Imports, business and social classes.

Toxic dog food, poison toothpaste, lead-paint contaminated Barbie toys and now... inadequately packaged and, hence, nonfunctional condoms! Unregulated trade with China is bringing us continued stories of danger and dissatisfaction.

It seems like every week there is a new problem.

We are a country that once manufactured the finest products in the world. Our industrial laborers created a strong and vibrant middle class that assured the continuance of quality products by demanding the best.

At one point we lived in Main-Streeted towns across the country, where stores were owned by individual storekeepers and family business people who insisted on carrying good products and backed them with their reputation as local merchants of integrity. Hell, they made deliveries! (I learned to drive in my father's drug store delivery car - Dad figured that if I screwed up in my driving his customers would call him and let him know... Merchants and customers once had trusting relationships with each other!)

Middle class industrial workers and Main Street merchants sent their kids to college and passed on what we now refer to as "family values" - a phrase which now seems only to mean no gays, no abortions, no no social-equality. Oh, and "family values" seems limited to Christian Republic Party members.

Somewhere along the way, while our values were being sectored into right-wing neighborhoods, large corporations started to develop Malls and Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs and other Warehouse Stores that decimated the downtown merchants on the basis of penny-sized price points. Then, to keep the price points down came the search for cheaper labor, first driving manufacturing to non-union states (excuse me, "Right To Work States"), then down to Mexico and to places like Northern Ireland (I remember when Apple Computer moved manufacturing there some years ago), then Japan, then India and China. With every move, price points went down.

And quality, safety and integrity went down, too.

The Middle class people without stable manufacturing jobs, without the ability to maintain family businesses on Main Street (which was now pretty much abandoned as a business location anyway) became lower class workers at fast foot restaurants and warehouse stores. A few joined the upper classes and pushed more Corporate management and imports. But the middle became empty.

It's like a watermelon at the end of the season that has grown in the field too long. Most of the sweet, solid fruit in the center of the melon has turned into over-ripened mush. Tap the outside of the end-of-the-season melon and you hear a hollow thump.

And who is responsible for fixing this situation? The Government? Certainly not the current administration... they will insist on individuals taking responsibility for what they (and their country) have become.

And we go on.

Under The LobsterScope

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Back to Basics (and Justice) on Immigration

So yesterday the Senate restarted its negotiations on the controversial immigration reform legislation,(ginormous PDF) deciding by a slim margin (63-45) to keep the bill alive.

Get ready, folks.  We've got a bumpy ride ahead.  

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The Edwards Plan to Fight Predatory Lending

John Edwards released his plan today to fight predatory lending and help keep the middle class safe from losing their homes and savings.

What does his plan do?  More after the flip: leases/200700404-predatory-mortgages/

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How everyone can get smart on immigration & the middle class

As elected officials, candidates for office , advocates and bloggers are debating exactly how to best reform our immigration laws and let's face it- the discussion has at times been more reactive than educational Drum Major Institute for Public Policy is releasing "Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class: 2007 Edition" as a tool to encourage immigration reform that is progressive and has a positive impact on America's squeezed middle class.  I know there are some who use xenophobia as a faux-populist economic policy but the truth is that there are many American workers who have legitimate concerns about the impact of immigration on their livelihoods. That is what our report addresses and is highlighted in our middle class talking points.

The status quo on immigration is unacceptable. The middle class depends on the economic contributions of immigrants - including undocumented immigrants - yet the exploitation of undocumented workers threatens to drive down wages and erode working conditions for the current and aspiring middle class. The DMI report looks at how smart immigration reform could actually improve the economic situation of all workers in the U.S. if it focused on strengthening the workplace rights of immigrants: (from the report)

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Unions, Debt Relief, Health Care Efficiency - three ways to boost the middle class

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