First white-collar workers stood idly by and watched blue-collar workers as they were sacrificed to satisfy the realities of the global economy. Although Iím sure that many white-collar workers sympathized with other Americans who were getting the axe, many more shrugged it off as what was supposed to be a necessary sacrifice to maintain a prosperous economy. Sure, we were told, there is short-term pain before the long-term gain, but free trade and an increasingly globalized economy go hand in hand and are just what America needs.
Now some of those very same white-collar workers are getting the axe. Just north of Orlando in Lake Mary, Florida, German-owned Siemens Corporation required soon-to-be former employees to train their imported replacements from India. Similar situations have been and still are being played out all across America. Other companies, rather than bringing in foreign workers, put American workers in unemployment lines and hired foreign workers in their homeland instead. One thing is for sure: Americans in unemployment lines are not going to be standing in retail checkout lines. Free traders surely understand this, even though they emphasize that two-thirds of the nationís economic activity is dependent upon consumer spending.
Illegal immigration is also an inter-related problem in dealing with the outright theft of jobs that should be reserved for Americans. But these days, I wonder if it would be better to spend our energy rounding up illegal immigrants for deportation or concentrate more on outsourcing those Americans who feel offshore outsourcing of American jobs is a "good thing." Itís worth pondering which group of people -- illegal immigrants or government officials who advocate outsourcing -- is a bigger threat to America. It could very well be the elected representatives or appointed officials that publicly support offshore outsourcing of American jobs since they have more influence in the direction of the economy.
Of course the pro-outsourcing comments of the Bush administrationís appointed chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Mr. Gregory Mankiw, were particularly appalling, but this wasn't the first of such objectionable statements. Back in May of 2003, Congressman Jay Inslee stated that "for any economic growth to occur, a country needs to add more value to its products without increasing the cost and outsourcing to India helps U.S. companies do exactly that." What an idiotic thing to say. The representatives that immediately called for Mankiwís resignation were right on target, and Rep. Jay Inslee should be removed from office as well.
If our elected officials are so concerned about rising productivity in this country, exactly how are American workers supposed to be encouraged to stay productive in a cut-throat economy where the atmosphere is polluted with mass layoffs, forced downsizing and offshoring of many of our countryís brightest and best-educated citizens? Before the American economy can "turn the corner" and realize true prosperity, our elected officials and American companies must look at American workers as potential contributors to future prosperity rather than labor cost problems to be dealt with.
Taxpayer funded job retraining programs for existing workers are not the answer. For one, nobody has been able to describe exactly what the reserved future jobs for Americans will be as we deliberately slaughter the old jobs. Secondly, with budget deficits in nearly every state in the Union, and with the federal government unable to kick in retraining dollars to help cash-strapped states since our national account is in red ink as well, how will the training programs for new jobs be successfully funded? State college tuitions are rising while aid to college financial budgets is falling. And according to Microsoft CEO Steven A. Ballmer "the United States is No. 3 now in the world and falling behind quickly No. 1 [India] and No. 2 [China] in terms of computer-science graduates." How many more versions of the "New Economy" can American withstand?
Can we look to smaller companies to prop up Americaís economy? After all, we are told, small businesses are the backbone of Americaís economy and employ more Americans than the big, multinational businesses like GE and Microsoft. But more American businesses with less than 500 employees were closed in 2001 and 2002 than were started. According to the Small Business Administration, such negative job
growth hasnít occurred in more than a decade. And GE reluctantly announced recently that they knowingly are transferring technology to China to win contracts to sell to the growing Chinese market. Such fixation on short-term strategies that knowingly put our best and biggest companies at a disadvantage in the long term is just plain bad economics, I donít care what economics textbook youíre reading. American companies have invested billions of dollars in research over the years, only to give our foreign competitors a free ride in the end. Of course if American companies ever got a free ride or most favored status, calls of isolationism would be sounded and accusations of walling off Americaís borders would fly.
The thinking of those who advocate free trade (who were ridiculed by our founding fathers in their day, by the way) and offshoring of American jobs is pretty clear. They donít see a problem with the layoffs of fellow Americans so that they, who are still employed, can better-afford the good or service once produced or performed by newly unemployed American workers. Until these people see their own job-titles declared losers in the American economy will they realize that all along they should have been advocating what was best for America rather than what was best only for themselves.
One thing that still divides our country today is that too many people are fixated only on their own special interests, willing to endorse policies that benefit their own industry even though other American industries would be sacrificed. For instance, farmers shouldn't endorse trade deals that increase their export potential while manufacturers get swamped with imports in the same trade deal, and vice-versa. Every American industry needs to support the other to the extent possible. Itís united we stand and divided we fall, and outsourcing is merely the latest method of American job destruction that threatens to divide us all.