Farewell American Jobs -
Or Ideologues Make
Terrible Businessmen
By Ken McCarthy <>
MUST reading for labor and anyone who cares about America's future
Here are some passages that jump out from Eammon Fingleton's new, and mostly buried, new book "In Praise of Hard Industries." It lays out in graphic detail the consequences of the Reagan-Bush-Clinton program that has gutted the US's industrial capacity over the last twenty years:
* "As estimated by the postindustrial economic commentator Michael Rothschild, up to 20 percent of the American workforce will be marginalized by the move to an information-based economy. That amounts to a shocking 25 million people - or roughly four times the total number of jobless workers in the US as of 1998! Yet Rothschild and his cohorts see the sacrifice as acceptable."
* "As recorded in the 1998 edition of "Japan: An International Comparison," the average hourly wage was $21.01 in Japan, $14.79 in Germany, and $12.37 in the United States."
* "Gilbert Williamson, president of NCR: 'I was asked the other day about the United States' competitiveness and I replied that I don't think about it at all. We at NCR think of ourselves as a globally competitive company that happens to be incorporated in the United States.'"
* "The manufacturing-based economies of Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, and Japan not only do better than America's postindustrial economy in terms of export prowess but at the same time provide the widest possible range of top-paying jobs for all workers at ALL LEVELS of capability." (emphasis mine.)
Fingleton does the best job I've seen so far of demolishing the following loony postindustrial, "free market" myths which dominate the business press from Wired to the Wall Street Journal: manufacturing doesn't matter, balance of trade payments don't matter, exports don't matter, the Internet is going to transform the rules of the world economy, software is a worthy industry for the US to stake its future on, laissez-faire trade policies automatically will lead us - godlike - to divine results, and more.
As the Japanese and others have correctly perceived, like it or not, business is war and if you want your people to eat, you better have a plan that is somewhat more sophisticated than "we'll let the god of war take us where he will."
I sent this to Fingleton who in his book took NAM to task for its recent highly inaccurate reporting of the state of American manufacturing:
Your comments on NAM struck a chord. I wonder if you are aware that they are one of the single most influential forces in the US news media and have been for many decades. This is according to both Edward Bernays, the father of modern corporate public relations AND George Seldes, the grandfather of US press critics. Talk about a spread!
You might find this book interesting: "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy" by the late Alex Carey who was a lecturer on industrial relations at the University of New South Wales.
It documents the obsessive, decades long media war against American workers waged by NAM and other industrial associations.
Here's one indication of how far back it goes: "In 1913, a committee of the US Congress was established to investigate the mass dissemination of propaganda by the the National Association of (influence) legislation by influencing public opinion."
Reading your book, I can't help but conclude that the anti-labor forces in this country have finally won the ultimate victory by gutting our industrial base and sending our manufacturing jobs overseas. As the Romans were accused of doing by one of the chieftains who resisted them, their idea of peace is to turn the world into a desert.
In this case the "desert" is the devastated condition of American manufacturing and an economy held up, for the time being at least, by little more than smoke, mirrors, and quote screens (which by the way, we are no longer capable of manufacturing ourselves.) The US is, as you document in your book, woefully unprepared for the 21st century. Sadly, it is the workers of this country and their children who are going to pay the price for this while our "captains of industry" insulated by obscene CEO-to-worker wage discrepancies continue to laugh all the way to the bank.


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