By Joe Guzzardi
June 27, 2011
Last Friday, President Obama made another in his series of meaningless speeches about job creation. Appearing in my hometown of Pittsburgh PA, Obama announced that he would boost employment through a $500 million partnership with business, government and universities. This is a cruel hoax to play on millions of jobless Americans.
Called the Advanced Marketing Partnership, Obama’s new initiative will be headed by Dow Chemical Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield. Their goal is to help U.S. companies discover, develop, produce and distribute products twice as fast as they currently do.
Manufacturing revenue no longer dominates the U.S. economy, accounting for about 11.7 percent of gross domestic product and roughly 9 percent of total employment. According to Liveris, U.S. industrial policy has long been marked by “benign neglect and atrophy.” He added: "You have to work with government to understand what’s really causing us to be noncompetitive in certain sectors.”
Liveris’ language is misleading. Manufacturing has not been the victim of “benign neglect” but rather an aggressive government and corporate agenda, encouraged by both Republican and Democratic administrations, of outsourcing jobs and importing foreign-born workers through non-immigrant work visas. Technically “temporary,” these visas are renewable for a period long enough to allow a worker to change his status to permanent resident. Visas include work permits that enable foreign-born nationals to compete for jobs with American citizens.
The relaxed enforcement of visa requirements and labor standards allow certain employers to use foreign workers as a continuous cheap labor source, subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, thereby keeping downward pressure on wages. The result is fewer job opportunities and a depressed pay scale for all U.S. workers. Americans can’t survive a double barreled attack on jobs that sends them overseas and, simultaneously, imports workers.
The painful reality, obvious to all, is that the U.S. is no longer a manufacturing society. Even campaigning politicians know the truth but dare not mention it. Lost jobs never return. Outsourcing can’t be reversed, even if Obama had the will to do it.
Consumers know from their trips to the mall during the last decade that clothing, electronics, household appliances will be built in Asia for the duration—unless a location that pays its workers less can be found.
The handful of U.S. jobs created during the last several years are in the low paying hospitality or temporary office worker sector. Although technically these employees have a job, many barely earn in a decade what it costs to operate Air Force One, a sum recently reported by the U.S. Military at $181,757 per hour.
Whatever jobs the Advanced Marketing Partnership may create, and my guess is that they will be infinitesimally few, this will have no impact on the broad scale unemployment rate. Corporate America could care less. For years, companies’ foreign sales have grown faster than their U.S. sales and they’ve continued to create more jobs abroad than here at home.
Americans easily see through puff ball concepts like the Advanced Marketing Partnership. A more restrictive policy on non-immigrant visas would immediately increase the supply of jobs and is a major solution to the employment crisis that Obama should pursue.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns—mostly about immigration and related social issues – since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns have frequently been syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at [email protected].