There are many pundits, experts, and politicians bemoaning the demise of the heavy industry of this country. There are many reasons for this, but here are a few on my short list.
Fair Trade or Free Trade?
There is no such thing. NAFTA did this country a huge disservice. Many companies relocated factories to Mexico (which then moved to China). With China as a most favored nation to trade with, the pressure is even higher on US industry to make products faster and cheaper. The only recent chink in China is lead paint used in toys. But this is most likely the tip of this iceberg.
Subsidization of Industry
What country does not subsidize its industry? The United States, which believes in free market. Just about every other country subsidizes or otherwise supports the industry of that country. Of course, their population usually pays higher taxes…
Lower Labor Costs
Much has been made about lower labor costs in other countries. When there is a lower standard of living, what else would you expect? Live in a rat hole with almost nothing to eat, $5 a day buys a feast for the family, and you get the picture. Of course, a certain amount of corporate greed is involved, but that is a whole different subject (or is it?)
There, I’ve said it. Long term planning of today’s corporate world is anywhere from 2 or 3 years in the future. The quick buck to satisfy an ever impatient stockholder (and corporate bonuses) is an overwhelming mandate of the corporate executive.
I saw the below video, and was reminded of an incident from several years ago.
The company I worked for at the time built two machines for a Korean automotive company. They came in to the plant to buy off the machines, took one look at the equipment, and told us that they wanted us to take the safety guards off. Of course, we told them “no,” stating that the guards were for the safety of the operators. They replied, “We have many operators.”
Let us also not forget the differences in environmental standards & regulations that industries in foreign countries do not have to worry about. Here, in the United States, everyone from Aunt Martha, the EPA, and the Sierra Club have to sign off that undue numbers of earthworms wont be displaced by the building of a new plant.
An Indifferent Government
I have noticed that every election cycle the political parties court the labor vote. The rest of the time the politicians ignore or screw over the unions and the citizens of this country. And like idiots, we do not hold the politicians accountable for such self-destructive actions that undermine the security of this country. It is no longer America First, but me first.
A Biased Media
I’ve have also noticed that the media of this country has gone out of its way to portray the United States as inferior to the rest of the world. We are to blame for the ills of the world. And by the way, foreign made products are cheaper and just as well made as domestic made goods.
The Squeezed Consumer
The consumer, buying into the hype and needing to stretch the family finances, will buy the cheaper goods, especially if the products get good ratings. Pity…but then, look at how many goods, products, and components are made in foreign countries. Computers to sneakers to cars to clothing are made in foreign countries from China to Malaysia to Taiwan.
It doesn’t matter what country calls itself our ally, that country will put itself first. Economic warfare is bloodless, but no less effective. Dumping of cheap steel on this country killed the steel industry. Japan dumping cars at a loss to the consumer leveraged market share in the 1980s, and continues to this day. The economic fallout is tremendous, and cuts into the capabilities of this country to manufacture goods without reliance on foreign sources.
“But it’s a Global Economy!”
Yes, it is, but you don’t have to cut your own country’s throat to compete.
All I’m looking for is for our government to act on the behalf of this country and this country only. To many of the other countries of the world, the United States is a source of foreign aid, and there is little or no allegiance. We are also the apparent defacto policeman of the world – if someone gets in trouble, they don’t call the UN, they call the US. This country cannot afford to ignore the economic reality of industries relocating offshore. Yes, it may be attractive in the short run, but devastating in the long run.