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How does the political-economic system affect the problems related to the American...

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tgirl2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:41 PM via web

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How does the political-economic system affect the problems related to the American economy and work?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 1, 2010 at 6:38 PM (Answer #1)

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In the most broad of senses, I think one could make the argument that the capitalist system in America creates a situation where individuals are no longer in control of money.  Instead, money controls them.  The drive of capitalist profit, coveted especially more during periods of contraction, creates a reality where jobs don't work for individuals.  Individuals work for their jobs.  People are no longer in control of money for money controls them.  Individual choice is impacted by money and, to a great extent, autonomy is limited in the face of material reality.  When Marx writes about a "commodity fetishism," where objects contain power over individuals, this might be where the economic reality of American capitalism impacts work and individual state of being.  Look at characters like Willy from Miller's "Death of a Salesman" or the salesmen from Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross."  In each of these dramas, a distinct statement about American economy and work is being made in regards to a capitalist system that values profit more than people, compelling individuals to become mere tools of its drive for economic wealth over anything else.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 1, 2010 at 3:26 AM (Answer #2)

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One major problem America's economy is currently facing is that in order to do things as cheaply as possible, many companies are hiring outside of the United States.  An example of this is the many customer service call centers based out of India.  It is legal for American companies to hire non-Americans when the work can be done remotely - and it saves the company a lot of money because they can pay these workers less than Americans would demand.

Another problem our economy faces is the number of goods we import at a much cheaper price than we can manufacture here in our country.  The existence of "sweat shops" is certainly not a thing of the past - even though they do not seem to be getting as much media attention as they were even a few years ago.  Again, due to mass consumerism (and stores which promote it, like Wal-Mart), our country seriously lacks jobs and hireability because of cheap labor happening overseas.

I don't actually think these problems will be solved by more government intervention, however.  It is really the consumer who drives the economy.  If the US wants to bolster its economy, especially buying and selling American products, we consumers have to stop settling for the cheaper versions and buy products that are made in the USA.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:50 PM (Answer #3)

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This is a matter of opinion...

I would say you can argue that the capitalist economic system that we have in the US tends to cause problems in which workers feel that their working conditions are bad and their pay is too low.

In our system, businesses are encouraged (maybe even required) to make their costs be as low as possible.  This will mean that they will want to provide the minimum possible wages and working conditions.  Anything else would (you can argue) make them less competitive.

Therefore, capitalist competition leads to a situation where workers are treated as badly as the businesses can get away with.

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