07/20/2010 02:48 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Is National Opportunity Passing Us By?

How many of you are having trouble sleeping? I am and here's why. My neighbors and friends are suffering. I'm feeling it and it bothers me. I see families with young children short selling their dream homes. I see bright college graduates unable to find work. I see once proud hard working blue collar buddies going without. All around me the middle class, my people, are de-leveraging with the economy they were told would provide for them if they lived by the rules and worked hard. But these aren't numbers, these are human beings.

Official figures are hogwash, there are 20% of people in this country either unemployed or underemployed. Our standard of living is fading and our social stress is rising. The banking and finance system continues to run for cover lending less and less to increase our business base and preparing more and more to foreclose on the American Dream. And not even the designers of government programs meant to subsidize and encourage these institutions to stimulate an economic turnaround seem to be able to charm the fates to change course. Business, having no idea where things will go next, takes shelter also sitting on reserves that in better times would be spent on turning over revenue and winning market share.

Things are degrading so rapidly that the cost differential between making something abroad and stamping Made in USA is narrowing to a few cents.

Say what?

Yes indeed, while the gap still slightly favors outsourcing, with American expectations declining, foreign expectations growing, and the realities of shipping costs that gap has narrowed in 2010. So how come we aren't actively exploring what we can do with this strategic opening to revitalize our economy? Why isn't the government buzzing with innovation about designing ways to close or invert that gap and cause our industrial base to domesticate? At least enough of it to restore a better standard of living anyway. Why are corporations scouring the world looking for concentrations of skilled labor at reduced costs while ignoring this massive labor pool under their own noses? Why aren't there policy mechanisms coming online to dissuade this? How many American do you think would relish the chance to regain the self-respect of a steady job maybe taking less pay but possibly earning a sweat equity in their repatriated work places?

Surely debating the merits of a long term national investment strategy to increase domestic industry -- the single most leverage producing form of economic accelerator -- deserves more airtime in an election year. I mean it's not like the United States hasn't done this kind of stuff to bootstrap itself before. Why the defeatist malaise? All this "best and brightest" talent and we can't figure the obvious out? It's time to show some backbone already. Someone needs to belly up to the bar and lead the way to revitalize America's industrial engine and begin to repatriate industry as an aggressive policy of mobilization this nation deserves to have. One would think that every candidate should be weighing in on a topic this strategic to the national interest.

Actually once we start it shouldn't stop until we again achieve an overall standard of living that is the envy of the world. In my view nothing is more important to this country and to global peace and stability than dedicating ourselves to this important task. To put it bluntly we've demobilized too far from our apex in 1945. We need to retrace some of our missteps to regain a more appropriate vantage for our people.

How about the states? Shouldn't they also be refashioning themselves? Certainly some are. But others seem to be in shell shock. It certainly makes sense for hard hit states like California to be focusing on aggressively attracting business back to make it so its people can have a decent life again. So what the heck is wrong with overhauling the entire business and tax system to make it an attractive place to be when the alternative is economic collapse? California has been exporting industrial base for years like some sort of self-imposed Marshall Plan believing new industry was an unlimited renewable resource. Like that was ever true. So you'd think that a place that is seeing it's middle class transformed into the "formerly middle class" would get a clue at some point. The bliss of selfishness, that myopic luxury of plentiful times, has past and we ignore this reality at our collective peril. Does anyone reasonable really think this type of behavior will do anything except stretch social misery out for another decade?

If you think I'm picking on just the state I live in, substitute the name of the one you're in and a fair portion of the paragraph will still likely apply. My point is that there's a lot of America that needs to mobilize if we want to get out of the mess we are in. It has to happen on many levels. Pretending it's another part of the system's problem is silly. And all the while our neighbors and friends continue to suffer.

Feel like making a difference today? Think about asking your politician(s) to pay attention. Tell them it might affect how you vote in November.