James Steele: [interjecting] Exactly!
Rob Kall: ..is coming in, and once we started signing all these trading agreements we gave away all of that income for a couple of hundred multi- national corporations.
Donald Barlett: [interjecting] Exactly!
Rob Kall: Because that's really what the problem is, it's not like small business benefits from these globalization trade deals. The companies that benefit are the same ones that are setting up offices overseas and then writing off the expenses obtained for the move to overseas.
Donald Barlett: You make a really important point there, that it's these large global corporations that are benefiting. You know sometimes, and I'm guilty of this, we talk about corporations as though they are a monolithic model, and they're not. You make a very important point. It's the international global corporations that derive all of the benefits from what's going on in the economy now. You know, the domestic corporations are in truth being hammered. They have no way to hide their income, and they have no way to avoid their taxes, so they're paying maximum, near maximum tax rates, and they're getting none of the benefits from this global economy, I mean, none of the benefits. They all float to the international corporations.
James Steele: [Jim Steele here] And to add to that, not only do these companies not get any benefit, but because the multi nationals benefit from being able to shift their factories offshore and to bring the goods back in duty free, they become strong opponents of any legislation or activity of the government that might be interpreted as protectionist or trying to bolster domestic industry. So as a result of that, when there's a domestic industry that is then impacted very negatively by imports, they get no support from the big guys, because it's in the interest of the big guys to just keep that door open as wide as it can. The best example of this, we've got this in the book, is the printed circuit board industry. Circuit Boards are the heart of all digital devices. They're the brain inside cell phones, iPads, computers, you name it. That industry began in the United States, in the early "50s outside of Chicago. And it's typical of so many things about this country. Things are embedded here and industry gets started, but in the last fifteen to twenty years low cost imports from mainly Asia, began to systematically erode that industry. And it wasn't just a matter of cheap labor. In some cases with Korea and China, it was a matter of government supporting various companies that then proceeded to try to hammer domestic US industry. That industry here in this country then went to Washington over and over again. And you see this. I, we don't care who's in the White House, whether it's Republican or Democrat, doesn't make any difference, and said, "look, we've got a problem here. You really need to do something about this kind of unfair competition, where people subsidize the workforce, where they subsidize the industry itself, and then send it over here." And people who had these plants over here, said "Look, I'm not getting subsidiaries from anybody. I'm just trying to keep my work force employed, paying decent wages and building a product that we've known how to build for years and years. But I can't compete on something like this coming in' And so what happened, they get no help at all. And they get no help at all, partly because of the big guys who don't want any restrictions at all on free trade, because that hammers them. That crimps their ability to ship work offshore, and to bring the products back duty free.
Rob Kall: Now you tell another story in the book, about the Rose industry. Now what impressed me about that, was that even before the globalization trade agreements went into place, it literally, Federal agencies were setting up the industry to be wiped out. Could you talk about that?
James Steele: [Jim Steele here] That is one of the stories that really got to us, because this is typical of what this country was about for so long. Almost any community of any size, in many parts of the country, had greenhouses where they grew roses. In some places it was more conducive to them than others, but these are small businesses that Don was talking about earlier. I mean they were all over the country. But what happened was, going back to the '70s, the State department and other agencies got it in their mind, that wouldn't it be great if they could talk these Colombian farmers who were growing coca, drugs, into growing roses instead. So they began to.. and they also saw that this would be a way to take a poor country and kind of develop some of its industry and so forth. So here you have the American tax dollars going into pilot programs through the State department to encourage the growth of an industry in Columbia. Now, if that industry had been to develop roses in Columbia, to sell them in the domestic market there, that's fine. But it wasn't. It was to create an industry that would then export those roses to the US and we would buy them. The State department made sure that the tariffs were low, gave them all kinds of loans so that they could almost create an industrialized process. So as a result of this, roses began to be growing in the high plains of Columbia. They would pick these things, load them onto big jet transports, fly them to Miami. From Miami they're dispersed all over the country. And in the space of about twenty years, the American rose industry was destroyed. I mean there's virtually almost no rose greenhouses anywhere in the country any more. I mean you can find a couple here and there, but once they were common everywhere...
Rob Kall: Yeah. Your book says that 90% of them have gone.
James Steele: The..
Rob Kall: And I know that here in Pennsylvania we have a couple of decent sized ones, but it's a rare thing.
James Steele: It's a rare thing, and sometimes they've cultivated a kind of rose that somebody has an affection for, but it's very hard to compete with the kind of industry that our own government created that ran folks out of business here.
Rob Kall: [interjecting] I got..
James Steele: And that's just typical of what a lot of our polices have been. They've been very short sighted, nobody thought them through, and in some cases there were other reasons behind them other than just"
Rob Kall: I would think that maybe if you're trying to persuade cocaine growers to grow something else, that this would be subsumed under the drug war, which is another huge mistake that really..
James Steele: Right