Both Republicans and Democrats jabber a lot about jobs, even when times are relatively good. When times are bad the talk turns into a nasty shite-storm. The mantra for both sides is America can’t compete if we don’t [fill in the blank]. But here’s a dirty little secret: America can’t effectively compete regardless of which ideology you prefer.
The Democratic vision is to tax the hell out of the wealthy and make corporations pay dearly, but oddly considering their constituency and history, get rid of regulations too. Dems also like to retrain those with unmarketable skills into those with different unmarketable skills. Turning steel makers into assembly line workers doesn’t gain much unless you only need workers to assemble steel Big Macs.
We Unbombed Them Back From the Stone AgeAfter WWII, America spent a lot of money rebuilding the world economy. We rebuilt countries we bombed back to the Stone Age. Sure it was altruistic, but more importantly, there was plenty of economic benefit for America too.
“Made in Japan” used to be code for cheap crap – items from faux Stucky’s gift shop Indian drums to transistor radios that barely lasted through the voyage to American shores. Crap made cheaply, sold to relatively wealthy Americans, kept the money flowing and built a unified international economy that replaced the chaos of dozens of national unequal economies.
By the late 60′s, Japanese cheap crap became a flood of very good Japanese products. There was still a fairly vibrant US economy where heavy industry provided adequate jobs for adequate pay. Japan was still cheap enough to compete with American companies, but that was rapidly changing. As America exported more jobs, we also became a nation of consumer debt ridden, credit-crazy, not-saving orgyists buying stuff like 5-bladed razors and houses we couldn’t afford.
The collapse was on.
But the Japanese were no fools. As their fortunes rose. they began to demand the same sort of money and working conditions as Americans. American corporations responded to their demands and continued to send jobs even as their products became inexorably more expensive.
Eventually, both America and Japan became too expensive. Jobs moved from there to places like Korea. Then by the same route, Korean jobs moved to places like India, and lately, China. Radically low costs may draw jobs to places like Uganda next.
What about deregulation? We’ve already moved most high paying American jobs to Third World countries. Their lax or unknown regulations make their sweatshops and factories some of the most dangerous jobs on the planet.
Doing Anything to Turn a RupeeFor example China, on behalf of American companies, push Chinese workers to the point of suicide. The air in most Third World countries is too thick to breathe. Workers die from exposure to toxic chemicals or crushworthy machines and when they do are replaced with other destitute people willing to do anything to turn a Rupee – regardless of the danger and damage to their health and safety. If you don’t provide adequate health care, the cost of dead and disabled workers doesn’t matter much.
It’s often said that Americans won’t take some jobs. That may be true, but there’s a reason. American corporate sweatshops may make products cost competitive with India or China, but do it at the expense of worker safety while producing less and less money to buy their own goods.
You got no money, you can’t buy a color TV…from anyone.
The economic pendulum has swung one direction for a long, long time – perhaps too far to swing back. We should expect recessions to be deeper and last longer than ever before, regardless of the Democratic or Republican plans.
The War on the Middle Class is true, but so is the War on the Wealthy. Sadly, these are but the first battles in the War on Everyone, rich and poor alike. It’s united we stand, divided we fall time. Absent some agreement between waring political factions, we’ll all be killed in an economic holocaust.
And, that benefits no one.
Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!