Can we cut the crap here? Can we look dispassionately at the issue before us? This is a class struggle; it has always been a class struggle and it is always going to be a class struggle. We can cloak the issue of globalization in the mantle of altruism, that this is good for all concerned, but that is just not so. Globalism is good for the investment class and the ownership class and the banking class.
Globalism has injured working people on every continent on the planet. In the disguise of free trade, polluting industries migrate to where the laws most allow pollution. Globalism has brought about societal breakdowns everywhere that it goes. Subsistence farmers in Mexico find their water supply polluted by a US-owned blue jean factory. Unable to grow crops they abandon the land and head north to the United States, adding to the problem of illegal immigration.
Mexican peasant farmers must now compete with US agribusiness in their domestic market place and find themselves pushed below subsistence level. In our domestic market coffee prices have soared, but the amount of revenue going to the farmers has gone down. Free trade has benefited the coffee consortia, but the revenue is never passed along to the workers. This is the recurring theme of globalization over and over, productivity goes up, profits rise and wages fall. As coffee prices rise and fall, farmers in Vietnam react by cutting down more rain forest to plant more trees in an endless spiral of working harder for less.
As reported by England's Prince Charles, hundreds of subsistence farmers are committing suicide in India over the failure of genetically modified crops. The GM crops are shunned in the industrialized world but were sold to the Indian farmers as super seeds that didn't need pesticides. But they didn't tell the farmers that the seeds that cost twice as much also needed twice as much water than the regular seeds would need. When the water didn't materialize Monsanto shrugs and says, "Not our fault." But the farmers who once had the option of saving seed from year to year now find themselves without seed, deep in debt, and without a future.
We in America have been waiting for that promised white knight of new jobs to arrive, and for twenty years we have been told that new jobs are coming, clean, high-wage jobs. But it is a lie; there is no high-wage job growth in a country that exports high-wage jobs. Two minus two cannot equal three; you cannot export jobs that pay $30.00 per hour and expect them to be replaced by jobs paying $35.00 an hour. In the 1990's we were told that IT and computer jobs would be our salvation, but it's like trying to fill a sieve. Every time you develop an industry someone in the third world will develop a parallel industry and do the job for less money.
In my twenty-five years in the industrial engine business I have seen American companies that have made many mistakes. But I have also seen them try to compete with their own superior products against primarily Asian competitors operating as worldwide conglomerates. When the importers first came to the American market there was no pressure for them to show a profit, only to gain market share. They approached equipment manufacturers with free financing, design, and engineering assistance.
Once market share was gained, replacement parts cost rose, warranty dispositions declined. Discounts for distributors and suppliers were cut; the factory now serviced OEM customers directly, eliminating a lucrative market share for the distributor. The American companies had no choice but to head for lower cost labor and suppliers. Milwaukee suffered, Memphis suffered, Huntsville suffered as the cities lost employers and tax revenue. But who gained? Not the consumers, the prices remained the same or went up. Manufacturing jobs were replaced by warehouse jobs and in the small engine industry the repair business has all but disappeared from the landscape
The foreign manufacturers make profits by building more engines, not by repairing them. The American engine that could be overhauled for half the price of a new engine is replaced by a foreign product that will cost 75% of original cost, making replacement the better option. No need for lawn and garden equipment dealers, no need for independent repair shops. The discontinuation of a major component or modification can sometimes make even a simple repair impossible. Thus another American industry fades away, not because of quality or cost issues but because independent industries cannot compete against a global megalith.
No matter how many times we cut, it's still too short. During the Great Depression the Roosevelt administration instituted the minimum wage because although millions were unemployed, millions more toiled for starvation wages. To work for nothing is not a victory but a defeat! Slaves have jobs! Creating jobs is child's play; creating wealth is the trick. But the time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. We are heading headlong on a course that has brought us only poverty and cost. It's expensive to export industries and you pay the cost every day. New sales taxes, higher property taxes and falling home prices. Every industry lost will remain lost; the train to the bottom has room for us all.
Homes are being auctioned off in Detroit for as little as $50.00, not because there is no value in those homes but because there are no jobs for people who would buy them. For the same reason you don't buy a home in Death Valley, most of us need jobs. We have seen the decline of GM and Ford and the rise of Wal-Mart and the dollar stores, so ask yourself, "who gains here and who loses?" This is not an accident or a faux pas but an organizational business plan. They smile and tell you that the good jobs are coming, just hold on a little longer, but know full well that they are not and even if they wanted to they couldn't.
I'm a nationalist and I make no apologies for it. When I go to the open house at school I think my children's art work on the walls is the best. That doesn't mean that I hate the other children or that I want to see them all suffer, only that I care for my own first. I do not want to see an end to all trade or punitive trade barriers, only reciprocity. Americans cannot compete against .50 cent an hour wages, there is no increase in productivity that can offset that. It creates a wage pressure regardless of the cost of living; yet CEO's compensation continues to rise and the worker's continues to decline. The American manufacturers Association continues to make political donations and to promise no more lead paint in toys, yet there's more lead paint in toys.
The mainstream media tiptoe past this Godzilla and the issue is never even discussed. In the current debate for the auto bailout the Republicans turn the issue on its head. By bailing out the American big three, they argue, we are injuring the foreign import manufacturers, by choosing one taxpayer against another. They are fighting for lower wages for you! They are fighting to take the food from your mouth and the roof from over your head! Say the big three disappear, will the wages go up or down for the employees of the import manufactures? Will the cost of those cars they build go up or down once their American competition is gone? Don't kid yourself, that answer is obvious; you will pay more and the workers will earn less.
The Republicans have two goals; they have always been the party of big business and are always the beneficiaries of the Chambers of Commerce largesse. But they smell the blood of the labor unions and see a chance to smash their adversaries, the contributors to Democratic Party campaigns. So what if a few million Americans suffer directly and millions more suffer indirectly, because this is a class struggle; it has always been a class struggle and it is always going to be a class struggle. They see a chance for a political victory and your well-being matters naught.
Somewhere along the way, though, there was a stumble, a fly in the frosting of the big, glorious cake. As Bluto told Flounder in ANIMAL HOUSE, "Face it, you fucked up, you trusted us!" Greed and speculation have foisted trillions of dollars of bad paper into the world economy, backed by the value of home loans given to people with declining incomes and a diminished future. Oh, what a surprise as the economy tanks! As Congress fights for lower wages for American workers so we can be globally competitive with nations that house their employees in Dickensian workhouses.
Bad food, bad produce, bad medicine, and every time the media talking heads try to explain it away as an isolated incident. With their six-figure incomes they explain to us that it can't be helped and is actually good for us that the tomatoes are all mixed in one box to disguise their country of origin. The chorus of media cohorts sings the swan song for American labor because we need to compete in a global economy. But no, we don't. America is the largest market in the world and if they wish to sell here they need to meet our standards.
This is a class struggle, it has always been a class struggle and it is always going to be a class struggle. It is not a class war but a class massacre, and the only question left is, will you go quietly?