Yeah, And Where Are Your Kids Going To Work?

by James Glaser
October 16, 2003

Today we have less good paying manufacturing jobs in the United States than we have had at any time since 1958. In the last three years alone we have lost 2.7 million of them. These jobs and in many cases all the equipment those workers used, are gone for ever. Whole factories are being shipped overseas and those jobs will never be here again.

Representative Bernie Sanders, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit wrote a report titled "Free Trade Means America's Biggest Export is its Jobs."

Sanders writes, "It didn't take a genius to predict that unfettered free trade with China would be a disaster. With Chinese employees available at 50 cents an hour, and with the ability to bring their Chinese products back into this country tariff-free, why wouldn't American corporations shut down their plants in this country and move to China."

Motorola got rid of 42,900 American jobs and went right over and invested $3.4 billion in China. General Electric threw out tens of thousands of American workers and with $1.5 billion, built 13 factories in China.

What these American corporations like about moving jobs overseas, is not only the low pay, but if workers try to stand up for their rights and form unions, they go to jail. In third world countries American corporations "don't have to waste money on environmental safeguards."

The American middle class in headed down hill. In the last thirty years American workers have lost much of the gains their parents and grand parents fought for. As Representative Sanders writes, "The average American worker is working longer hours for lower wages and most middle class families now require two breadwinners to pay the bills." Entry level workers without a college education, have seen real wages drop more than 20 percent in the past twenty five years.

In 1979 I was taking home $408.00 per week working heavy construction up in International Falls. I used the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis inflation calculator and found that, "if I bought $408 dollars worth of goods and services in 1979, those same goods and services would cost $1031.80 today."

The problem today is that our children find it harder and harder to get good paying jobs. Some construction workers in the big cities are making good wages, but around here they are in the eight to fifteen dollar per hour range. I see many men and women with experience and lots of skill working for less than twelve dollars a hour. So workers today are taking home less than I was making back in 1979 and they can buy less than half as much as I could with their pay check.

Sure there are exceptions and some young people are making lots of money, but are their jobs secure or are their employers looking to send that job overseas too? Two workers in a family today can make more money than one worker back in 1979 did, but at what cost to the family and community.

Parents today suffer from long hours at work and their children suffer too. Look at any volunteer groups in your community and you will see that 90% of those helping out are retired. Working parents are just too beat to put time into community projects and everyone looks to the government for help. Government help means higher taxes, which means a lower take home pay check. That means more hours of work to buy the same.

America is heading down hill for most workers. Yes, the rich and powerful are getting richer and more powerful. Remember, over three million jobs have "Gone South" in the last three years and when they do come back, they will be different jobs paying much less of a wage. Corporations and those that have the most to gain will do well with this repeated cycle, but our children won't.

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