The Disintegration of America’s Wealth
In 1950 one out of every three American workers was employed in the manufacturing industry. America was the manufacturing superpower of the world, and our middle class was both booming and enjoying a high standard of living. We were the richest and most productive country in the world.
In 1994 only one in eight jobs (12.5%) were in manufacturing. In 2014 the U.S. only employed one in twelve (8.3%) Americans in manufacturing.
In just 20 years, America has done nothing to reverse this trend. In fact, we’ve accelerated it. America has put in place some of its most self-devastating policy decisions (NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA, KORUS, etc.). In the end, this country has almost completely converted from a self-sufficient sovereign state, capable of manufacturing what it needs to sustain and protect itself, to a country of servants: serfs, working at the behest of foreign employers or engaged in the sales, marketing, and distribution of foreign-made goods, working at the discretion of foreigners, for wages they determine, and forced to pay their prices for needed goods. This is the definition of a servant.
A country that ends up producing little of value will have little to consume at home and little to trade abroad, and will have a low standard of living. The way this country was built was by developing world-leading industries and dominating the markets for products that we invented. We conceded that we are instead going to exist by selling our assets and eliminate most of our ability to produce for ourselves. No country can sustain itself under such policies.
From 1994-2004, manufacturing was the second fastest job-losing sector in our economy (second only to agricultural employment). From 2004-2014, the government predicts that most of the employment growth will come from retail, health care, leisure and hospitality, government jobs, and “professional and business services.”
The high-paid workers of this country consist of salespeople, attorneys, doctors, and managers. We did not build a superpower on the heels of these professions. We did it with manufacturing.
Many say that we are shipping jobs overseas because they are too low-paying or too rudimentary. Anyone who has worked in a factory operating a million-dollar piece of equipment can tell you the satisfying difference between being forced to work in a restaurant as a waiter and creating an actual American product. An American-made product? Seems almost fantastical, doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be.
Why do we send factory jobs overseas to replace them with jobs in retail and hospitality? Factories sustain communities. Retail and hospitality enrich absentee corporations and shareholders. Offshoring and outsourcing strip us of technology, taxes, profits, and career opportunities. Why would America voluntarily choose the path that leads away manufacturing jobs, which pay much more on average than service jobs?
Some other countries, like Japan, pay wages as high as or higher than America because their manufacturing is capital- and knowledge-intensive, requiring fewer workers per unit of output. In addition, other countries like China that pay wages as low as one-tenth of ours do not have the same standard of living as we do. Their goods cost a fraction of what they cost here in America; therefore it is not possible to compare the wages on an absolute basis. Can you imagine a world where we not only consume our own products, but also do so with real wealth and not debt?
Many people also say education is paramount to reversing our place in the world. They say that not enough Americans are being trained for engineering, science, or production occupations. There is no point in educating people when there are no jobs – these industries are being systematically and predatorily destroyed by foreign-subsidized competition producing and operating both externally and domestically.
Our country’s economic vitality is propped up by foreign loans to our government and the foreign subsidized consumption of our incredulous trade deficit. Such tactics cannot last. We are living in a fool’s paradise.