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Over the past fifty years, US citizens obviously did not lose 50 million jobs–just 50 million good jobs. Americans accepted lower paying service jobs or part-time work to make up for their job losses. They could not get jobs as good as their former higher paying manufacturing jobs. Consequently, the overall spending power of Americans was reduced as was the American standard of living.
Nobody will argue that a master machinist in a plant commands a higher pay level than a garage lube tech. Yet a one-time master machinist can certainly handle a job as a lube tech after swallowing a big pay cut. Besides the money, when people hold jobs in their true professions they gain a lot more professional satisfaction than they would as a lube tech, a garbage man, a maintenance man, or a proverbial Walmart greeter. When the good jobs are gone, however; they are gone!
Today, companies that favor offshoring have not stopped their pillaging. When they finish taking manufacturing jobs, they plan to take more and more service sector jobs. The full rape of America is not yet finished. Things are scheduled to get worse not better, unless American companies begin to act American again.
It is difficult to find an authoritative source to support the number 50,000, although it has been widely quoted as the manufacturing job loss. It is thus the consensus number. Some corporations with tongue in cheek and some bad economists continue to blame Americans for the problem. There is a small amount of truth to the charge but the big culprits are the manufacturers who abandoned ship and who are now taking their engineering and service jobs with them.
During this time, politicians have been AWOL in their defense of America. Instead, they helped corporations to move jobs offshore, thinking with some perverse sense of logic that it would be good for America. They have not helped fight even the bogus excuses used by corporations that somehow Americans are not up to the task of holding good jobs anymore.
On the proactive side, our politicians brought forth no innovative training solutions for the American public to help compete with the supposedly higher skilled foreigners. For example they have not incented high school students or provided grants for manufacturing labs in schools with real materials, nor have they set the stage for contests for innovative approaches, fostered engineering and design with grants at universities, or provided federal guidance in any meaningful form.
Instead, politicians hide from the public on the issue of offshoring. Ask your representative why there are no apprenticeship programs in America today other than those in the trade unions? If manufacturing, as many of us believe is to be the backbone of a healthy economy, and a bright future, where is the beef? Why are our politicians AWOL on an issue of such importance?
Politicians from both parties from the federal and state governments must foster manufacturing as a career. We need world-class, innovative industries that compete in global markets. It is a shame that once loyal American companies would select any country other than the US any day of the week as a location to build a plant. They sure have stopped picking America for new jobs or even for the old standby jobs that were always done in America. Instead, in the last thirty to fifty years, they have taken entire industries, such as electronics and clothing manufacturing, from the US as they moved their operations overseas.
American corporations no longer favor the US as the place to set up shop, continue operations, and build their products. With this as a backdrop, it is no wonder that few argue the point that we have already become the first “post-industrial” nation on the globe. That’s what’s left when all the companies move out of town and then out of the country. Even high tech, an area that many experts admit was begun in the US has gone offshore. The NSF statistical arm writes that the US has shed 28 percent, or about 700,000 jobs—great tech jobs, after reaching a high peak of 2.5 million jobs in 2000. There are many more jobs to be lost. Why is this?
Because companies save money when they offshore! Consequently a good solution would be to reduce taxes for loyal domestic corporations and make it more costly for American Corporations to sell goods built overseas to America.
Americans are getting by from day to day though each day there is just a little less than there was yesterday. Over time, however, the impact of days with less accumulates, and eventually there is so little, times become especially tough. As an example of the decline in citizen wealth, for those who are from 35 to 45 years old, on the average, your net worth has been reduced by 56 percent in the last five years alone. So, the pain is very real.
I can remember a time when each day there was more and more. There was more of everything every day. While an American moves from a lost job to unemployment compensation (UC) to a new job, back to UC, and then finally swings back to a new job, the gross earnings at the end of such a painful journey are typically much less than the earnings when the journey began—even if the journey takes years.
Despite the setbacks most Americans are resilient and we are forgiving but we are at a point that we no longer want to be pushed around. Americans have not lost hope, though times are tough. The last four years have been the worst in most of our histories and there have been few fixes that work.
In the last two years of the Bush Administration, the American people elected a completely Democratic Congress run by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi was so thrilled at the time she proclaimed that she had “shattered the marble ceiling.” At the time at the beginning of 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.6% and the economic outlook was bright. Gas prices were at $2.11 but soon they were over $4.00 a gallon. In short order, the unemployment rate shot to 10%; now it is over 8%. At this level, Americans do not believe the recession is over. The real unemployment rate is about 17% today and almost 50 million Americans are on Food Stamps. No wonder there is so much misery in America. Foreigners in America and overseas have all the jobs and the situation is not improving. Even if reindustrialization takes ten years or more it is worth starting. Meanwhile, if we could only figure out how to get back to how things were in early 2007 before the Pelosi and Obama years.
America is slipping into a post-industrial world while our government is concentrating on splitting each dime that you earn to be able to give the other half to Joe down the street. The country is more concerned about dividing the earnings of the few who work among those that do not work, rather than giving businesses incentives to produce their goods in America. The founders believed that if you can earn a dime today, you can earn two dimes tomorrow.
