Skip to comments.An index of American decline
Posted on 02/23/2004 12:11:31 AM PST by ETERNAL WARMING
An index of American decline
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Posted: February 23, 2004 1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Sen. John Edwards did not win Wisconsin, but he closed a huge gap with John Kerry with astonishing speed in the final week.
The issue propelling Edwards was jobs, the lost jobs under George Bush, and Edwards' attribution of blame for the losses on NAFTA and the trade deals for which John Kerry voted in Congress.
Edwards has plugged into an issue that could cost Bush his presidency. Indeed, Kerry's sudden conversion into fiery critic of trade deals for which he himself voted suggests that he senses not only his vulnerability on Super Tuesday, but his opportunity in the fall.
For a precise measure of what this issue is about, one can do no better than to consult Charles McMillion of MGB Services here. Each February, McMillion methodically pulls together from the Bureau of Labor Statistics his grim annual index of the decline and fall of the greatest industrial republic the world had ever seen.
Since Bush's inauguration, 2.8 million U.S. manufacturing jobs have simply vanished. By industry, the job losses are heaviest in computers, where 28 percent of all the manufacturing jobs that existed when Bush took office are gone, semiconductors where we have lost 37 percent, and communications equipment, where jobs losses have reached 39 percent in just three years.
One in three textile and apparel jobs has disappeared, and the losses continue to run at the rate of 100,000 jobs a year. This helps to explain Edwards' rout of Kerry in South Carolina.
With the markets soaring, the Bush recovery is being called a jobless recovery. Not so. We are creating millions of jobs overseas even as we are destroying manufacturing jobs at a rate of 77,000 per month in the United States.
Consider. Last year, we bought $958 billion worth of foreign manufactures and our trade deficit in manufactures alone was over $400 billion, more than $1 billion a day. Millions of foreign workers now labor in plants that manufacture for America, doing jobs that used to be done by American workers.
Not so long ago, Detroit was the auto capital of the world and the United States was the first nation in the production of televisions.
Now we don't make televisions any more. And our trade deficits in cars, trucks, televisions, video cassette recorders, automatic data-processing equipment and office machines added up last year to $218 billion. We retain a trade surplus in airplanes and airplane parts, but, because of the competition from Airbus, that is shrinking.
After airplanes, our No. 1 export in terms of a trade surplus is ... soybeans. Corn is next, followed by wheat, animal feeds, cotton, meat, metal ore, scrap, gold, hides and skins, pulp and waste paper, cigarettes, mineral fuels, rice, printed materials, coal, tobacco, crude fertilizer and glass. Airplanes aside, the United States has the export profile of an agricultural colony.
Our largest trade deficit with any country is with China. It has rocketed from $22 billion in Clinton's first year to $124 billion last year. "The World's Most Unequal Trade Relationship" is how McMillion describes it.
What were our best-selling items to China, where we ran a $2.8 billion surplus? Oil seeds and soybeans. What was China's biggest selling items to us? Computers and electrical machinery and equipment, where Beijing ran surpluses at our expense of $50 billion.
There are bright spots, however, in the bleak jobs picture painted by McMillion. State and local governments added 600,000 workers in three years. Some 21.5 million of us now work for state, local and federal governments one in six Americans, 7 million more workers than we have employed in all of manufacturing.
Perhaps this is what the Weekly Standard is bragging about when it celebrates Bush's "Big Government Conservatism."
To read these numbers is to understand the breach that has opened up in a conservative movement last united when Ronald Reagan went home to California.
To neoconservatives of the Wall Street Journal school, these trade numbers are yardsticks of their success at creating a Global Economy and measures of their triumph in championing NAFTA, the WTO and MFN for Beijing. To the Old Right, however, manufacturing was a critical component of American power, indispensable to our sovereignty and independence, and the access road for working Americans into the middle class.
Seeing the devastation of NAFTA and its progeny, sensing rising opportunity in the industrial Midwest, Democrats are jumping ship on free trade. Bush, if he does not temper his enthusiasm for these one-sided trade deals, may just go down with it. If he does, one prays he will at least ensure the neoconservatives have first been locked securely in the cargo hold.
