To add credibility to rhetoric, and to provide a measure of substance to minor accomplishments, politicians often cite relatively insignificant numbers and data to boost support. The most recent claim of success is being lauded today in Schenectady, N.Y., birthplace of the General Electric Co., to showcase a new GE deal with India, and to announce a restructured presidential advisory board to focus on increasing employment and competitiveness.
Although it’s true that each success story begins with a first step, ever how small, under present circumstances, giant steps are needed, and needed quickly. The GE deal is a relatively small deal where big deals are needed across the board. While it’s certainly true that an honest effort is better than no effort at all, misdirected efforts can actually overshadow and distract from efforts aimed at the core issues. Avoiding, or not addressing core issues, cannot be justified by minor accomplishments which are opposite to sound solutions.
In today’s world, and certainly on the global stage of international commerce, contracts and trade agreements between countries are beneficial and necessary. This is true concerning not only governments, but concerning international corporations as well. But the main sticking point, and certainly one worth taking into consideration, is how will relatively small contracts and agreements with foreign countries, affect the overall concerns with foreign trade, and especially trade imbalances? Without a doubt, our foreign trade imbalances are a testament of economic misfortunes and hardships here at home.
There’s no doubt that we have the expertise, technology, and resources, to keep production and industries here in the U.S. Yet, we find it necessary to out-source production and services to foreign economies, all at the expense of our own economy. While the news concerning GE is good news for GE, it may not be good news to our economy as a whole. The GE deal could possibly add to our already run-away trade deficit at some point in the future.
A good place to start for the president’s advisory board, with increasing employment and competitiveness, would be to concentrate on increasing production on American soil. Increasing employment would be easier than structuring a competitive workforce. In reality, for us to be competitive in the global market place, we would have to drastically reduce our living standards. Increases in employment would come rapidly if we demanded fair, equal, and balanced foreign trade.
As long as we continue to outsource production and services, and refuse to revamp and amend current foreign trade agreements and policies, it’s doubtful that any advisory board can solve our employment crisis. In addition, at some point in time, we must protect and keep American technology here at home.
From former G.E. CEO and now Obama economic adviser Jeffrey Immelt's history with G.E., clearly that classic offshore outsourcing is Good for America is being touted instead of creating jobs in the United States.
General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has fooled the media and the White House into believing that he cares about American manufacturing jobs. I have a hard time imagining a worse pick, unless Obama would have tapped Immelt's predecessor Jack Welch, who seemed fine with the idea of putting factories on barges in search of the lowest wages in the world.
Let's look at GE's jobs record. You would have difficulty finding a company that has outsourced more jobs and closed more American factories than GE. While they have slashed their American workforce to fewer than 150,000, GE has dramatically expanded its global presence, now employing over 300,000 workers worldwide. Yes, GE has brought a trickle of jobs back to the U.S. over the past two years, but it still outsources more than it insources. And those executives at GE are not clueless--they realize the value of good publicity as it announces new hires at a time like this. But they do not devote nearly the same amount of publicity to their factory closings.
Immelt's prescription for boosting manufacturing harkens back to the days of bloodletting as a medical procedure -- bad policy with consistently poor results:
- In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club in 2009, Immelt berated "Buy American" policies while acknowledging that GE lived under domestic preference regimes in China, France, and other nations. In Immelt's mind, it is fine for China and France to require to GE to make what it sells in their nations, but it's not OK for America to do the same.
- Immelt essentially rules out any enforcement of our trade laws in his Washington Post op-ed today through a spurious claim that distorts the issue. So China can cheat all it wants, and Immelt wants us to do nothing. Trade enforcement is not "erecting barriers," as Immelt alleges. Rather, trade enforcement is about removing distortions from the free market. Immelt reveals his true stripes with this ridiculous assertion. It's a dangerous statement, and it demands an immediate and forceful rebuke from the White House.
- Immelt supported two of the most disastrous economic policies of the post-World War II era: financial deregulation and China's entry into the World Trade Organization with few, if any, consequences for breaking the rules.
The result of policies Immelt has supported: one-third of our manufacturing workforce gone in a decade. 50,000 shuttered factories. At least $245 billion in real wage and salary losses for manufacturing workers. Record trade deficits with China. In short, our worst decade in manufacturing history--by most measures even worse than the Great Depression.
We must remember that we have a rapidly growing population that needs, and will need, opportunities to be self-supporting. At present, those opportunities are far and few between. It’s great for GE and its’ employees, that they have a contract with India. But, what really would be great is “IF” companies like GE contracted here at home, and provided jobs on American soil. Our economy should not be based on foreign contracts, foreign trade, nor on foreign debt.