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And another thing

To the Editor:

There are several aspects of the current job situation that people are not talking about it seems.  I will hit some of them for you.

First, machines have been putting people out of work since John Ludd warned about the first mechanical weaving machine in England back in the late 1700s.  Particularly machines used outdoors for excavation, construction, farming, timber harvest, and indoors on assembly lines.  Over the last ten years or more these indoor machines are being run by computers to make everything from small consumer goods to cars and trucks.  And now computers (GPS and auto-steer) are showing up on farming equipment (tractors, combines, spraying equipment) that may displace the human operator.  This trend will continue to displace human laborers, particularly since machines run by computers are building the robots that are displacing humans on automotive assembly lines and other places!

Most people complain about illegal immigrants entering the country and taking jobs from Americans, farming and factory jobs for the most part that Americans won't do for the low wages the illegals will accept.  But legal immigrants are taking many jobs for the same reason - they can get a work visa and will work for half to 2/3 of what an American would demand for the same job.  Engineers come to mind.  We have no shortage of trained engineers.  We only have a shortage of trained engineers who will work for peanuts!  Add to this the number of service jobs and engineering and architectural jobs that are being outsourced so that owners can cut their labor, benefit and retirement costs to PUT MORE MONEY INTO THEIR OWN POCKETS!  That's why I have ZERO sympathy for them IF they get their taxes raised!!!  Additionally as we lose manufacturing jobs we not only need FEWER engineers, but fewer bankers to make loans to make things.

Another long term problem is that when owners bust unions or beat down wages and benefits for labor so that they can enhance their own incomes, there is less disposable income in this country to purchase the quantities of consumer goods to keep the economy rolling.  Just as the rich cannot pay "all the taxes," which they don't, they cannot buy enough corn flakes, kitchen utensils, toilet paper, clothing, and other consumer goods either!  As Henry Ford said, employees need to make enough to buy the things they are making, or buy the things rich owners would like to sell in large volume.  No surplus wages, no massive consumer spending!  No one wants to talk about this and the fact that CEOs and other management make anywhere from 20 times as much to 600 times as much as their average blue collar employee (depending on the company in question) NOT COUNTING THE CEO'S BONUS!  With real wages lagging the rising cost of living, even gasoline price spikes also cut into consumer spending to the detriment of everyone from the local convenience store owner to Wal*Mart.

The excessive defense spending is also contributing to the dire job situation.  We spend more on defense than the rest of the world COMBINED, but don't have the jobs or economy to show for it.  The reason is two-fold.  Most defense weapons and materials and services are over-priced.  And, once the defense contractor employee spends his/her paycheck the economic benefit of the thing produced rapidly goes to zero, even considering maintenance and repair.  Schools, teachers, roads, water and sewer systems, bridges to somewhere, electrical grid upgrades, and even libraries produce a lasting economic BENEFIT that more than offsets their cost.  Bombs, bullets, airplanes, tanks, and battle ships provide ZERO economic benefit after they are put into service.  The companies and our congressmen have made a concerted effort to put defense contractors or subcontractors in as many congressional districts as possible to make it difficult for Congress to cut the defense budget to free up money for real job creation or health care.  That is why we are in constant need, at least by Republicans and some Democrats, to be on a constant wartime footing and to have an enemy to fight somewhere to keep the tax dollars pouring into those companies in all of those congressional districts.

Too many people have the mistaken belief that wars are good for the economy based on what they no about the Great Depression and WW2, but what they don't know is that just before the war ended we started shutting down those weapons factories and sending workers home.  A major recession followed WW2 that no one talks about.  Only when the owners of those weapons factories converted them to making consumer goods for us and the rest of the destroyed world did our economy take off, even with higher corporate tax rates, higher capital gains tax rates, and a 90% top marginal tax rate on wages!  We went through then what the Chinese are going through now!  An ex-soldier could work and his wife could stay at home till about 1975 when things started to change - the desire for bigger homes, more toys, and college for the kids forced two income households.

Do you recall that when the bridge fell in Minnesota, and those people were killed, that a CNN reporter stood in front of that bridge and said, "The American Society of Civil Engineers say it would take $9 billion dollars to get all of our bridges up to safety standards, but we don't have the money."  When I saw that I yelled at my TV, "That is one month's worth of tax dollars being wasted in Iraq, you IDIOT!!!"  On top of this, before Bush's tax cuts of 2001 the American Society of Civil Engineers said it would take $1.3 trillion to get ALL of our suffering, over used infrastructure upgraded to meet our needs.  Instead of putting Americans to work doing something useful for Americans, Bush cut taxes to the tune of $1.3 AND started his idiotic, unnecessary war in Iraq which has cost us over $1 TRILLION in direct appropriations and another trillion or more in indirect costs, like replacing destroyed weapons and replacing ammunition, taking care of wounded soldiers till they die, and the interest on that cost since every penny of it was BORROWED!  Can you imagine how hot the economy would be right now if Bush had not spent our tax dollars on destroying then rebuilding Iraq, and had put millions of Americans who had lost their factory job to work doing something of lasting economic benefit to US???  I would have demanded a third term for Bush.  Instead I think he and the rest of his administration, and most of the Republicans in Congress, should be locked up in Gitmo for jeopardizing our country by crushing us with deficits and debt THAT WAS AVOIDABLE, letting our big banks and corporations and Wall Street get away with robbery, and for crimes against humanity!

But the 800 pound gorrilla that no one wants to talk about is "free trade."  In that period from 1955 till 1975, when we were properous and almost everyone was better off than now, real wages were higher than now, but the greedy rich in this country could not stand that or that more of that prosperity wasn't going into their pockets.  So, they began a serious effort of busting the unions to beat down wages and benefits.  That worked but not completely to their satisfaction, so they came up with a new con - free trade.  Free trade eliminated the tariffs and restrictions on the import of foreign made goods of all kinds - MADE BY DIRT CHEAP FOREIGN LABOR, AND WITH NO RETIREMENT BENEFITS OR ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS TO COMPLY WITH.  Owners told labor, either give up your retirement, or your health insurance or your high wages or we will shut the place down.  Of course, labor refused, so owners kept their promise, shut down their factories and shipped in the
consumer goods of all kinds from Mexico, Southeast Asia, and CHINA for a fraction of the labor cost!  People talk constantly about the jobs lost since January 2008, but IGNORE the 7 million or more manufacturing jobs lost from the time Bush TOOK the White House, till he smiled and left on January 21, 2009.  Recall also that Bush told us from his 2002 recession till he demanded the bank bailout, with no questions or strings attached, that the fundamentals are sound and the economy is strong?  Those jobs are not likely to ever come back, so why do so many people think the problem will end when banks finally resume lending and consumers return to their "buy now, pay later (maybe) because my neighbor has one" spending habits???

One other thing has a recurring impact on jobs and the economy - the price of energy, primarily oil.  Every time the oil companies or speculators, or hedge fund managers run the price up it will cost us higher manufacturing and shipping costs and ultimately JOBS!  The long term threat that causes us to drill in enviromentally unsafe areas, or take other desperate measures, like costly military intrusion into other people's countries, to secure our access to THEIR OIL to support our addiction, is the growing population.  If you think we have energy problems now with 300 million Americans and 7 billion worldwide, wait till we have 400 million Americans and 10 billion worldwide!  Another problem most people don't want to face.


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