The crooked spine of American industry has spent the past few decades sucking down the middle class – the backbone of the U.S. economy – into a cesspool of downtrodden and financial destitution. Yet, there’s increasing evidence that with the legalization of cannabis, the country could, once again, employee a lucrative workforce and resurrect the corpse of the American dream.
It’s absolutely crucial for the stability of the American economy to have a thriving middle class, one which isn’t only strong, but continues to grow. Consumer spending is the lifeblood of the tried-and-true capitalistic concept; it’s responsible for 70 percent of the national nut. Therefore, if the middle class is not earning enough cheddar, bread or scratch to purchase items such as new cars, appliances and televisions, the fiscal climate across the entire nation gets locked into a vicious cycle that hinders prosperity for all.
Unfortunately, this is the compromising position we are now experiencing in the United States; the middle class is slumped over a rusty rail due to the crippling of the manufacturing industry, with many companies relocating key facilities to distant lands in an effort to cut production costs. Other businesses have simply employed the use of machines to thicken the bottom line.
After reading in “USA Today” that Ford Motor Company was pulling the plug on some of its manufacturing operations in Michigan and moving them to Mexico in 2018, it became apparent to me that marijuana is the one industry that pulls jobs out of Mexico and gives them to American workers. After reading the story, I was convinced, more than ever, that robots and foreign labor were undoubtedly snuffing out the average blue-collar job, perhaps eliminating these positions altogether within the next several decades. Of course, this is a rather frightening concept to consider, especially when there is no research that suggests a decline in a middle class workforce. Yet, self-checkouts, online shopping and automated systems threaten to disable the financial function of our nation’s most important job creator – the consumer, the majority of which is the middle class worker. See the problem?
As long as the middle class cannot afford to spend discretionary income, which is impossible while unemployed or stuck in a job earning less than a living wage, companies are destined to downsize and wages will become stagnant – breathing more life into income inequality. As for the wealthy, they are basically powerless to this phenomenon because CEOs and presidents of major corporations are not limited to how much they can buy. For example: A single man earning $30 million per year technically needs only one car, just the same as the man making $30,000. Although the wealthy individual can and likely will drive the best model, it is still results in only one vehicle being sold. This scenario is true for any product.
This conundrum got me to thinking that it won’t be long before the U.S. is forced to consider a more agricultural approach to not only salvaging what is left of the middle class, but also building it back up to the vibrant beast it once was.
Even if I was not a dedicated supporter of marijuana legalization, after seeing some of the recent sales data coming out of Colorado and Washington, I’d be a fool not to at least consider that cannabis has the potential to help re-establish the middle class, and in turn, put the nation back on track to making the working population a more comfortable society.
Financial experts predict that if prohibition were repealed today, the national cannabis market could reach $35 billion by 2020. Of course, this analysis is based on sales data from only two legal states and does not speculate the additional revenue that could be generated outside the realm of the dispensary once cannabis and hemp cultivation goes national. These figures indicate a nationwide cannabis industry would, indeed, be a major player in the U.S. economy, contributing an estimated $10 billion in wages through the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs – potentially even millions.
Not unlike the alcoholic beverage industry, the unionization of cannabis workers, which seems likely to happen on the national scale, would create bargaining leverage for the middle class by making sure companies provide fair wages and benefits. Some economists believe the decline of labor unions caused blue-collar wages to plateau in the 1970s, so by embracing worker solidarity within the pot trade, it seems possible this would assist in re-instilling the principles of the blue-collar worker and set these people up in the type of long-term employment that the middle class once relied on decades ago.
Cannabis legalization would bring about the revitalization of the American farmer and open up the United States to the next industrial revolution. Cannabis and hemp would undoubtedly bring about a wealth of new jobs, both directly and indirectly associated with the production of this commodity, while also saving federal and local governments millions of dollars in law enforcement and prison spending.
As with the outcome of every major American conflict from World War II to Vietnam, ending the War on Weed would create a boon to the economy that would stimulate the middle class for many years to come – at least until large corporations figure out a way to screw it up.
Do you think cannabis could help the middle class and the U.S. economy? Tell us your opinion in the comments.