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Monday, February 9, 2009

WHERE ARE THE JOBS?

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises proclaim their neutrality."
- Dante -

Workers, consumers, and voters, unite!

This is indeed a time of great moral and economic crisis. Bankers and large multinational corporations are sitting on their money, doing nothing, and their conservative Republican allies in Congress are aiding and abetting them as growing millions of their fellow citizens are thrown out of work. You can always count on these conservative Republicans to let you down when the chips are down. With their hearts in ice, and their ostritch heads stuck firmly in the sands of unyielding principle, they refuse to budge to meet the crisis at hand. In this case, the principle immobilizing them is the belief that the federal government should not step in with extra and massive emergency spending for people to create work. Instead, they stand as stubborn mules solidly in support of more tax cuts for big business, even though that tired approach has yielded very little for most Americans over the past three decades. Today's conservative Republicans are once more standing in the way of progress for ordinary people, just as they did from 1929-1933 during the Great Depression, and again in the 1950s-1960s when many of them opposed federal enforcement of civil rights legislation. They were out of touch and wrong then, and they are equally out of touch and wrong today.

Many years ago, the conservative Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think-tank whose economic ideas heavily influenced Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and, to a lesser degree, Democrat Bill Clinton, strongly advocated the concept of free trade. They predicted it would, "over a fifteen year time span, create the world's largest market, some 360 million people." They also predicted that free trade agreements like NAFTA would guarantee American workers to be the most competitive in the world. The assumption was that, through our purchase of cheaper foreign-made goods, prices here would be much lower and foreign consumers would be able to afford and buy increasing amounts of technologically advanced American-made products, causing further job growth here. But the Heritage Foundation and its adherents were wrong. Dead wrong. Since 2001, when the export of high-paying American manufacturing jobs to cheap foreign labor markets really began to escalate, the Washington Post estimates we have lost 2.5 MILLION factory jobs here, 1 MILLION of them from NAFTA alone! Such a rapid and widespread drain of jobs and even entire plants from within our borders has proven disastrous.

I am not a protectionist. Trade with other countries is essential in keeping peace, providing prosperity, and promoting understanding, when done properly. But such trade must be fair and equally beneficial. Post-World War II European history proves this. Before that time, dating back many hundreds of years, Europe had been a group of disunified nation-states often feuding and warring with each other. There were wide variations in standard of living. Over the years, as a result of increased trade fostered through associations like the Common Market and, later, the European Union, Europe has become more multilaterally prosperous and has been largely at peace for nearly 65 years. But this scenario cannot be achieved through the flawed or one-sided trade agreements like our government has negotiated with China or set up with NAFTA and other similar deals over the past decade. For example, according to the Economic Policy Institute, our trade deficit with Mexico and Canada stood at $9 billion in 1993. That figure grew to $112 billion by 2004 and is even higher today. American unemployment has shot up dramatically, and wages have stagnated or fallen. The only real major beneficiaries of these failed trade agreements have been a handful of corporate executives both here and abroad, and some of the foreign governments involved. American workers (and our economy) have been badly hurt, and the lot of foreign workers, most of whom are paid a pittance, has only improved marginally overall. This is not progress; it is regression.

George W. Bush and many rabid Republican free market, free trade advocates like Phil Gramm, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Dick Armey, Mitch McConnell, and many more of that for-the-rich-only squad, also promised us that massive tax cuts for the wealthy and huge corporations would foster tremendous investment in new American industry and lead to the creation of millions of high-paying new jobs here. The current Republican congressional caucus still makes these claims. From John McCain to Mike Pence, from Richard Shelby to John Boehner, we all hear this chorus of nonsense about how cutting taxes is the only way to create new jobs. The Wall Street Journal and Chamber of Commerce crowd all join in harmony. But guess again, boys---it doesn't happen that way anymore. According to an August 4, 2006 CATO Institute report, in 2001 Bush and his Republican cohorts gave American corporations tax cuts ranging from 3-5%. In 2002, corporations were allowed to write off 30% of the cost of new equipment, and this figure was later raised to 50%. In a March, 2007 report issued by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the 2001 and 2003 Bush/neocon Republican income tax cuts gave an after-tax income increase of 6.8% to the upper 1% of income earners, and 4.6% to the top 20% of income earners. (By contrast, the lowest 20% of income earners only got o.5%). With many billions of dollars freed for corporations and for billionaires and millionaires alike, where was the resultant investment and job creation? Easy: In China, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico, and other countries. Not here. And we were forced to then BUY products made in those countries as a result of our own manufacturing being shipped there, an added insult to our injury!

