Who did what to who? Where are the jobs!!!

So, you think you can vote your way out of your problems? America is now a giant ship with a small rudder. It’s obviously important to have the right people representing you and have the correct policies in place that balance out all the things this new world is doing that affect your life. But there is more. Much more. You need to change yourself first.

“America has always had one GIANT thing over China and even Russia. Although certain ill informed think tanks tout the Chinese as “the great educators”, with the brightest minds and best science/math scores. Maybe so, but they lack one thing after being beat down with communism and tyranny for 25 generations, and that is the inability to INVENT things. They can only mimic, copy, counterfeit, steal and reverse engineer our inventive genius pioneering minds as ordained by the providence of our 400 years of freedom. We will always be number 1 in the world, never forget that.” –Rick P

I have repeatedly seen interviews, seen with my own eyes, and heard with my own ears, personal stories of the man or woman who worked most of their lives or for decades at some kind of manufacturing plant: building and assembling, making something with their hands, and then suddenly, the plant closes. This scenario has played out millions of times over the last 30+ years.

This is the scuttling of the American middle class. Not necessarily by greedy corporations or millionaires and billionaires plotting and scheming the entire demise, but rather by uncaring, greedy, ignorant, little driving forces, which is the person you see when you look in the mirror. You and your neighbors put each other out of work because you didn’t care.  “Love thy neighbor as thy self” What happened to that? Those words that came out of Liberal and Conservative mouths alike? Sure, you said you cared, but we know that’s a load of bull. You would like to blame everyone else, and surely the cogs and gears in the corporate machine, that we all love to hate apparatus that strips the meat off the bones of it’s workers. But maybe, you’re the one that pushed the green button and made the machine roar to life.  So, here we are. Major industries are now closed, and you better have a masters degree in something that can’t be outsourced, or you better wake up and invent something new (still possible). The old ways are gone, but has our imagination gone with them? Can we learn from our past mistakes? You’re really going to have a tough time keeping up with Lees and the Yangs with just a high school diploma.

You and your family, just like others, sit quietly on your appointed street, in your neighborhood block, living your lives with a desire to have more, and coveting what others have. That’s the American way right? You get up every morning, just like all your neighbors, get in your car, go off to work, and come home. Week after week. You want the best like everyone else, but you don’t save like you should. Instead, you buy, buy, buy, that STUFF you want but don’t really need, and you STILL want more. You can’t be outdone by Bob and Jill! No way!

For 15 years you worked at Litton Microwave (now gone) and made enough money to put a little aside for the rainy day, some for your retirement, and some for your kid’s college.

Meanwhile, just like you, your other neighbors are doing the same thing. Heading for the Pontiac assembly plant, another to the Levi’s factory, and another to the GE toaster plant down the road a bit. Then suddenly you’re out of work when the plant shuts down. Like losing a loved one, you go through a grieving process, and all sorts of things happen. You blame the company, you blame the greedy stock holders, the Chinese, the government. You forgot to blame someone though. That person, is you.

While you were sleeping, your company and union pension fund were investing in companies who were outsourcing and moving companies and jobs overseas so the stock holders could see a bigger return. The company made higher margins and then invested more in the same. Like countless others, you may have jumped into the stock market yourself. It was so easy, just sit at your computer and hit some keys! What did you invest in? Did you expect to lose money? Nope! If you could make large, and roll fat, you were as happy as a clam.

How much attention or consideration did you give to your neighbor across the street who made toasters in a nearby city when you needed a new toaster? When you bought that great stock? “Let’s go shopping!” is the true cry of a lunatic. Grab your Honda SUV or your Toyota, load up the kids and off you go to Wal-mart! You looked at the sweet products all lined up like tin soldiers, the wonderful features and ultimately the price, but NEVER turned it over and checked to see where it was made. You bought it because it was CHEAP, right? Come on now, it’s time to be honest. Then thousands, millions more people just like you were doing the same thing all across the country.  Each person basically putting his or her neighbor out of work out of selfishness; intentional or not; for lack of consideration and unintended consequences were staggering all the whilst your politicians kissed ass and made a cushy little nest for themselves–Just like you were.

