A recent news report made this observation about the Greek financial situation: “… something frighteningly concrete is underway in Greece: the dismantling of a middle-class welfare state in real time – with nothing to replace it.” It is a situation that is both similar to and very different from that in the U.S. today.
What’s the similarity? The American middle class labor economy has come to an end. Global competition has destroyed the ability of manufacturing, textile, transportation and other workers to build respectable middle class lives on the strength of strong backs, hard work and grit.
No one – least of all me – takes any joy in making such a statement. But, better to utter the truth than to let wishful thinking mislead and ultimately harm people.
Unlike in Greece, however, there is something to replace that defunct middle class labor economy. That’s what different about the U.S. of A.. We have the opportunity to establish a middle class talent economy.
How? We have to replace strong back with strong minds; we have to substitute innovation and creativity for hard work and grit.
That’s no small adjustment, I admit, but I’m optimistic. Why? Because, unlike what our school system teaches kids, I believe every human being is gifted and talented. We have all been endowed with the capacity for excellence.
If we apply that capacity on the manufacturing line and in the delivery of services, we will beat our rivals in China, Korea, India and Germany. Not with lower labor costs but with more ingenuity and better ideas. Not with more sweat, but with keener thinking.
What’s going on in Greece today is a tragedy. What’s unfolding in this country is a dream, the American Dream. All we need do is realize it.
Note: To read more about Career Fitness and Career Activism, get my books, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System and The Career Activist Republic. Both are available at Amazon.com, in many bookstores and on Weddles.com.
Look for my new book, A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, due out next spring.