I am not at all against good profit, or the honest attainment of individual wealth. I am glad our system has produced great prosperity and millionaires and billionaires over time. But I strongly object to collusion between concentrated capital and our government to vastly increase the wealth of already wealthy individuals while leaving eceryone else to fend for themselves. I detest the fact that concentrated capital and its Republican government stooges have, in effect, misled and lied to voters and economically held down the many for the overwhelming enrichment of only a few.

So, BANKERS, CORPORATE CEOs, REPUBLICANS, BILLIONAIRES, and MILLIONAIRES, it is now 2009 and your country is in grave need. After billions and billions of increased income through corporate tax cuts since 2001, and billions and billions in individual income tax reductions, and billions and billions in increased profit you have obtained by slashing your labor costs through the production of your goods in cheap foreign labor markets, and with millions of American consumers and workers now out of work, WHY ARE YOU JUST SITTING ON YOUR MONEY? Where the hell are all the millions of high-paying American jobs you promised would be created here? Were they just part of a big lie you told voters so you could get what you wanted and stuff your wallets at our expense? Will you wait until we once again have long breadlines and soup kitchens and riots in the streets before you act? I repeat, billionaires and millionaires, and especially you free market, free trade Republicans, and I do so for all of us voters, workers, and consumers (and THIS time, we want an HONEST answer): WHERE ARE THE JOBS?

6 comments:

Jessican said...

Wow. Great, well-researched post.

I don't understand how anyone would believe that following the same economic policy we have been for the past 8 (plus) years will somehow magically work now. It's like the Republican leadership can't get past their own ideology to see the reality of the job loss.

We trusted private industry and the magical free market to create jobs and grow the economy without regulation and that is why were are here today. Americans just want to work an honest job for an honest wage. Let's give them what they want ASAP, by whatever means.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Jessican!
I couldn't agree with you more. Workers in this country just want a job and a fair shake, something they haven't had in more than 35 years!

Manifesto Joe said...

One angle on NAFTA that isn't discussed much is what it has done to agriculture in Mexico. Mexican farmers have been thrown into direct competition with highly mechanized, and government-subsidized, American farming, and they've been losing steadily.

That puts people down there off the land. And can you venture a wild guess about what other problem that contributes to?

Jack Jodell said...

Can anyone spell "illegal immigration"? Thanks, Manifesto Joe. As usual, you are right on. Anf even another thing I didn't get into was the way many multinational (American-based) corporations have purposely relocated plants overseas and in Mexico to avoid what they view as costly and burdensome environmental standards and safeguards we have set up here. So, the bastards go elsewhere and pollute THAT country's air and water to reap a double bonanza: Dirt-cheap local labor and no added environmental costs. The boards of these corporations are criminals, to be sure. We should convene not only war crimes trials against the Bush administration, but also economic/crimes against humanity trials against the boards of the abovementioned violating corporate boards. I would relish the opportunity to be a prosecutor at such a trial!

SJ said...

A great and illuminating post. I agree with your proposed actions and also believe that there should be criminal prosecutions of corporations who do everything from:
-not pay their share of taxes to misappropriating federal aid i.e. our tax dollars
(especially by honoring bonuses and incentives for executives who pushed the world economy over the brink).
-SJ

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, SJ! Nothing worse than a Republican white collar thief on corporate welfare!