Now that you lost your job, it’s horrible and it has to stop! See, it’s always been about you. You did not listen to your parents and grandparents; you didn’t care much for history lessons. You never really took the time to think what you were doing to that poor guy across the street or that person a thousand miles away. All out of work and looking for a job at Wendys. You felt bad, but it wasn’t about you.

You can rationalize it any way you want, but how you purchase and invest has had a deleterious outcome on every aspect of American manufacturing.  You just made it REALLY easy for the corporations to move. You voted for the wrong people with the wrong ideas. Didn’t hold anyone accountable for the fact that since 2000 1/4 – 1/3 all manufacturing has slipped out of town while you were sleeping.  In the 2000s, U.S. manufacturing suffered its worst performance in American history, in terms of jobs. Not only did America lose 5.7 million manufacturing jobs, but the decline as a share of total manufacturing jobs (33 percent) exceeded the rate of loss in the Great Depression. Despite this unprecedented negative performance, most economists, pundits and elected officials remain remarkably blasé about what has transpired.

Manufacturing, they argue, has simply become incredibly productive. While tough on workers who are laid off, outsized job losses actually indicate superior performance. All that might be needed are better programs to help laid-off production workers. And there is certainly no need for a determined national manufacturing competitiveness strategy.

Now you have no job, and unless you can re-school yourself, you’re SOL. What about your kids, and their kids? Forget about sending your kid to school, even if you have a job. The cost is reaching it’s critical mass. A point where there’s just no way to pay it back. Surely there is no life time jobs anymore. These young kids graduating with massive student debt will inevitably lose their job within 3-5 years, and then what?  Don’t worry though, at least you got what you wanted.

Damn those hippies! You know, the ones that hated the establishment? The ones that took risks and spent more than the ought to have? They’re now moving into retirement and they are more than happy to have the very thing they hated (government) take care of them. Trust me, they will show up and vote with the rest of the 47% of the country. Funny, aren’t they?

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Percent Change in Manufacturing Employment During the Great Depression and the 2000s

So much of the debate and rhetoric around U.S. manufacturing is erroneous, precisely because the core data on manufacturing output and productivity is so flawed. It’s time for this debate to be informed by accurate data and thorough analysis. We need to arrive at a point where anytime someone asserts that the loss of manufacturing jobs is due principally to superior productivity growth, the statement is challenged as inaccurate. And likewise with statements like, “since we have lost so many manufacturing jobs, it proves that it is no longer an important industry”. The reality is:

  • A large share of manufacturing jobs were lost in the last decade because the United States lost it’s competitive edge for manufacturing. It was due to a failure of U.S. policy, not superior productivity.
  • The loss was cataclysmic and unprecedented, and it continues to severely impact the overall U.S. economy.
  • Regaining U.S. manufacturing competitiveness to the point where America has balanced it’s trade in manufacturing products is critical to restoring U.S. economic vibrancy.
  • Regaining manufacturing competitiveness will create millions of higher-than-average-wage manufacturing jobs, as well as an even greater number of jobs from the multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy.
  • The United States can restore manufacturing competitiveness and balance manufacturing goods trade within less than a decade if it adopts the right set of policies in what can be termed the “four T’s” (tax, trade, talent, and technology).

So where do we start? Stop thinking that it’s only about you and your own wallet, step out of that bubble world you live in, and stop listening to loud baby-like whining minority whack jobs that lean on socialism like Canada and Europe. Start taking personal responsibility and make a sacrifice to put BACK something into this country, like those elders of the great generation that saved us from annihilation from the Germans and Japanese.  I think it might be too late, but maybe not.  Reach out to something true.  You guessed it… GOD. We kicked him out because we are just that good–Wrong!

You could have learned something from what they went through, but you didn’t. Now you are delusional and too willing to let others do your thinking for you.  If we go down the crapper, it’s your fault, and mine.  Second or third place is now “good enough”. That’s what they teach in our schools, so why should you expect anything more?

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