Yankee Utopians in a Chinese Century: Wall Street Orthodoxy and the loss of the US Manufacturing base.
Before I continue, let me qualify something about the individual that’s being quoted in this post, conservative commentator, Pat Buchanan. There’s little doubt in my mind that Buchanan is a racist. I’ve arrived at this conclusion from his books, numerous op-eds as well as his conduct on MSNBC. He’s the type of racist that is a supremacist and it would not surprise me if he were a KKK sympathizer to be perfectly honest. Notwithstanding that, he’s not the sort of individual who one should just dismiss on that basis alone as he does make some excellent points that I find myself in agreement with on occasion and this is one of those occasions. Here’s an excerpt of a article he wrote:
And how has America fared in the new century?
One in every three manufacturing jobs we had in 2000, nearly 6 million, vanished. Some 50,000 U.S. factories shut down. We have run trade deficits totaling $5 trillion since NAFTA passed. The real wages of working Americans have been stagnant for a decade.
While China has resumed her 12 percent growth rate, the United States, with 25 million unemployed or underemployed, appears headed for a double-dip recession.
Yet, even as the end of America’s tenure as the world’s first manufacturing power was being announced, The Wall Street Journal admonished us to keep our eyes on the prize: a new world order where it does not matter who produces what or where.
“The pursuit of some ideal global ‘balance’ in trade and capital flows is an illusion. … World leaders would do better to worry less about (trade) imbalances and more about whether their own nations are pursuing policies that contribute to global prosperity.”
There you have it — the conflict in visions between us.
For decades, America’s leaders have followed the Wall Street Journal ideology. We put a mythical world economy before our own economy. We put “global prosperity” before national interest. We forced our workers to compete, in their own country, against the products of foreign laborers earning a tenth of their pay. And we let in tens of millions of semi-skilled and unskilled immigrants, legal and illegal, to take the jobs of our countrymen.
And the Chinese? They put China first, second and third.
And who won the decade? And who is winning the future?
Again, Buchanan is a well known “old school” conservative who’s sounding very much like a liberal in the excerpt above and he makes a very solid point about the Chinese—they put China, first second and third. The fact of the matter is that global prosperity isn’t really about that as much as the prosperity of those who are constantly on the prowl for profits by outsourcing manufacturing to the lowest cost labor markets while displacing workers at home. (One of the things that will be a a casualty of the current problems we face is the old political paradigm of “liberal” and “conservative”. Increasingly we’re going to find folks not only switching sides, but also having views that are an amalgamation of liberal, conservative and everything in between).
This post is also a continuation of a debate I’m having with my good friend, Constructive Feedback about the loss of the US manufacturing base along with a few other things that have led to our current economic malaise. Here are his observations on the same issue:
You mention the loss of the US manufacturing base and the jobs that were lost to China etc. Do you believe that the increases in the COSTS OF PRODUCTION in these prime spaces that are now called “The Rust Belt” had anything to do with this departure?
The US South is winning many large new production plants because it offers a far less hostile and costly center of operations for business. Just look at the articles regarding the US and foreign owned firms with domestic manufacturing plants that are shifting away from MI/OH and CA down to Southern states. Certainly the South is not “China”.
Well, we’ve got two conservative views on the same issue, but who’s right here? Is Wall Street orthodoxy and the mad rush towards “global prosperity” the main issue behind some of the economic problems or are the unions the culprit by driving up wages and benefits?