Saturday, June 27, 2015

Follow-up article on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Two days after composing my article on TPP I received the latest edition of the Atlantic Magazine. There was one article which intrigued me and had at least some bearing on my original attempt. By the way I only received responses from four people. What follows are the writings of Mr. Derek Thompson whose article was “Technology will soon erase millions of jobs. Could that be a good thing? The End of Work”. He uses Youngtown, Ohio as the basis for his theme. While he describes the devastation correctly, blaming it on technology is wrong. The loss was due to lower cost producers in China and elsewhere, not technology. “The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one of its residents can site with precision: September 18, 1977.” “For much of the 20th Century, Youngtown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a medium income and a home ownership rate that were among the nations highest. But as manufacturing shifted abroad after WWII, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that grey September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. The effect was so severe that a term was coined to describe the fallout: regional depression.” “Youngstown was transformed not only by an economic disruption but also by a psychological and cultural breakdown. Depression, spousal abuse, and suicide all became much more prevalent; the caseload of the area’s mental-health center tripled within a decade. The city built four prisons in the mid-1990s_a rare growth industry. One of the few new downtown construction projects was a museum dedicated to the defunct steel industry.” “Youngtown’s story is America’s story, because it shows that when jobs go away, the cultural cohesion of a place is destroyed.” “The share of prime-age Americans (25to 54 years old) who are working has trended down since 2000. Among men, the decline began earlier; the share of prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the 1970’s.” All in all, about one in six prime-age men today are either unemployed or out of the workplace altogether.” “Since 2000, the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen by almost 5 million or about 30%.” “Most people want to work, and are miserable when they cannot….There is a loss of status, a general malaise and demoralization…. “The transition from labor force to leisure force would likely be particularly hard on Americans, the worker bees of the rich world. Between 1950 and 2012, annual hours worked per worker fell significantly throughout Europe by about 40 % in Germany and the Netherlands but only about 10% in the United States.”….” Germany promotes job sharing. The government gives incentives to cut all workers hours rather than lay off some of them during hard times.” This proves to me that government can get involved to work with industry. Have you ever heard our government get involved in this way? The bulk of this article is the prediction that over time technology will make labor obsolete and how to prepare for those times by providing important things to do which are done for satisfaction not money. To learn more I suggest you go to your local library and read the entire article. It is timely and important. I want to finish this with my own comments about continuing to send our jobs overseas with the additional breakdown of our America culture. It is so obvious to me but to no one else it seems. Never-the-less I will try again. Wouldn’t you rather have Americans fully employed, supporting their families and paying taxes rather than spend countless billions on welfare in all its forms and prisons which appears to be our only growth industry. There are many ways to improve American productivity. Government could assist. Instead of the TTP why not lower business taxes in our country. Why not lower the stringent government edicts which cost great sums and have the effect of making it harder to compete. Why not absolve all industry from paying health care costs. Other countries do. I have read that health care is the highest component in the cost of manufacturing an automobile in America. Onerous law suits with outrageous penalties must be curbed. I don’t understand how any company can survive with this sword hanging over their heads. These are just some of the ways government could aid American industry. There are many more. Why can’t elected officials or the readers of this article understand that we cannot survive? I mentioned previously about our national debt of $18 Trillion. In today’s paper there was an article about China having a surplus of $21 Trillion. I ask you which country is doing the best and which country will overwhelm the other? Jack B. Walters June 27, 2015

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