This reads like a manifest from the 1700's instead of 2004.
I would like to thank the free traitors for their willingness to subsidize our standard of living, as well as our burdensome regulations, even as their investments cheapen in the global marketplace. Such generosity should be rewarded, and probably will be, by a decline in the living standard of this country that has never happened in the history of our country.
Phyllis is wrong.
The worst part about our demise is like being told you don't have much time to live. Anyone with an internet hook-up, and an IQ exceeding two digits, can access world information sources not screened by our 'free press'. From that knowledge one can only be frustrated in watching America being led down the garden path - blind to the fact it leads to quicksand.
It's difficult dealing with the awareness that I can do nothing about passing on to my son the America of my father's generation. Worst - our debt will have my son's children paying for the sins of the pretenders and traitors that have been elected during my lifetime.
Here in California we're being asked to float a bond issue of $15,000,000,000.00 ( that's fifteen billion dollars for you government school types ) for bonds coming due this summer. Has the state, regional or local governments laid off those on the government employment gravy train? No.
Instead they're cutting back on police and fire protection, as in Oakland ( the murder capital of the world ), where surrounding police agencies have been invited in to fill the gaps where Oakland police layoffs have been made.
This is not the country I was born into. My dad's generation would be down city hall with a rope in his day. Today's citizens don't have a clue about what is going on, and could care less as a result of the media's collusion with the slugs in power.
I guess FairOpinion, Consort, Dane and TWS won't dare to respond to the content of the article. The easiest way around it is to attack the author. Label him a Kerry supporter. That should do it.
I pity those who know the danger, and insist on silence. Rather, they should be demanding President Bush tell America what he will do to provide protection and incentives to reinvigorate American manufacturing and small business. But that would be contrary to the pie-in-the-sky NWO big boys our politicians are falling all over themselves to impress.
I realize the election is eight months away, and a lot can happen to reverse present trends - with politicians being the kind of spineless bottom dwellers they are. It's just that I'd hate to see marxists democrats beat GW to the punch about the unfair trading policies crippling our country.
When, if ever, will GW take control of this election? The Bush trait of going slow ( remember "it wouldn't be prudent"?), and letting the other political slug decide which issues America wants addressed has got to end, NOW!!!
Are the active FR political types taking the time to inform the president about America's problems? Are they getting feedback? Do the rungs at the top of a ladder give a twit about the rungs at the bottom of the ladder? How is one to know? Is the article false? If so, why doesn't America hear a response to truthfully contradict the content of the article?
Put differently, should you have confidence in a bank that loans more money than it has on deposit? If that doesn't bother you, would you still be motivated to give your money to a bank that has given over control of its assets to a third party having limited attachment to the community in which the bank is located?
This is the kind of relationship America has with the privately held Federal Reserve System - thanks to Congress, the 'executive' branch, and the judicial system.
IMHO, our world record debt will sink us faster than the Titanic, just as soon as we don't serve the ends of the money changers of the Federal Reserve. As Ross Perot was want to say, "you can hear the big sucking sound...." of our economic foundation being broken apart from under us.
Who cares? The real question is, who knows? What have the dominant parties done to educate America about our dangerously precarious economic and financial position? Nothing!!!
In 1960 I attended a politial party in San Francisco. Notice was taken of one guy who was making a lot of noise showboating himself. I asked who he was, and was told he was a newly elected Assemblyman. His name was Willie Brown.
From where I stand that guy personifies California politics. Image is the game and power buys that. Like Jesse Unruh is famous for saying, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." Life is a free lunch, prefered parking, and any perks they can vote or take for themselves. Rome's burning. The politicals know it, and but for a few, they're all intentionally looking the other way.
A land of opportunity. For whom? In the present scheme of things it's only true for American politicians who are looking and acting more and more like their scumbucket brothers south of the border.
That author(Buchanan) attacks himself with his incessant fatalism. Same political trait as todays democrats.
Holy crap, the sky is falling!
