A trio of governors and a duo of lieutenant governors last week dined on pink slime burgers and pronounced them mouth-wateringly-delicious-and-nutritious as TV cameras rolled on their barbeque in a Nebraska factory that manufactures the stuff.
Shoppers have reacted somewhat differently to pink slime secreted into their hamburger, so much so that three national supermarket chains stopped using it, and an Iowa grocer now offers both slimed and unslimed burger.
The politicians insisted that identifying slimed beef is not necessary, or even wise, because the fabricated-sans-fat- smashed-meat-scraps-seasoned-with-ammonia mixture is more nutritious. It’s so great that announcing its presence on the burger label is unnecessary, the politicians insisted.
The governors and lieutenant governors chose to champion not consumers but slime producers. The reason is obvious. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who organized the slime plant tour and barbeque, got $150,000 in campaign contributions in 2010 from the factory’s founders. Rather than rally to the public, too many politicians prostitute themselves to corporations. Thus, American workers have a government that incongruously rewards corporations that ship jobs overseas. Somewhere the government of the people, by the people, for the people got lost.
Just as in the case of pink slime, the interests of flesh-and-blood people and corporations frequently conflict. In those instances, a government of the people, by the people, for the people should take their side. But a government run by politicians constantly hounding corporate campaign contributions often fails to favor flesh-and-blood people.
Professor, researcher, writer and mathematician Ralph Gomory discussed this problem last week at the Second Annual Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing, held in Washington, D.C. Many speakers before him recommended recharging manufacturing with fixes like tax breaks, improved technical education and cheaper energy. These, Gomory argued, are no more than tinkering around the edges.
Real solutions exist, he said. There is, for example, billionaire Warren Buffett’s proposal to eliminate the nation’s massive trade deficit and promote domestic manufacturing with certificates that would limit imports to the level of exports.
“Why are these not even seriously discussed?” Gomory asked, then answered:
“That is because the we is not clear. Who is the we of the United States?”
What should be we the people operates as if it were we the corporations. Gomory said: (more…)