Ask anyone about manufacturing jobs in America and you get pretty much the same response: there are none. Manufacturing in the US has been in decline since the late 1970s, with brief periods of recovery, usually followed by a steep return to the downward trend. And Remember NAFTA? If you do, then you recall that the Clintons swore up and down that it would bring jobs to all of America. “NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t support this agreement” – Bill Clinton.
NAFTA didn’t mean jobs. In fact manufacturing stagnated for the next 6 years until Clinton convinced us to approve what really put the final spike into US manufacturing: admitting China into the World Trade Organization. Clinton and Republicans argued that “Free trade” with Beijing was what we really needed. But just look at this chart. That steep dip in 2001 is the same time China gained access to the WTO, and the same time they began taking US factories. At this point it would be easy to shake your fist at corporations and lay the fault at their feet, but don’t; we share some of the blame, because who doesn’t like cheap shoes? Here are some of the benefits China offered to anyone willing to hand over manufacturing into their loving hands:
- Cheap, Slave labor – China has prisoners produce some goods for export; if a prisoner doesn’t meet quota, he/she doesn’t eat.
- Currency manipulation – by artificially keeping the yuan low compared to the dollar, Chinese manufacturers effectively get a massive state-sponsored subsidy and US purchasers get a massive discount in price.
- No or lax environmental laws in China results in further cost reductions.
- Low wages in China and with them, you guessed it: lower costs.
The New York Times penned a stunning report on what it’s like to work at an Apple factory in China: “Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight. A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.” How can SC workers compete with that.
That’s almost slavery.
And offering this kind of environment to a globalist corporation is like waving a syringe of heroin in front of a junkie – not to mention US consumers! We’ve all seen those low, low prices at Wal Mart and we’ve all benefited from them. Let’s be honest. If you’re a corporation and suddenly your competition moves its plants to China and is now selling products for 50% the cost you as a CEO have only two choices: move your factories to China too, or close shop.
Again: how are SC workers supposed to compete with a country that enslaves its own people? They can’t. Why do we allow Trade with China if this is their idea of human rights? We shouldn’t.
South Carolina Republicans Want to “Help” Again. This Time It’s Called the TPP.
And despite these problems, and all the evidence for free trade having destroyed SC’s manufacturing economy, another wave is about to hit. We should be wary of new government efforts to force free trade on us, which is exactly what our Republican representatives are doing – ALL OF THEM. This new round is called the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP. But let’s get one thing established before diving into the details of this new trade deal.
Whenever someone says “free trade,” stop them and point out that it’s not free trade, its advantaged trade. Who does it advantage and how? Easy – check out these points and ask yourself if something doesn’t look fishy:
- It makes manufacturing cheaper, increasing corporate profits so that people with stock get an advantage (advantage to rich folk).
- When profits go up, lead executives get big bonuses, giving them an advantage (advantage to rich folk).
- It benefits the country taking the factories because now it can give people jobs, steal technologies, and officials who made the deal sometimes (often? always?) get massive cash infusions (advantage foreign governments and advantage to rich folk).
- And let’s not forget: US Consumers benefit by getting lower cost products (advantage to us poor folk).
- But it helps US politicians the most; corporate lobbyists on K street make sure that politicians’ pockets are lined with campaign contributions, perks, and everything under the sun; this is why politicians LOVE free trade (Advantage SC Politicians).
Of course none of this is “free” to the American worker, who is at a major disadvantage. Next thing they know, they’ve lost their factory job and can’t afford to buy anything – not even the crap sold at WalMart.
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