This is such a great topic because it really can show just how far apart from each other that conservatives can be. The same players in here, of course, have pummeled the outsource horse, for quite some time. I've been trying, unsuccessfully I might add, to argue in favor of outsourcing in the hopes that someone formerly opposed would see the good in it.
The "spreading of capitalism thereby fostering foreign stability which, theoretically would lead to better national security" argument did not resonate with anyone on the opposite side of the argument. In fact, it lead to discussions about OPIC, burger flipping jobs, American standard of living decrease, 12 cent a day workers in repressed countries, etcetera.
Last night I came up with the one question to ask that might just disarm people. It's a simple "or" question that is designed to press you on the protectionist side that you take. "Or" questions can suck because they can box you in to taking a stand on a position and the questions are never really fairly asked. But I think this question is asked fairly and I'm sure that you
wont will agree.
Now I already know that many of you will not take the bait on this, or you'll bring up a third, forth, or fifth scenario. Or, you'll bring up something as off topic as municipal bond issuing and city planners "giving away the farm" to business. Or, you'll complain about competition reducing jobs that are already established. Or, something else that is sure to be entertaining to read, all in an effort to duck the "outsource" question. Anyway, I hope this is as engaging as I think it's going to be.
Here's the hypothetical scenario [yes - don't you just love those]:
A few wealthy entrepreneurs from India get together and decide the want to begin manufacturing cars. Since the market for automobiles is smokin' in America, they decide that they will start manufacturing Sport Utility Vehicles in the United States to save on shipping costs and to tap into the productivity and skill of the American worker. If they can somehow grab a foothold into our market they think that their SUVs can sell. They also believe that American employees at their plant and dealerships might be encouraged to purchase the vehicles that they help bring to market. Anyhow, this group of Indian entrepreneurs wants to build a plant in the town that you live in.
So here's the question:
Some younger member of your immediate or extended family - someone that you care about very deeply - has just been offered a very well compensating job at this Indian owned SUV plant. They just received the word that they were among the chosen from a strong pool of candidates. They are very eager to tell you about it. What is your reaction?
Do you stick to your principles and decry [in my opinion wrongly] that outsourcing is bad for the Indian country's economy and that s/he should not take the well paying job because it indirectly takes away a job from someone who lives in India? [You may or may not also slam the Inian entrepreneurs for being to greedy and only caring about the bottom line.]
Do you "check your principles at the door" while you congratulate she or he on landing that well paying job because, after all, this time the "outsourcing" had a direct benefit for someone that you know and care about?
What of the stats in the article? Doesn't mean a thing? The balance of trade stats, and America's job loss means nothing?
What's it like to live on your own island? Are you a currency trader, by chance?
I am responding to the content of the article. Buchanan is a modern day Luddite, nothing new here.
Luddites have been predicting gloom and doom since the beginning of the industrial revolution, their batting average is .000.
No, actually, you want to engage in another world war that wrecks most of the manufacturing infrastructure outside the United States.
The prosperity enjoyed by American manufacturing from 1945-1975 was an anomaly brought about by the loss of plant capacity in Europe and the Far East during World War II.
I'd say this is true in any country around the world, probably less of a problem in the US. It is an interesting question. What is the solution? More savings plans, more small business opportunities? I'm not sure.
Why should an unidentified group of "workers" be the prime beneficiaries of investments that they presumably didn't make?
Please remove me from your ping list.
Democrats have to shave both their faces in the morning [Kerry is the exception with three long faces] but Pat doesn't have any such problem because it's impossible for him to shave with his own head stuck up his...
I've got to have respect for those who see that the kitchen is too hot and therefore decide, on their own, to leave it.
The free traders will give the spurious argument that the cheap DVD players raise our standard of living. They may do that, but it is temporary. It would be better for everyone including that consumer to buy one long lasting American product (e.g. shoes) than a cheap DVD player and a pair of cheap Chinese shoes, both of which will be worn out in a year.
Laugh all you want at my examples, but we are trading the family jewels for knock-off plastic trinkets.
Ah, yes. You want to control how the "sheeple" will spend their money--for their own good, of course.
