Toyota Motor Corporation announced this week that it will be
moving over 5000 jobs in sales, management, and marketing from Torrance, CA in
Los Angeles County to Plano Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Toyota established
a its first US relationship with Southern California in 1957 and opened its
national sales and marketing headquarters in Torrance in 1982. This move
to Texas follows a recent junket to California by reactionary Texas governor
Rick Perry seeking to poach California industries by offering "a better
business climate" in his proto-feudal plutocratic state, i.e. a climate in
which social services, affordable health care, environmental protections, and
women's rights have been sacrificed at the altar of lower taxes for the rich
and bowing to the desires of the corporations, big oil, and the 1%.
Toyota is seeing record profits this year of around $17 billion. (Sarcasm ahead.) Of course, Toyota cannot afford the expensive environment of Los Angeles. Why in 2012, Californians actually agreed to slightly increase taxes on the top 0.1% to collect money for schools, healthcare, environmental protections, and infrastructure--the nerve. Californians actually believed in a slight move towards a balance between corporate and personal profits and the welfare of the middle class, working class, and poor. Bad for business indeed.
The United States saw its most prosperous and productive years when corporations such as IBM and GM had a covenant with their employees in the mid-20th century. CEOs and senior leaders still made reasonable bonuses and companies made reasonable profits, but workers were also provided the means for a middle class existence via solid salaries, stable pensions, and subsidized healthcare. Everyone understood the value of providing for the next generation of Americans via taxes to improve education and infrastructure. As so many have identified, the obsessive quest for unlimited wealth by corporations and the uber-rich, and the gross inequalities that have been built upon the backs of the labor and financial contributions of the middle and working classes since the 1980s, have devastated and destroyed this partnership and brought increased poverty and the end to upward mobility for most Americans.
(image by cwx0904)
The changes in the 80s and 90s with outsourcing and offshoring industries and jobs were marketed to our population by the offers of tempting reductions in prices for a variety of products now manufactured out of the country. Only when there were burgeoning middle classes in some of the countries hosting these American-run "international corporations", did American consumers begin to realize that they had become expendable not only as workers, but as consumers. With millions of Asian and Central American clients spending money, corporations and the 1% had even less reason to "care" about America and Americans, to contribute to the country that had provided them with a launching pad and institutional support, and to return tax dollars to the society in which they claim--or claimed--citizenship. Progressive pundits have not only labeled and decried this trend, rightly predicting a return to a feudal society in modern America with a small number of "haves", a slightly larger professional class of "wanna-have" courtiers, and a plethora of "have-nots" (otherwise known as "them" or "the others"); but suggest that we should've prevented this devolution by continuing progressive taxes, corporate regulation, and tariffs for products manufactured overseas and imported into the US.
It is not too late for us to adopt all of these excellent recommendations and turn the sinking ship around. However, I would like also to take the last suggestion and adapt it to California in cases such as the Toyota move. If companies wish to leave California and move their operations to the reactionary, union-free, tax-free Southern "plantations"--I mean, "business friendly environments"; we should consider imposing tariffs on the products they will then try to export to California. As a California resident who favors an even more progressive tax system for individuals and corporations to support a thriving populace, health, food, schools, healthcare facilities, public transportation and infrastructure, I would be willing to pay more for material goods such as cars, computers and other technology, etc," The blue states should band together to advocate for their vision of America and tell the red states that their feudalism and plutocracy will not be supported by us being tempted by lower prices for often unnecessary products and services if the cost will be the worsening health and welfare of the non-rich in their states.
If blue states don't act now and soon, we will see an internal repeat of the process that occurred with offshoring over the last 30 years. Companies will flee blue states and their obligations to return some of their profits to the populace and local society, and will create a mini-spending class in the red state milieu among their indentured servant workers. Corporations and the 1% will continue to hoard their gluttonous profits, and blue states will no longer have adequate revenue to be able to implement the social service, healthcare, education, and environmental programs that they value. Eventually, blue states will face bankruptcy and will be strong-armed into adopting the plutocrats' feudalism to be able to simply feed and house their growing poor.
Perhaps it's time to shout out the well-known phrase, quoted by one of our visionary former presidents (Sarcasm. Please.), "fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."
Let us not get fooled again. While we still can.