Candidates can promise all the economic changes they want within their particular national bubble, but nothing will actually change without the blessing of the global market gods. So then, what's the solution?
Every recent political candidate around the globe who has been taken with any degree of seriousness by their respective electorate has made promises banking on the gullibility of voters when they have vowed to get the economy under control. A single politician can control the global economy about as effectively as someone can control the weather by holding an umbrella over their head. For that matter, it's laughable to claim that environmental laws in the United States have a significant impact on worldwide anti-pollution efforts when virtually the entire Third World is exempt and spewing pollutants freely.
Solutions to the current economic troubles will only come when politicians realize that they don't control the global economy -- it controls them. The larger forces will always win, even when confronted by gale-force political blowhardism. Arguably, economic forces on a global scale are the closest we might still come to an actual free market, if only because there is less regulation, more options, and considerably less ability to interfere and impose one's will or agenda across international lines than there is on a national scale.
The only politicians who will ever succeed in bringing economic improvement to their realm are those who vow not to fight natural market forces, but rather to work with them -- much like it's a mistake in judo to block an opponent's strike because it risks injury. The strategy should be to find a way to exploit the natural direction of any given force, whether positive or negative vis-à-vis one's own particular agenda.
In the current global economic crisis, this means maximizing market forces in your favor and making them your ally rather than hopelessly fighting against them. For example, foreign direct investments in stable overseas growth sectors in which Western companies already hold an interest create not only a bigger pie for everyone involved, but open a channel of market-driven influence that may extend to matters of national security and diplomacy -- and further economic opportunities.
In Europe, and specifically in the U.K. and France, factories are shutting down and relocating on a regular basis, despite leaders' promises to create jobs. With what? More spending of money government doesn't have? By relying on the good grace of wealth creators and leaders of industry who are increasingly choosing to pay taxes to the least fiscally punitive of the regimes with which they associate? The result of such illogical propositions is increased smash-and-grab socialism as panic reaches fever pitch.
Here are a few troubling trends that, thanks to blissful ignorance of any possibility of a self-correctional economic reckoning, are likely to greatly impact your life, regardless of who wins the American election or any other election on the planet:
-- Far too many people will consider civil service paper-shuffling to be the best possible career choice, despite the fact that they know going in that their employer is leveraged to the max and teetering on the brink.
-- Labor unions, which once served the honorable purpose of protecting workers' rights, will continue to parasitize their decrepit host employers to the point where the hosts will either flee or die, as any other put-upon creature in nature would.
-- Kids will continue to study basket weaving in college, then expect to walk into a $100,000-a-year job after sending out five resumes (and expecting all five employers to joust to the death over the basket weaver in question). Meanwhile, engineering jobs will go unfilled because basket weaving has no transferable skills that would, say, aid a passenger jet in achieving liftoff.
-- Government will spend millions developing cars no one wants to buy, inspired by their father-knows-best moralism and the confidence that comes from spending other people's money. Why not tinker with such alternatives in a market with the money and demand for it (as with Saudi Arabia's interest in solar plants) and make an actual profit for America?
For these examples and others, we can thank socialism. We need our elected officials not just to claim token opposition to it, but to actively counter it through steadfast, clear-minded leadership, understanding and harnessing the free-market forces that exist outside their nation's walls.