Friday, October 14, 2011

Jobs News

The same day that the Senate defeated Obama's jobs bill, they passed his free trade agreement with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Like other recent free trade agreements, this one will probably cause a decline in the number of American manufacturing jobs. In fact, the bill anticipates this job loss. It provides for benefits for workers who lose their jobs. The supposedly good news is that the agreement may cause an increase in some farm employment here. Oh boy. Wasn't the shift from agricultural work to industrial work what created an economic expansion and improvement of living conditions – what is called the industrial revolution? How are we benefiting as a country by moving backward on the path of development?

The news the next day was that UAW members rejected a proposed contract, in large part because it continued the practice of paying newly hired workers about half as much as workers who have been on the job longer. The two-tier wage practice was not designed to compensate more skilled workers. It is just there because the automakers realized they can now hire people for less money than they used to pay them. If it seems to you that people in America are making less money these days, this explains why: they are making less money! Anyone who has ever worked in a factory or almost any other workplace knows that there is nothing more dispiriting than finding out you are being paid less than someone else to do the same work.

In a related story the same day, Gap announced it is closing retail stores in the U.S. and opening stores in China. With the U.S. economy hurting, U.S. consumers are buying cheaper jeans at discount stores, not higher quality jeans at Gap.

While campaigning over the years, Obama has frequently said that if you are stuck in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. He also said that if your bus driver runs the bus into a ditch, fire the driver. Any day now we can expect him to issue retractions.

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