Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Pipe Dream of Ending Trade Deals & Bringing Jobs Back

A big part of Trump's platform is ending trade deals like NAFTA and bringing manufacturing jobs to America.  This sounds good, especially in the Rust Belt, where manufacturing has been suffering since the 80s, but like building a wall across the southern border it's completely impractical.

Think of it this way:  let's say you're a big company like Apple or GM or Nike and you have products being made in China.  You've spent a bunch of money on a plant there and hiring workers.  To bring those jobs back, you'd have to build or refurbish a new plant in the USA.  You'd have to hire all new workers.  And you'd have to pay those workers much more per hour than the Chinese workers and provide them with more benefits.  That's tens of millions of dollars of investment.

And if you're Apple do you think your foreign-owned competition like Samsung is going to do that?  Hell no.  So you're spending a shitload of money and hampering your manufacturing operation for months or even a year as you bring in a new workforce and get them up to speed, which makes your company a lot less profitable.  That in turn makes your shareholders nervous, which leads to losing stock value, which leads to executives losing big bonuses.

So what's the motivation for Corporate America to do this?  The goodness of their hearts?  HA HA HA HA HA!!!  Do you think they'd ever let Trump, Hillary, Gary Johnson, or anyone else set up the sort of tariffs and protectionist policies that could make it unprofitable for them to do business overseas?  Hell no.  And as much as both parties like to give lip service to jobs for the working folks, they care far more about big corporate donations going to them and not the other side.

As soon as a job leaves American borders it's gone.  It ain't coming back.  I mean, again, we've seen this since the 80s, if not sooner in the Midwest and Northeast.  How many textile mills in Maine or upstate New York ever reopened?  None.  Plenty of Big Three plants in the Midwest closed and remain eyesores in cities like Detroit or mostly-vacant lots like in Wixom, which I pass by most every day.  The best analogy is the Ford plant in Wixom was bulldozed and what replaced it?  An RV dealer and a Menard's.  High-paying union jobs with good benefits replaced by minimum wage and commission jobs.  But even if Trump is elected and gets a "good deal" from China you can't just snap your fingers and rebuild that plant and restock it with workers.

I watched 60 Minutes Sunday and they talked to a Trump supporter in Ohio (funnily his wife is a rabid Hillary supporter) who showed the reporter the steel plant where he worked.  It's been out of business for 7 months and already looks like a ruin.  So I hate to tell that guy, but that plant is never going to reopen.  Though maybe in time they'll bulldoze it and put up a Wal-Mart.

The ugly truth no one wants to mention is that there are too many people and too few "good" jobs.  Not just here, but all over the world.  And the problem is only getting worse.  No election is going to fix that.

When I was in middle school, every student council election, candidates would promise they'd get a pop machine in the cafeteria.  Three years later, still no pop machine.  (And then that school was closed, so they probably never did get it.)  That's what jobs are in elections:  everyone promises to bring jobs and no one really does so 2-4 years later we have another crop of candidates promising jobs.  At some point maybe we take the hint?

3 comments:

  1. and even if...if...some of those jobs were to come back, that guy and his trump loving buddies aren't going to be pulling in $30/hr like they were. They will still be unemployed and a newer, younger generation of workers will be working there, making $15/hr, only some of the benefits the previous people got, and probably no union, or else a very weak one. Like you said, corporate America isn't going to do anything from the goodness of its heart. And then there's this whole notion of treating NATO members like we're the Mob...smh. Trump panders to the lowest common denominator and all those idiots who love the idea that he's a tv person on a show they used to watch. :(

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  2. I think most people are aware of this, but a lot of these people are angry about the economy and losing their jobs. These people will probably vote for Trump just because he talks about doing something. Some workers can be compared to an endangered species that when their environment changes they can't adapt and are at risk. Some workers can learn new skills and some perhaps because of age will have a harder time. Anyway, I can't wait until the election is over!

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  3. I don't have much to add to this other than I think you're right.

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