A depressing piece in the Sunday New York Times re-explained why the U.S. is losing huge numbers of manufacturing jobs, but it didn’t mention how we can hope to reverse this trend if our biggest corporations continue to work with governments that stop at nothing to steal those jobs.
The writers described how the late Steve Jobs of Apple, in a tizzy over the possibility that its iPhone might not appear in stores on schedule, turned to a Chinese factory. This is how the job began to get done:
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the [Apple] executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”
The writers gloss over the fact that the “speed and flexibility” of production is only possible because manufacturing centers in China receive unlimited support from the Chinese government and treat workers only slightly better than Nazis treated the slave laborers who built their V2 rockets.
No light is shed in the NYT on strategies for fighting back against totalitarian countries that subsidize production centers and mistreatment of workers. (For more on mistreatment, see “Apple and Unbridled Capitalism” in Daily Kos.)
Similarly, Robert Reich offers no solutions in an article today regarding the migration of jobs to Southeast Asia. He writes:
GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt chairs Obama’s council on work and competitiveness. I’d wager that as an American citizen, Immelt is concerned about working Americans. But as CEO of GE, Immelt’s job is to be concerned about GE’s shareholders. They aren’t the same.
GE has also been creating more jobs outside the United States than in it. A decade ago, fewer than half of GE’s employees were non-American; today, 54 percent are.
“Concerned”? Reich notes the need for more investment in education, R&D and infrastructure, and that the American government isn’t working on these problems, largely because of the lobbying power of the large corporations, many of which pay virtually no taxes.
Reich and the NYT ignore the hypocrisy of corporate chiefs and their stooges in Congress. These people don’t like “big government” in America because they don’t want to pay taxes, abide by environmental and safety regulations, or treat workers decently, but they love gigantic, oppressive government in China, because that’s where their profit margins are highest.
Will Barack Obama address the problem of lost jobs caused by greedy corporations in a genuinely substantive way in his State of the Union address tonight? I hope you don’t think that’s a serious question.