In this the final part of my infrastructure overview, I want to look at the real potential for meaningful change as the American Rescue Plan converges with the American Jobs plan to provide real momentum for meaningful change.
Biden has remained laser focussed on the vaccination rollout and this has been an absolute resounding success. If the same federal approach had been taken to protecting Americans by Trump at the outset of the crisis, the huge death toll would have been dramatically reduced and many family members would still be sat around the dinner table today.
As things stand, in the months ahead, all Americans that are prepared to be vaccinated will have the protection needed to enable them to start moving back to some sense of normality, as the economy is fired up again. There's a great deal of pent up growth that will be unleashed as life moves back to a new sense of normality. Biden is more than aware that while the US has been wresting with the chaos caused by the gross incompetence of the previous administration, China has had the opportunity to reassess its position in the world and move on accordingly. While the US paid little attention to anything but Trump's ego in the last 4 years, China and Russia have moved closer together and Russia in particular, has started to flex its military presence around the world.
In order to respond to the growing threat from China and Russia the US must get beyond this game of constantly battling with itself. The Russians in 2016 achieved what will go down in history as the biggest victory against the old enemy. Its tactics of promoting and encouraging political division in the US has been a success way beyond their expectations. It has stalled its great enemy on virtually every front, from the economy, to its standing and influence on the world stage. Putin knows that Biden is a threat to his agenda, so rest assured Russian efforts to incite more political division will step up, as we move to the 2022 mid term elections.
How does this relate to infrastructure I hear you ask? To which I reply, 'It's the economy stupid'. The critical goal now for Biden is rebuilding the economy, not with a useless 'sugar rush' of tax breaks as the Republicans would advocate, but to build an economic foundation from which real progress can be made. He needs to heal the division created by the irresponsible fiscal behaviour of the Trump years. The American Rescue Plan provides the primer to ease the pressure put on families and small businesses. It provides investment to fill the massive hole created by economic inactivity. However, most importantly, it helps the families literally abandoned by the last administration, to begin to put their lives back together, in preparation for the economy to open up again.
The big misconception peddled by the wealthy and the privileged, is that the poor and the unheard are lazy and don't want to work. They didn't want them to get Covid relief because they didn't want to encourage them to stay at home instead of returning to their slave labor low wage jobs. Capitalism has lost its soul (if it ever had one) and many US businesses have become dependent on paying very low wages to their employees. It's not for nothing that unionised labour is the enemy of US business. They don't care that for some, they have to work 3 jobs just to make ends meet. The American dream for millions of families is an American nightmare and not anything resembling a dream.
The American Jobs Plan, is the first step to addressing the enormous inequality that exists, by investing in millions of jobs right across the employment sector. If it's done correctly, it will force wages up in sectors where workers are currently exploited. The van driver on minimum wage will be able to apply for a better paid job driving for a construction firm building a new road or laying new pipes. It's all about creating new jobs, but also about shaking up the current jobs market too. The potential for continued economic growth is undeniable. Take China as an example. The reason China is the major economic threat to the US, is because they recognised that to grow they needed infrastructure.
For years now, while the US has presided over crumbling bridges, roads and wider infrastructure like dams, rail and the power grid. In the meantime, the Chinese have been building 21st century infrastructure at a pace the US can even now, only dream of. The irony is, they have done it with US and other global investment in Chinese manufacturing. Whilst we thought we were exploiting their cheap wages, they slowly but surely became the manufacturing drug of choice, as the west overdosed on producing cheap goods there to increase the bottom line. The Chinese quietly smiled as their factories became the crack cocaine of manufacturing for capitalism. Now who's being exploited? It was a standing joke, 'oh another Chinese knock off', as they got really good at copying western product innovations. The view was, they weren't a threat because all they could do is copy. WRONG, now they innovate as well as any of their western competitors. Western arrogance has led us down so many wrong routes, but we keep on treading the same old same old paths.
The US could learn a great deal from China, but it's arrogance prevents it from doing so. In 2020 even in the midst of a pandemic, the Chinese built over 4,000km of rail infrastructure and 2,300km of that was high speed rail. They build it quicker and faster than any other country in the world. This is the reality of what the US is up against a competitor. The Chinese economy grew by 2.3% in 2020, whilst the US economy shrank by 3.5%. In the world of Republican politics, you demonize the Chinese using the old cold war slang of 'commie bastards', but the reality is, a significant percentage of corporate America, has used and continues to use Chinese manufacturing to drive up its own bottom line.
In my view, it would be a catastrophic mistake to not implement the American Jobs Plan. If the US does not grasp this opportunity with both hands, it will just be waving at the Chinese on their way to becoming the number one economy in the world. While the US debates infrastructure, the Chinese are building it across Africa and other parts of the world, gaining access to key minerals, resources and global influence as they go. For me, these are 'no brainer' choices. You can continue to believe the lies of the right that America needs nobody to be great, or you can wake up to the reality that the Chinese are coming and unless you recognise it, the future will prove to be a major challenge.
Republican lawmakers will oppose the plan at every twist and turn, so it's up to Biden and his team to reach out to voters, tell them the truth and ask them to help build back a better America. The jury is still out on the outcome as US politics once again stands in the way of progress.