4/25/2004 2:06 PM
I have a great concern for the economic future of the United States.
The source of all wealth is production. All other jobs service that
production or service those who benefit from that production. The policies
of our government have been forcing production out of this country with a
double standard that is driving out industries and eliminating jobs. We
will not have a strong economy unless we change those policies. The double
standard I speak of is "Free Trade" on the one hand and "Reverse Tariffs"
on the other hand.
However, at the same time the United States has imposed reverse tariffs
on its own producers. A reverse tariff is one that imposes costs on
producers who produce in this country and are not equally imposed on other
countries. Reverse tariffs come in the form of ever increasing minimum
wage laws, Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, Workers
Compensation Insurance, OSHA, EPA, taxes, fees, bureaucratic red tape, and
many other government regulations that significantly add to the cost of
production. These costs make it impossible for American business to
compete with foreign producers who have little to none of these
liabilities. Add to that a justice system that encourages tort lawyer
extortion and business has an impossible situation.
This double standard forces businesses to move out of this country or
go out of business. It has happened to the textile industry (ever try to
buy clothes made in America), the steel industry, home electronics, most
of agriculture, and many other industries.
4/25/2004 7:05 PM
Thank you for that very lucid and erudite analysis of the problem we currently face regarding our unemployment problem and its relationship to the Free Trade/Reverse Tariff double standard. I totally understand and agree with your assessment. You have exposed the heart of a problem of our own creation.
I would categorize this problem under the heading of "sequella associated with a country's moral demise." I believe it reflects the fact that we have lost our sense of fairness on a number of levels. We want a high quality environment, and good working conditions for ourselves, but we don't appear to have an equal concern about the working conditions and environment of the less fortunate nameless faceless foreign masses. We want high quality products at low prices, so our companies are forced to move offshore to produce those products in an environment of low wages and minimal "regulation overhead". We then complain that we have no jobs. Truly, there is no one forcing the exodus of jobs; it occurs as a result of a multitude of unintentional unrelated decisions. We have fallen victim to shortsighted micromanagement of other issues.
As a result of the export of our manufacturing base, we have a relatively small amount of desirable products which we can sell to the world, and end up purchasing more from the world than we export. The result is a trade deficit, making us a debtor nation, with little productive capacity left to pay off our loans. Thus, we place ourselves at risk of experiencing an economic coup, a capitalistic takeover, a modern day Shylock extraction of the economic pound of flesh from the heart of America. We could be owned by another economy if our debt appears in jeopardy of default.
Your approach to solving the problem is simply to institute fairness and leveling the playing field of international trade, which I support.
In addition to this solution, I have developed a bold new concept for creating the next economic "Killer App" (highly desirable product that everyone wants to buy and sell). I believe if we were to invest in nation-building, the long term payoff for transplanting an infrastructure into a poor nation would be large and secure. I have coupled this concept with the installation of an alternative energy base (solar/wind/biomass/hydrogen). I believe we need to first capitalize our own "alternative energy manufacturing base", begin to install our own alternative energy infrastructure, and then export renewable energy generating capacity to the undeveloped nations of the world which have contracted with us for infrastructure development.
There are of course other elements which must be supplied to create a totally viable national infrastructure. I believe we should contract to supply the entire spectrum of nation-building needs (energy, transportation, communication, ports, water, sanitation, education, law...). After an adequate basic infrastructure has been installed, private industry, financial markets, and entrepreneurship will do the work of bringing the nation up to full first world status. The character of that nation's people is the most defining predictor of that nation's success.
I believe the idle workforce of Oregon would be a perfect resource to meet the labor demand that would suddenly arise if this proposal were to reach a critical level of support. A project of this size will probably enroll the labor pool reserves from the whole of America. As these nations mature, the ultimate payoff for this worldwide plethora of productivity will be a broad spectrum of middle class affluence. The productive engine of the world economy should likewise be able to produce sufficient goods and services to supply the needs of those who cannot contribute to the economy (e.g. the aged, the unwell, the young, and the unskilled). Industrialization can be multiplied almost indefinitely because of the minimal environmental impact from clean energy and the application of energy intensive measures to treat effluents; thereby air, water, and land pollution is minimized. All these benefits will be available because of the multiplicative power of energy and machines. This entire litany of benefits rests on the possibility of tapping the near-limitless energy from the various forms of clean Solar Energy (photovoltaic, wind, biomass).
Living in such a world could be very pleasant, but even then we still must tame each generation's passions, civilize the brute within, and teach him the ways of Righteousness. But that is another discussion.
I thank you for your very stimulating letter.
Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
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