might feel.
Within a month of taking his oath of office..(twice I seem to recall), Obama started the process to fulfill a campaign promise and SHUT DOWN YUCCA MOUNTAIN! In Obama's 2011 budget there is “zero” funding for Yucca, and so the “greenies” running this administration win another battle…and America loses. We have over 400 nuclear plants in the country and nuclear is the second largest contributor of power in the country. And this man who would lead us into the 21st century would avoid the best “green” energy source on the planet.
While we wait for “green technology” to bear more than “green shoots”, we could slide back into a deeper recession, compounded by our continued loss in Competitive Advantage!
We have an abundance of coal and the means to transport it and minimize carbon dioxide output, the American Oil Industry is the world leader in proficiency, and should be let free to discover and prove up more reserves of both oil and natural gas. We would be able to crush the power of OPEC if we were able to provide more in country fossil fuels but that would work against the “green movement” that needs the world to see high oil prices to justify the outrageous waste of taxpayer money on wind and solar.
Of course alternative sources of cleaner energy should be explored. However, we are in the middle of the worst recession in over 70 years…our country is suffering 10% unemployment, with the real number closer to 20%....and the Obama administration refuses to take steps to leverage the natural resource strength of America.
“As to statements like, "America can still hold it's economic dominance, but not without a major change in political leadership that focuses on capitalism, not big, corrupt, abusive and wasteful government.", after the capitalist masters of the universe on Wall Street brought the whole economy down on our heads while producing virtually nothing of use to a real economy--well, your characterization is just laughable.”

Steve, similar to your other comments, rather than join in a discussion you resort to sophomoric personal attack. That the greed bankers resulted in the near collapse of the economy,is not a question. However, why do liberals STOP in the blame game with big old ugly Wall Street, when the seeds of todays woes were sown not on a Street but on an “Avenue”…Pennsylvania Avenue.
Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to ‘meet the credit needs’ of ‘low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.(red lining)’" Banks responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly risky loans. Rather than 10% of 20% required down payments, zero down financing, interest only financing, and NO interest financing deals were created.
According to democrats in the House, everyone was “entitled” to a home, and the banks went about trying to make tht dream a reality....a dream that turned into a nightmare for so many. Politicians accepted huge “contributions” from FannieMae and FreddieMac, allowed those institutions to load up their portfolios with sub-prime loans. When government analysts reported the danger and stress being put into the portfolio’s of those institutions, they were beaten up…and eventually were dispersed into the bowels of another agency.
Thus, a loop was completed for “packaged mortgages” created from the mortgage originators, investment bankers, mortgage brokers, non-existent ‘oversight” by the government…and a public more than happy to buy a home with no money down rather than pay rent. Really, who among us who have traveled to California from other States looked in wonderment at the lunacy of housing prices, with “teardowns” selling for $700,000 and up!
Someone, someday, will actually do some research on this bubble without an axe to grind in protecting one faction or another. We have only heard the tip of the iceberg on this one.
Joe, I think you should write your posts and make your case. First of all, I never reference Fox News, so your youtube reference is useless to me. I think you misapprehend what Obama was saying about the coal industry. Either you build it in a manner to make it carbon neutral by financial offsets or you don't build it. There is no such thing as clean coal. And if you take a look at the political economy of West Virginia you will know that cheap coal = a raped Appalachia and power generation using third rate crappy power plant technology. Obama rightly insisted that be the goal.

That said, there is no way to wean ourselves from coal at the moment. And candidates do sometimes say things they cannot uphold as presidents. Republicans do this, too.

As to a personal attack, a laughable assertion is just that--I made a comment on your assertion, that's all--and that assertion was monumentally wrong. By the way, there are a dozen good books out there on the economic meltdown. Of course Washington failed under Bush to regulate. That was the goal. And Clinton started that ball rolling by emulating laissez faire Republican policies.

But, it was the American banking, insurance and mortgage industries that caused our meltdown.

You raise other points as well. Feel free to make the case otherwise, but don't back it up with Fox.
You forgot...guns or butter. That is always a great phrase to throw out to a dumbed down society.
Joe, I'm curious, are you the Joe Zollo who works for Morgan Stanley? If so, I think OS would be very interested to read your perspective on the economic meltdown, especially if the information you offer were to be based on your experience at Morgan, as opposed to excerpts from Fox News.

I personally would like to read your insider's critique of NPR's Planet Money series on the meltdown and the Frontline series "Inside the Meltdown." If you can rebut the assertions made in news programming like this, the world truly needs to hear your free market perspectives.
The problem is that we are living under a lobbyist financed regime of social capitalism, where corporate financial failure is rewarded with subsidies that allow CEOs to keep their jobs, while workers bear the brunt of the dwonside and live, like me, on Congressional whims of whether to extend unemployment benefits for another six months, or not.

To compete we can either join the race to the bottom, which tea baggers will cheer until they find themselves working in noisy, dangerous factories for pennies an hour, or we can become a social democracy with strong unions and an industrial policy that supports innovative engineering ventures and demands a large amount of domestic content.

I know that the Republicans, and Blue Dog Democrats, will oppose this, just like they oppose single payer healthcare as the first step in imposing a communist regime, gulags and all.

Just wait until the tea baggers are working in a chicken processing plant without even minimum wage protection. That might change a few minds.
Stimulus money seems to go into road work, or fixing public buildings. Jobs are not created, as the construction workers are waiting for their next assignment. Many job openings exist in engineering and software development; if you have a clearance that's a plus. People that have done prison time will not get a clearance, as our justice system makes sure you are penalized for life. However, you can run for office. Green jobs are fine, but the pay back time for green projects is long away, and it's hard to get VC money to get started.

The difference between the US and China is obvious. China doesn't have to deal with corrupt politicians, lobbyists, and a lack of leadership. In the US, squabbling is king, sponsors need to make a killing, and leadership is missing. The future for the US looks bleak. China has a work ethic; the US has a "gimme" ethic. The list goes on. Thousands of blogs will be written about how Obama gets nothing done, and the US will continue to suffer. No other country would put up with such incompetence.
About Corte33's comment "China doesn't have to deal with corrupt politicians, lobbyists, and a lack of leadership. "

Well . . .

BBC - "China's one-party system has struggled to deal with endemic corruption, much to the annoyance of the general public. "
"China communists get new anti-corruption ethics code
By Quentin Sommerville
BBC News, Beijing
In China, the Communist Party has issued a new 52-point ethics code, in an attempt to control growing corruption among officials.
The code bans members from property speculation, money-making deals, and lavish expenditure. "
"Officials should also stay out of profit-making deals, the code says.
But few do. "
"Corruption up among China government officials
China's anti-corruption watchdog has said that 106,000 officials were found guilty of corruption in 2009, an increase of 2.5% on the year before.
The number of government officials caught embezzling more than one million yuan ($146,000; £91,000) jumped by 19% over the year. "
"With no independent oversight of the ruling communists, corruption has bloomed, our correspondent adds. "

And hey, while we're speaking about nuclear power;
"The head of the China National Nuclear Corporation - overseeing the country's nuclear industry - was dismissed and is under investigation over allegations of bid rigging in nuclear power plant construction worth $260m. "

It is probably a good bet that human beings are guaranteed to be human beings. And politicians to be politicians.

Q: Gee, do I sound like I might not be real impressed with China?
A: Anyone know if China has ever had a few human rights issues?