Press TV has conducted an interview with Mike Harris, finance editor of Veterans Today from the city of Phoenix, to shed light on the outlook for the United States’ economy and the Americans’ view about the future of their country.
What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Mike Harris let me ask you whether you agree with this Associated Press poll, of which most Americans, as deemed by the results, are pessimistic about the future. The number 54 percent expect American life to go downhill, 23 percent think it will improve.
Do you agree and why?
Harris: Well, I absolutely agree with the view. There has been a number of what I would call policy mistakes going back to 1965 until present. You look at the immigration reform act in 1965, it has been changing the demographics of this country ever since. You look at the immigration problem that we have here, when we have 50 million illegal aliens living here and all of these things depress wages in the US.
You look at the failure of the free trade agreements, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement), GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade); allowing China enter the WTO.
All of these things have put downward pressure on the American worker and it left the American workers not prospering and doing well, but the American people are not doing well [either].
Wall Street is doing tremendous, Wall Street is prospering but that is because the Federal Reserve Bank has been pumping so much liquidity into the system but it is not trickling down to main street at all and the American people are hurting.
In fact in the last decade the American people have lost 40 percent of their net worth. We have more people out of work than ever. The unemployment statistics that we see have been adjusted, they have changed the metrics.
If we were using the same metrics that were used back in 1980, then we would have the unemployment number probably 20, 22 percent, 23 percent and so it is understandable that people would have a very pessimistic issue because they are working harder, they are making less money and the prospects…, the jobs simply are not there and until we change and evaluate these failed policies things are going to continue downhill.
Press TV: Well, Mike Harris, let us extend a little bit further on what Carol Gould there said. I mean when we want to look at the government shutdown for example, I mean patience was growing thin with many Americans during that time, the Americans were facing an uncertain future with the antics that were going on in the Congress. Republicans and the bickering that was going on and it is very interesting that during that time, House Speaker John Boehner said when he was asked what happened in November 6, 2012? This is what he said: “Was there something going on that night I was not made aware of?
Of course that is the time when Obama got reelected. How much did this type of political bickering between the Democrats and the Republicans affect the way that Americans view the Congress?
Harris: Well, let us look at our political parties right now, because we have Democrats and Republicans, we have left and right; it is really a false paradigm, because if you look at who the major contributors are to both parties, the top ten contributors, the ones who give the most money, are the same to each party.
So really we have a single party in this country and that is the Wall Street Party, it is not the American people party and the American people need to start evaluating their politicians on the basis of, is my life getting better? Is my quality of life improving? Or is it declining? And in most cases you are going to find this, declining.
Just because Wall Street is doing well, main street is dying, the main street is dying, the main street is suffering. I mean every strip mall, every shopping center, there is vacancies, everywhere, small businesses going away. And Ms. Gould made reference to union membership. Union membership is down, it is historically at a low level.
My grandfather was president of the United States’ workers union in Saint Louis back in the day when he still was alive and that is when the labor movement was vibrant, but while Reagan, through deregulation, allowed consolidation of all industries in this country; we used to have numerous airlines, now we are down to five or six, we used to have numerous televisions and media outlets and now we are down to six.
There is consolidation across the board that has been brought about by this deregulation and really we are having less competition in this country, we are having, really, corporate dominance of every factor of American life and it is time for the American people who have always been pro-small businesses and entrepreneurial in nature and that is being crushed and that needs to be revised.
Again referring to free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, letting China in to the WTO, this was a wholesale exporting of US jobs and until the United States government takes a position to rectify that mistake and realize that these free trade agreements where mistake, that they were detrimental to the American worker…, China is doing very great; we had a very good Christmas, they are making a lot of money but the American workers are not seeing the benefits of the stimulus that is being provided by the Federal Reserve.
So things like maybe an import tariff on everything that is not manufactured in USA, no matter whose label it is on, I do not care if it is General Electric or General Motors or Apple Computer. If they do not make in the US, put a 45 percent tariff on it, that will drive jobs back into this country because they will make it more difficult to take advantage of cheap labor in China and of course the other third world countries.
Press TV: Well, Mike Harris, from the outside looking in, just a few things here come to mind when we look at 50 plus million Americans who are on food stamps for example or the ones who are unemployed, for example the one million who are on federal assistance, that their assistance now got cut off.
We look at how the United States sends over three billion dollars annually for example to Israel or the trillions of dollars that they have spent on wars and are still engaged, not to mention the upkeep of over 700 military bases, you know, these budgets…, or their nuclear facilities, and upgrade of 300 billion dollars recently was announced.
Does not that seem like budgets should be focused on Americans themselves? Just from the outside looking in, when we are looking at the dire state of economy.
Harris: Well, first of all I agree with Ms. Gould because we are still in control of our destiny here in this country. We can make the policy adjustments that we need to get our country back on track.
Like I said, we have had a series of misguided policies and it is time to address those policies and your point about military spending being out of control, the US spends more than the next ten countries combined, on the military.
Dwight Eisenhower warned us back in 1959 to be aware of the military industrial complex, and we should, because that is who makes the money. They make the most of the money, they have an enormous budget, nothing is ever cut, it only grows.
They will cut veterans’ benefit, they will cut medical care for veterans but they will not cut spending on these projects.
Our budget needs to go through a line by line review and US made a policy mistake when they took away the president’s authority to, essentially, have a line-item veto; his rescission authority. When they did that, the Congress went out of control and all these guys could spend as much money as they wanted and the US really has got to get the priorities right.
I am not particularly in favor of expanding social programs because you will….., Lyndon Johnsons, the war on poverty, we are going to help everyone up. Now here we are, four or five generations later, we have people, families who have not worked in four or five generations. We have made a welfare dependency.
We need to change that and realize that the best social program is a good job and if we can get people to work, the American people to work, deporting illegal aliens and shutdown our legal immigration process until we can get everyone in this country fully employed, but like I said put an imports tariff and bring those jobs back home. That is really it, because there is no better social program that benefits people like a good job, a good paying job where they can make a decent living wage and that is really what I am proposing here and that is really what I am advocating.
Press TV: Mike Harris your final thoughts on the issue of privacy? Americans are not having the freedom they used to have. In 30 seconds or less tell us how much that has been affected in the United States?
Harris: Well, people are waking up. It is time that we realize we need a regime change in this country and we need to expel these professional Congressmen, professional Senators, who have never held an honest job in their lives…
We need a new management in this country, we need a new way of thinking, we need to become a sustainable economy. It is time for some fundamental, structural changes in how the US conducts business. And I agree with Ms. Gould that these illegal wars are out of hand and yes indeed Al Gore was robbed, George W. Bush stole that election and he should still be prosecuted for that crime and the supreme court of justice is culpable ; we should throw all of them out as well.
The people in this country have had enough of Shenanigans in Washington, it is time for a clean and honest government. We are …, we are sick, we are done, we are tired we want new a new management here.