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Step Out of Line America: A Need for Action & Middle Class Paradigm Changes in the New American Economy

My name is Josh Miller; I’m a blue-collar worker during the day and an independent filmmaker at night. My passion lies with the “Made in America” movement. Many of you know me as the “Made in USA Guy” and are aware of my documentary film, “Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey” now available on iTunes if I may add. All American Clothing Co. has kindly invited me to provide a blog post each month to their website, which I gladly accepted. I also thought this would make a good LinkedIn post as well. I’ve got plenty on my mind to share, so here goes the first post.

I travel a considerable distance to and from work every day, which gives me quite some time to think about the future. Every morning my mind drifts to thoughts of how my wife and I are going to survive fiscally. We live paycheck to paycheck like most Americans in the new American economy. I glance at my wife’s belly (a little over eight months pregnant), and I’m scared to death and excited at the same time. The scared to death part reaches deep into my parental instinct to ensure I can protect and provide for my child. I’m also excited to see a combination of myself and my wife’s personality and attributes rolled up into another human being, you find it so hard to believe that the creation of another human being is possible. Protection mode kicks in and you feel like doing less talking and more walking.

Pursuing the American Dream Isn't as Clear Cut as it Once Was

step out of line americaThis extra energy I’ve felt over the past several months has helped me push myself looking for new opportunities. However, I’ve questioned the very thing we all pursue, the American Dream. First, I think we must define what that means present day. I followed what the education system and society told me to do. Pick out what area you want to study when you’re young, pick a major in college, and know what it is you wish to do with your life. I went through that whole process and fell in line. The only thing that saved me from crushing college debt was the fact that I was a pretty good baseball player, 1st Team All-American outfielder. I don’t speak much about my accomplishments, but working my butt off since I was a little boy playing America’s game, I thought I would give myself a pat on the back. Anyways, I went on and received a Master’s Degree, and I’m now creeping in on 30 years old, I still do what I can just to get by, even thinking about taking on additional side jobs for extra income, I'm not ashamed to admit many weeks my wife and I are "in the red", and find it more and more difficult to save money. Get an education, work hard, and the American Dream can be yours they said. In my case, that advice seems the furthest from the truth. I'm not ungrateful, I have a stable job that pays the bills, but I continue to ask myself if "getting by" is the way I want to live. I feel that's what got America into the trouble in the first place. There is nothing wrong with falling in line, we all have to do it (face realities) at some point in our lives, there is no shame in that, but we have to understand that life is a big chess game and you have to decide when to make a move, I could leave my pieces in place and survive, but I guess it depends on how you want to play or how far out of line you wish to step. My vision of the American Dream requires stepping out of line and playing the game.

The New Pursuit of the American Dream is Stepping out of Line of the Path we are Told to Go Down

We must face the reality that momentum is certainly not on the side of the American worker at the moment and is not in favor of the American entrepreneur unless you’re willing to manufacture overseas. If you question insane corporate profits (from offshoring) and declare that workers are getting screwed, you get labeled as a socialist or communist, take your pick I guess. Globalization has opened up America to new markets, but globalization has also crippled American manufacturing because Congress and the White House decided that “making things” isn’t a priority for this country, our "free trade" agreements can back up that assumption I'm making. I hear the political rhetoric about “Made in America” all the time during election season, it’s a great crowd pleaser, but at the end of the day is just an empty promise. It may not be in my lifetime, but one day the American people will figure out that they are the butt of a big economic joke. We have spent trillions protecting our physical security as a nation (rightfully so), but at some point we’re going to have to make a stand on our economic security or suffer the consequences. One-way trade agreements and outdated tax code continue to erode the middle class and, in the long run, will destroy American companies. How can you expect a consumer economy to survive that can’t even put food on the table for their families? We’ve quickly forgotten what built our nation.

Partisanship & Inaction Lead to Economic Fragility and Hampers American Confidence

The unemployment rate has improved, but I’m not convinced that the America of old has returned, I still believe our economy is very fragile. I’m disturbed with both sides of the aisle right now, and yes both parties should accept blame. Does Washington really care about what happens to our creators, innovators, and workers? I screened my documentary film in Washington DC, within walking distance of the Capitol, and not one Congressional leader or Congressional aide showed up for the screening, don't even get me started on the White House. The first step, to solving a problem, is admitting that there is one, and I don’t think we’re ready to accept that we’ve fallen behind and are no longer leading the way in this world. I think it’s time we admit that America is at an economic crossroad and searching for an identity in this new world. For the first time in my lifetime, I see America looking to what the rest of the world is doing, but I say our founders didn’t fight and die for our independence just to watch us become like the remainder of the world only a couple centuries later. We must get that pride back. The problem is we must decide what type of country we want to be. I think over time we (Americans) have just accepted the status quo and hoped things would get better. Somehow, the issues with our country should solve themselves, right? We don’t vote, we don’t question/challenge, and we don’t seem to care much about anything except for what the next hit TV reality show will be or what the next iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphone will look like. I don’t say this to be offensive, I say this as a wake-up call in which I’m including myself.

Stepping Out of Line is Risky, but The Rewards are Innovation and Progress

step out of line america josh miller

The answer to our problems? I wish I could take you step by step toward the future with a better outlook, but if we’re to do our republic any justice we must let our people make that decision as it was intended. We have the power and the influence to turn the tides in our favor again and still be able to take part in world affairs. I told you there was nothing wrong with falling in line, but honestly, the few times I felt I’ve made progress in my life was when I took a chance and jumped from the line. I remember when people smirked at me when I told them I was going to produce a documentary film without prior film experience. The same individuals that smirked at me, later presented me with ideas for new projects and wanted to get involved in my future endeavors. I don’t say that in spite or with sarcasm, it has just helped me develop two certainties in life: (1) success changes minds and (2) at some point in your life breaking out of that line gives you fresh air and new perspectives which may lead to future success. Just a note, success is never guaranteed. Life is full of calculated risks, but you’re smarter and more adaptable than you give yourself credit.

With that said, I’m prepared to jump out of line and make a move on the chess board in 2015 and decide whether I’ll make a run for Congress in the next election cycle in my home state of West Virginia. My option is the 2nd Congressional District of West Virginia. I could go my whole life talking to you about “Made in America” and blogging about securing America’s economic future, or I could put my words into action and find out how important YOU think these issues are to our future. America must be what WE wish it to become, or we’ll become what the rest of the world wants us to be.

“I have always thought the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” – John Locke

You can check out our website and documentary film at http://www.usa30days.com

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Josh Miller
Josh Miller
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  • Bill Alrich

    Hi Josh –
    A very well-written statement of the problem we all face. Rising productivity allows us to improve our standards of living but, by definition, causes wealth to concentrate at the top. Power follows money. As a result, both parties promote policies which accelerate the trends you mention. Many economists (like Dean Baker) write about this but they’re usually ignored.
    Please put me on your mailing list if you decide to make the run.
    Best wishes, Bill

  • Chuck Intrieri

    Great article. I agree: America must be what WE wish it to become, or we’ll become what the rest of the world wants us to be.

    “I have always thought the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” – John Locke

  • Bobby Rodgers

    Great article, I to agree things have gone wrong in America, both political parties have given into their own greed. Each one promise ask Americans to except their way of life, but nether ask Americans to have what they get. A better health care at cheaper prices, a retirement that doesn’t take 30 years to get and now not even 30 years it’s more like 65 years old, but before I can reach that age they will change it to 70. See the middle case is paid for their bodies, and as a society we believe the politicians are there to help us change that. The only thing that gets changed in an election is the faces, then these new faces find out it pays better to play in the game then change it. That is what made in America means now.

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