The American worker, taxpayer and consumer is increasingly finding themselves in what they perceive as a no-win situation. Their frustration stems from suddenly realizing what it means to be in a global economy. Understanding that supplying the world with goods and services means lowering not raising your standard of living was not part of the sales contract our politicians sold us about going global! We have sadly learned that corporations can go anywhere to create their products; someone living in St Paul cannot!
We have all heard the horror stories of American workers who have had to train workers in foreign countries how to do the jobs they once held here in America. As I write this, a friend in in Manila training workers there how to do jobs formerly done by her former co-workers in the state of Connecticut. We all laugh when we watch the problems foreign workers have understanding English on the TV program outsourcing! It sadly is not a laughing matter for thousands of Americans, but a grim reminder of the fluidity of all jobs.
The current push to develop new technologies such as sun and wind power will not be immune from foreign competition either. While there may be an initial head start here in America in developing the technologies of these industries, once they are developed, they are as free to go elsewhere as any other industry is. There is no law that guarantees that any corporation that develops technology has to keep whatever production it creates here in America.
So far, being a member of the global economy has in most cases only meant job loss to most Americans. Despite the fact we remain the number one economy of the world, we certainly can see the efforts of countries such as China and India in the rear view mirror, closer than they ever were before. And when countries such as Greece have complex financial failures we here in America are affected as well.
While we are still importing far more than we export, for the American worker living in the global village has few guarantees for employment if you are not willing to work for less. It will not be until labor in the rest of the world beings to organize and become competitive before any true changes will occur. Can this happen? Actually it is. As we have seen the cheapest of labor moves slowly from one country to another. Made in Japan became made in China, became made in Thailand. Yet even with these small pushes, major corporations such as Walmart are still looking for someone to make their products cheaper. As we have learned, the effects of taking four cents off the price of a roll of toilet paper can be global!
(more to come)