In colonial days and shortly thereafter, government did have a role in protecting the industry of the home country. It used a system of tariffs so that goods produced at home were cheaper than goods that were imported from foreign countries. Progressive regimes from Wilson onward took away this protection and then in the name of free-trade, a code term for “America comes last,” they helped corporations move their businesses overseas. It seems that nobody realized the blight that offshoring was causing in the US and so nobody argued that it must be stopped. This will surely be a dilemma that historians will grapple with for years. Even today, there are no great proponents of protectionism. All of the Presidential candidates in the Republican Primary were free-traders and so is Barack Obama.
We must change their minds. Free trade means offshoring jobs and this surely hurts America and it hurts Americans. Reindustrialization is the only real answer to this plague on American industry.
While things are not going well for Americans, the big concern among American watchers is how quickly our country is deteriorating. Prosperity is no longer expected as we round the corner and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is much dimmer and more difficult to see. America was once the center of the industrial revolution. The US was the top dog in automobiles, televisions, airplanes, and even railroad technology for years. The US was so good in manufacturing that it was our ability to make things that that crushed Germany in World War I. Then our industrial might, though somewhat weakened by the Great Depression, crushed Germany and Japan in World War II.”
Are we all to be duped into believing the country that could send a man to the moon can make nothing today? The one-time technology leader in the world became great because of American mettle and ingenuity, and because government stayed out of the way. Thus opportunities for innovation were realized thereby enabling private industry to succeed and make a good profit. With industry success, came a lot of good jobs. Even when there was no technology, America was once able to make anything better than anybody else in the world. And, we grew powerful and successful because of that.
In a nutshell, our corporate leaders and our government leaders stopped caring as much about America and Americans as their own interests. It is that simple. Meanwhile most Americans have been lulled into believing it is partly our fault that things are so bad. When we lose our jobs, we take it personally; we don’t blame the rest of the world or corporations or our government. Yet, it is time that we did.
Corporations are the masters of spin and government helps them turn lies into reality. For example, businesses have no incentive to publicize the number of employees’ jobs that they have offshored. That is because US citizens are customers and we may choose not to buy their products if we believe they are not treating America right.
We should not buy the products of American companies that hurt America. We should stop blaming ourselves for our country’s problems. Our only blame is that we trusted our politicians and we trusted that big business would have our best interests at heart if we gave them all we had in the workplace. It is high time to cast those two myths aside and get back to the notion of rugged individualism that helped make the country great. Do not trust cowards and scoundrels. Trust yourself and your neighbors and together we can fix what ails America.
Today, corporations quietly continue to move manufacturing jobs overseas while placing knowledge worker positions and white collar jobs in the on-deck circle for the next big wave. IBM, for example for years has been shipping thousands of engineering, software development and information technology jobs overseas to “reduce costs,” and there appears to be no end in sight. Apple has done the same. Wages in the countries getting the jobs are 80% to 90% lower than the American wage.
Foreign nationals on special work visas fill some positions in America at reduced wages, but most jobs are simply contracted out overseas. Those studying the matter suggest that it is inevitable and millions more jobs are on their way out of the country. Soon job training centers in America will require equipment with the latest in fast-food grille technology because those jobs are certainly staying home. A recently fired software programmer calls it as he sees it: “If you sit at a desk, beware,” he said. “Your job is going overseas.” That says it well but as Americans we cannot permit it.
It is true that most American corporations are run by American citizens. Yet, to these elitist citizens, the corporation comes first. The fact that the corporation itself is a fictitious citizen of the US has not stopped most corporations from doing what they “must,” regardless of the impact on the strength of this country or the devastating impact on former employees who were once loyal to the corporation while gainfully employed.
We would expect corporations to be selfish, but, from the founders’ philosophy, we would not expect our representatives to be in cahoots with corporations at the expense of the represented. Yet, they are, and that is why the US has been permitted to falter, and that is why we are borrowing money from countries that once shined our shoes.
Our Congressional and Senatorial representatives not only observed it happening, they helped cause the weakening of our country. The long term cure begins with a big kick to get all the bad apples out of Washington and we then can start over. The only way the cure can happen is if all Americans take stock in themselves and stop voting with their stomachs and instead vote by using their brains. Politicians love to take a few local jobs that they control and give them to loyal voters so that the voters will be duped into letting them back at the treasury again. No matter what they offer, do not take it, and do not vote them back in. When I ran for Congress in 2010, some of my neighbors told me they could not put my signs in their yards for fear the incumbent would see the signs and take action to hurt their kids’ chances or their own chances for some political patronage, which they felt they needed. We must be better than that to have a better country.
