Free Trade Is For Suckers
Yesterday's Cleveland Plain Dealer featured an interesting editorial by John Colm, the president of WIRE-Net, a local organization designed to promote manufacturing. As Colm noted, "China massively subsidizes [its] exports to the United States through currency manipulation, support to state-owned industries and other means" and "Most of the world has consumption or value-added taxes that . . .are rebated when companies export products and are charged to U. S. companies that export to those countries, like a tariff." In other words, only the United States clings to the ideology of free trade, while other countries take the manufacturing jobs that used to be ours. Up to 97% of the jobs being created in the United States are in sectors of the economy not subject to foreign competition. As a result, America has gone from a country whose economy was based on Americans making products for other Americans to an economy that will increasingly be based on Americans emptying each others' bedpans. (That's what "service jobs" in "health care" means).
Colm also noted that "Germany and other countries focus on technical and manufacturing training geared toward their industry champions. Apprenticeships are used widely across industries and train high-quality workers beginning in high school." It would indeed seem to make sense to have an educational system that provides technical training to the majority of students who should not go to college. But that's not how the Obama Adminstration sees it, which instead is busily promoting the destructive fantasy of universal college education. It is easy to see why this fantasy is popular with such reliable Democratic constituencies as the professoriat and the college bureaucracy, since it will enable them to grow even richer. But it is much harder to see what it does for the students and their families who will end up going deep into debt to pay for a devalued college degree that, in an economy emptied of manufactruing jobs, will likely lead only to a low-wage service job, perhaps in the burgeoning bedpan emptying sector.