Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just What America Needs to Recover - Union Leaders at the Wheel

You would think, during one of the longest peacetime recessions in history, union leaders would be at the front of the crowd, cheering on the free market that gave birth to them.

You would be wrong. Or as the late, great Johnny Carson might say, “Wrong, spreadsheet-breath!”

Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, writes in the Detroit this piece whose title says all the right things: Stop outsourcing to save Michigan Jobs, middle class.

He starts off this way:

Outsourcing. Isn't it time to halt the hollowing of our economy and employ smart policies to rebuild American manufacturing and keep good jobs here?

He then veers wildly from the road of economic prosperity by spouting the tired, worn-out clichés that greedy corporations have been more than happy to ship American jobs offshore in their bloodthirsty quest for profit.

For three decades, American laws governing business have followed the lure of ever-lower labor costs, cheap debt, weak environmental regulations and lobbyist-written free trade pacts. It's the result of a profits-over-people strategy that caught on like a fad, and it's the underlying contributor to our Great Recession.

Then, like a drunken driver, he manages to find the correct lane, but only for a moment.

It turns out that cheap, offshore labor makes for lousy consumers, because people without good-paying jobs can't support our consumption-driven economy.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, we were told that only the machining and assembly jobs were heading offshore. Yet in the last five years alone, we lost the jobs of 1 million scientists, software developers and high-tech researchers. Those were the jobs we were supposed to keep. But R&D follows the factory floor.

The bottom line is this: Long term, no economy of our size can be sustained if we don't invest in jobs, build things here and insist on a level playing field. That's why America needs a strong national industrial policy to rebuild, strengthen and modernize our manufacturing capacity. We need to get rid of the notion that we can't compete in the global economy.

Then we hear the tires thumping against the lane markers again…

We need to pursue with urgency opportunities in green technologies, high-end manufacturing and infrastructure. In Michigan, tens of thousands of jobs have been created through the Recovery Act, which has supported clean energy projects to develop a sustainable, green work force. Michigan now leads the way with advanced battery research and production for hybrid cars, with over a dozen companies investing here, creating tens of thousands of jobs.

Projects like this create a virtuous chain of innovation by spurring private investment and spin-off benefits. A relatively small, but key, federal investment in these projects makes the difference.

Hmm, there’s that word "virtuous" again. Now where have I heard that word recently? Oh yeah, President Obama’ recent press conference and the back yard confab where he touted his efforts to turn the economy around, which has resulted in record poverty levels in only eighteen months. Helluva job there, Barry.

It should be common knowledge amongst my two readers that “green jobs” are as much of a myth as was “global warming”. Spain proved that for every green job the government created, 2.5 regular jobs were lost. And that “small, but key federal investment” in green technology is precisely what’s wrong with it. We’ve been working on this technology in the free market for years with little success. Private companies have poured great sums into research for solar panels and the like with no marketable results. In short, we’ve already proven that green tech needs to mature in order to be effective.

Until that such time as it becomes effective, there are traditional methods of energy generation like nuclear power. However, these efforts are under constant attack from radical environmental groups seeking not clean energy, but a crippling of our country economically. It seems to be working quite well.

Mr. Gaffney concludes,

Without a massive investment to create jobs, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, it may take as long as 11 years for the economy to recover the jobs necessary to lower unemployment to pre-recession levels.

He speaks, of course, of the “investment” of our tax dollars, something that the free market would normally do on its own, thus creating jobs and tax revenue instead of draining it.

This trip is starting to become more than a little dangerous. What Mr. Gaffney needs is a designated driver. What he has is a passenger who is far more inebriated than he is: Richard Trumka.

If they don’t manage to wreck the car, you just know he’ll be the one who starts cussing out the police officer who pulls them over. That’ll help.

We know what Rep. John Boehner will do if he gets the Speaker’s gavel – because he’s told us! He’ll privatize and cut Social Security, protect the corporations that send our jobs overseas, slash taxes for the super-rich. There will be no more extensions of unemployment benefits. No jobs legislation. No infrastructure spending. No Davis Bacon. No retirement security. No health care.

Trumka looks as though he may hurl any second now…

That’s why I say to the hand-wringers, to the naysayers, to the detractors, to the Party of No: If you don’t believe in America, get out of the way!

Oops, they just ran into a fire hydrant. Quick, drink this six-pack before the cops get here.

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