While our country began to reach a point where its demise was certain, there were some huge “American” companies that helped put some big nails in the US coffin. Their acts are so egregious that we mention them again. These companies care an awful lot more about profits than they do about America. Their lack of concern for US helped push us all off the economic cliff. IBM and Apple are the two big ones that come to mind, though their internal policies would never permit regular Americans to know just how anti-American they both are regarding what were once fine American jobs. As an ex IBMer, and a techno-geek at heart, I know this to be true. Where would IBM with its huge i-logoed products and Apple with its small i-logoed products be without American purchasers. Americans not only think their products are nifty enough to buy, but they think the companies would be grateful enough to stay American. Unfortunately, both chose to squeeze the world for a few more dollars and they squeezed out the loyal employees that made their products successful. What a shame.
These two companies have been in the news lately as a few of the groundbreaking companies that learned that they could add a billion or two to their profit picture by giving up on America and Americans. They do still expect Americans to buy their products, which are now imported from many countries, but mostly China. These companies could not resist taking the profits plunge and they did so with no regrets. They even brag that they will not be back operating in America any time soon because it is too tough doing business here. Of course, we can make them come back, and how we do that is the thesis of Part II of this article. Basically, if they want to sell any products in the US in the future, they will be back.
That’s what reindustrialization is all about and that is what neo-mercantilism is all about. When the company is not nice to the country, the country gets to put a nice tariff on the company’s goods when they try to sell goods back to the home country—the USA in our case. Such companies will be clamoring to get back to the USA as their domestic competitors will not be paying any import fees for goods manufactured in America while they will be paying through the roof. Americans control the American government so if we do the right thing and bring in a crop of the correct (right) representatives, government should work OK for all of US.
Have you ever stopped to think what it would take to make America successful again? Surely, reindustrialization would be on your list if you gave it some thought. The notion that we do not have to make anything and that we can survive without making anything is absurd. If our traditional American manufacturers have decided that America is not for them, then we the people need to give them incentives to set up shop again in the US. But, as free-will citizens, that is up to them. So, we must hedge our bets by inviting their foreign competitors in to America to make the same or similar products and we can assure that their products will be less expensive than the imports from the American corporate plants overseas.
You should not care and I do not care if foreign corporations choose to be more loyal to America than American corporations. I am for America first and all-others second. My dollars will vote for the products made in America by whomever, and I hope everybody else will do the same. Why do I feel this way? It is because Americans will be building those products. American jobs will be the source of labor for the products that we call American. I think that is just fine. It is about time. If American corporations want to abandon America, I have no problem at all abandoning American corporations. I am for America. How about you?
Either way, the US needs a good manufacturing industry base to maintain our status in the world. Substantially lower corporate taxes for domestic producers and tariffs on imported goods from American corporations manufactured overseas should help us with our deficit and debt problem. Better than that, it will help us with our jobs problem while we see plants and clean smokestacks being built and coming online all over the country. Wouldn’t it be nice to have new factories built by foreign firms that create jobs for Americans in America? Bravo! Let Apple and IBM choose to live in China. See how well they do without the protection of the American economy.
Dr. Robert Owens is concerned that if we decided to make America a manufacturing country again, it would be tough to do. I agree but it is imperative that we begin now. His article is titled: “How Do We Re-Industrialize America,” and his writings can be found at http://drrobertowens.com/2011/10/07/how-do-we-re-industrialize-america/
Owens notes that manufacturing in America hit its peak in 1979. At the time, about 19.5 million Americans were engaged to produce durable goods. Unfortunately for America and Americans, in the last 30 years or so, manufacturing has declined by 40% if not more. With this record, you could imagine how substantial the job loss has been. Statistics clearly show that over 6 million jobs have been lost just since 2000.
Now, here we sit in what many call the Great Recession, and during this time, the US has been losing as many as 90,000 manufacturing jobs every month. This statistic is so startling that nobody says, “So what!.” Nobody has figured out yet how to plug the hole in the dike. Clearly, we are not doing very well at all as a nation in manufacturing, especially in the last three to four years. The worst news is that there are few signs that anything is getting better.
How do we re-industrialize America? How do we get back all the jobs that have been exported in the last 30 or more years? Many politicians and pundits, even those on the conservative side are concerned enough to ask: “If we knew what to do, what would the consequences be of taking the bold steps necessary to make America once again the engine that drives the world’s economy?” A subsequent but necessary question is: “What will be the result of failing to do so?” I do not mean to simplify something that is complex but the big answer to all these questions is that we begin immediately to reindustrialize the US. The RRR plan is a prescription guaranteed to work. We have no other guarantees. Type RRR and conservative action alerts in your browser to learn more about this plan.
In Part II of this article, we describe in detail what America needs to do to be successful in manufacturing. Reindustrialization is achievable and it is vital that we do what we need to do to bring back industry to the US. In Part II we go through a mechanism known as neo-mercantilism and just like the guy from Men’s Warehouse, I guarantee that you are going to like how you look in a new America that rules the world in industry. I hope to see you in Part II as soon as you can get there!
About Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly is a business owner and former assistant professor at Marywood University; he and his wife, Pat live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Kelly ran for COngress and for the US Senate in his state and he believes limited government brings liberty and freedom. Brian's 48th book is titled, Saving America, The How-To Book. It is available at www.checkoutking.com and www.itjungle.com.