How do you propose to get them to be more responisble?
Part of the issue is our productivity - quite simply, America has the most productive work force in the world. Per capita, we work harder, longer and more productively than any other population on the globe.
Our efficiency costs us jobs.
The downside is, we're also the most expensive, we have the highest wages and we have very nearly the highest cost of benefits, especially for retirement and health care.
To compete in a global market, our industries have to hold the line for the cost of goods sold as tightly as they can.
Meanwhile, our Congress keeps increasing the regulatory burdens on small and large businesses across the spectrum.
It is costly to do business in America because of OSHA, EPA and other extraordinary requirements. Mexico doesn't require an employer to report compliance with equal opportunity mandates.
Stanley Tool, like many other large American Corporations was ready to move offshore because of the high cost of taxes and IRS compliance rules for accounting.
We are a capitalist economy built on a free enterprise system. The job of a business is to be profitable at the bottom line and return earnings to its investors.
They do that by holding the line on costs and by playing effectively in a competitive market environment.
The primary purpose of a business is not to provide jobs. Like buying raw material, a company hires the people it needs to get the job done and the lowest possible price.
Yes, it is to their benefit to use all the Organizational Behavior techniques they can to enhance the efficiency of their workforce.
If we want to keep jobs in America, the labor force has to be competitive - we've got to make it more attractive for businesses to operate in America and hire Americans than it is to go overseas.
The government needs to quit tyeing the hands of businesses behind their backs.
It is not the government's duty to provide jobs - it is the government's duty to get out of the way of those who do.
When the Big Kahuna Buchananite Himself can't be bothered to drive an American car, this is a loser of an idea.
Bottom line: sell me crap once, I will *NOT* say "Thank you sir, may I have another" and buy a second time.
After airplanes, our No. 1 export in terms of a trade surplus is ... soybeans. Corn is next, followed by wheat, animal feeds, cotton, meat, metal ore, scrap, gold, hides and skins, pulp and waste paper, cigarettes, mineral fuels, rice, printed materials, coal, tobacco, crude fertilizer and glass. Airplanes aside, the United States has the export profile of an agricultural colony.Clearly, the "export profile" of the U.S. does not bother Pat a whit, as by his standard, we should export more corn and soybeans and concentrate on that increasing that share of agricultural goods exports from 8%. In other words, Pat (the economist) correctly identifies some of the comparative advantages, but Pat (the Luddite) looks at the largest exporting country on the globe and sees an "agricultural colony." His supporters, meanwhile, skip right-over the passage I emphasized. Nothing is more important than their faith in the idea that our economy sucks and that no one but Pat can save them.
But he lacked the conviction to own a Caddie in the first place.
It's a vicious circle being created. Due to destruction of well paying jobs, vast swaths of our population can no longer afford American made even if they want to. The have to shop in Wal-Mart and buy crap from China and other foreign goods
Aw c'mon, take the next step. Only the government can save us, right?
Advanced nations export high value added, manufactured goods. That's how Japan has run a trade surplus for three decades. Usually it's third world nations that try to pay for imported manufactured goods by selling raw agricultural commodities abroad.
That's a good point. But above that circle there are still people with choices who are making bad ones and contributing to the problem.
And it's the demagogues that try to convince you that developing-nation mercantilist economics can be applied to the most industrialized county on Earth.
Free trade bump.
But, there's a point where my brain overwhelms my pocketbook and I go for the best product at the best price, regardless where it comes from.
There is NO American substitute for Highland Single Malt Scotch (sorry Kentucky and Tennessee).
I buy the very best I can afford, based on the principle of "Penny wise, Pound foolish."
In 1988 I bought a 27" TV for $980. Yesterday I bought one for $163.
Zenith and RCA could not stay competitive building TVs in America.
Its that simple (and that sad).
Anyone with a brain rattling about in his noggin can see the Democrats will exploit and sell this very idea. That a John Kerry administration will save their jobs from being outsourced and wages slashed. When people feel betrayed by big business they run to government for shelter from the storm.
Ignore this at your own peril!
How do you propose preventing people from making bad choices?