Posted by Peter W. Schramm
The Economist makes the point that companies are starting to relocate from China.
bout time, but "relocating" to Vietnam and other non-Chinese places in Asia will "help" American consumers only marginally, and American workers not at all.
dain, if other places become productive, and we buy their products, they gain dollars to buy our products. It is good for us, and for everyone if others prosper. We might be able to prosper a little on our own, in isolation, but would never really prosper without others more comfortably placed to buy our goods. Trade keeps American workers working, and provides cheaper goods for American workers to buy.
Same old argument, but honestly, on the whole, is the American worker suffering, even from competition with China?
Kate, we are down to 10% of the workforce in manufacturing/industry...there are fewer people working in manufacturing than in the 1950s (despite our booming population and labor force). Even from the narrow perspective of national security and military procurement, this is not a healthy situation. And, more broadly, the reason that the American family has prospered is that it is now a 2-paycheck organization -- 70%+ married women now work, but that has pretty much peaked. In the next 20 years there wont be that "cushion" any longer, and you will see a real decline in the prosperity of working class people. Remember, only 27% of the adult population has any kind of a college degree, and thats not likely to increase much with constant tuition hikes and the outsourcing of white-collar jobs.
Sorry to be so bleak, but the whole "free trade" thing is a libertarian "bill of goods." Right up until the 1950s the GOP was PROTECTIONIST, and thats because they had the good sense to put the country first. Libertarians, on the other hand, dont even like national boundaries, immigration laws, or government for that matter...you wanna trust these people?
dain, We have fewer farmers, too, but more food than we know what to do with. Part of the reason we have fewer people working in both sectors is better technology and more work being done by machines. In manufacturing/industry, that is more work being done by computerized machines. You need less people in factories. Is this such a bad thing? Even with your concerns, we do not seem to be having unemployment problems, yet.
The US economy actually demands women for the workforce. If they werent there, would there be enough men to fill all of those jobs? (of course, I also think women need to work because the American family is taxed too heavily, but thats another argument) Would it be such a bad thing for the American family if more mothers could stay at home?
27% of the adult population with a college degree sounds pretty good. Has it ever been so high before? And do immigrants, especially illegal immigrants in the population, tend to pull that percentage down? Just a thought. I dont expect you to know.
I confess, I have been reading Forbes Magazine and The Wall Street Journal for more than 25 years, and when I taught high school econ., I was working primarily from Sowell and Kirk. Those are my intellectual influences in this area, but I do not think them particularly Libertarian. Then, except for brief periods when a given industry needs a little shelter, I dont see that protectionism does America much good. I do not see that it does us all that much harm, either, but is allowing the US to be full of cheap goods really hurting the average American?
Kate for Prez!
Well, Kate, you put up a good resistance, but ultimately most of the things you point to are a bit specious. First, just as in the 3rd World, people gotta eat...our low unemployment figures dont mean a great deal. Increasingly, the wages of working class folk arent keeping up with major expenses like housing, medicine, or education (but, hey, they can buy lots of cheap stuff at WalMart). Second, the very fact that we import lots and lots and lots of labor-intensive goods from Asia and elsewhere belies your point about new technology...the fact is, we still have need of labor-intensive production, but those jobs have been off-shored (although we have millions of people who would benefit from having them right here in the USA). True, if they were made here you couldnt buy a microwave oven for $5, but our homes are full of too much junk as it is...paying more to help our country is a good thing, as the old GOP knew once upon a time. Your point about women and about college education are actually related; womens ascendency in the workplace and the need for college credentials are both linked to our shift to service dominance. Having a quarter of your population college educated sounds good...until you realize that NOT having a degree is a license to be impoverished (increasingly this is true). People who argue that having a service-driven economy requires relinquishing our manufacturing economy are just crazy...it does not follow.
This was news today.
I am poking around the web, trying to find information that confirms that the working class is falling behind, but except for marx.com, Im not finding much on the topic. Housing? I havent seen a house built for a reasonable price in years, out here where I live. We deplored the Levittown houses, but whats replaced them? The vast houses out here in Clevelands suburbs are beginning not to sell. You just have to wonder who will buy all of those large houses if people are not having children. The young people I know who are buying houses get subsidies from county governments. Medicine and education also are government subsidized by Medicaid and student loan programs. And the federal minimum wage will be raised shortly. Although who but teens work at minimum wage? (Even our local McDonalds pays more to start.)
Many products that are more cheaply created by unskilled labor are produced overseas. Where labor is cheap, that is the way to go. In America, where labor is NOT cheap, manufacturing is increasingly done by computerized machines. WHY should anybody in America pay more to buy an American-made good? And where do Americans get the money to fill their homes with the "too much junk" that you deplore?
And I suggest, again, that more women are in colleges because that is the way for a woman to be able to survive. Given the unlikelihood of marriage, ready acceptance of bastardy, as well as the high divorce rate and the ease of divorce,(it is practically like in Sharia where a man has only to say "I divorce you" three times and it is done. What kind of contract is the marital one, anymore?) parents send daughters to college because there is no better option for their futures. Yes, especially women have a terrible time surviving, financially, without a college degree. There are better, more physical, job options for men, from construction to car repair, trades of all sorts. Those take training, too, but not in colleges. Those job options are not closed for women, but neither do they seem to be attractive to them, either.
I think that America has low unemployment, given the influx of illegal immigrants, too, means a great deal. We are competing with cheap labor from all over the world, and still me manage to keep an astonishing number of people employed. It is amazing what Americans do with freedom.
Another point, before I forget. We (Republicans) used to complain about giving tax-payer money to foreign countries. I never hear about that, anymore, but presume we do it, still. I would rather have those people in other countries working and producing inexpensive goods for Americans and themselves and people all over the world; engaging in trade to make their nations productive rather than dependent.
First, just as in the 3rd World, people gotta eat...our low unemployment figures don’t mean a great deal.
Tell that to anyone who lived through the Great Depression! People had to eat then, too, but that didnt stop the unemployment rate from reaching 25 percent.
And yet, John, how many people actually starved to death during the GD? My point was that foreign manufacturing erodes our great middle class...something I think is necessary for a decent democracy. Ive thrown stats at you folks before...a man grows weary of making the same point over and over to people who just dont want to listen.
Perhaps this will break through...a person with a college degree will, on average, make a million dollars more during his/her lifetime than a person with a high school diploma. Chew on that, remembering that only about a quarter of our workforce has a college education. How many years have to go by before you have John Edwards famous "Two Americas?" Whats needed is basic high-wage employment for working people...the kind of jobs we used to have. The time to restore this is now, while we still have the consumer power.
dain, did you see the Charles Murray article in the WSJ about vocational education? His suggestion was that not everyone is suited to college, but that there are jobs that need doing - like carpentry, plumbing, trades that require training, which can not be "out-sourced" and so stay here AND fill a demand that does not go away. It IS high-wage employment and we need intelligent people doing those jobs. It was a lovely article.
I worked in a cannery, on the line, in the summers when I was home, out of college on break, out in Oregon. Is that the old-style job you are referring to? No one was happy doing that job. It paid better than waitressing, but was wretched work. I hope a machine does what I did.
Kate, I suggest you look up a thing called "Baumols Disease." Some say weve cured it, but I seriously doubt it.
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