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View from Lodi, CA: Jobs Problem Mounting For Bush
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January 16, 2004, 04:00 AM
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An old friend who I`ll name Paul telephoned me. "Every morning when I wake up, I think about the French Revolution.  When will Americans muster up the courage to take our country back?"

My unemployed friend lost his job to an H-1B visa holder. Each day, he says, someone he knows gets fired.

And as Terry Anderson says, "If you ain`t mad, you ain`t paying attention."

On the January 9th CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight Show, the subject was "the jobless recovery." Said Dobbs: "Corporate America`s profits are now surging, but business is investing only modestly and not hiring, at least in this country."

CNN correspondent Peter Viles seconded Dobbs` comment. Said Viles:

"Profits are not trickling down to workers. Backed by worker productivity gains, corporate profits rose an estimated 22 percent last quarter. Investors are riding a new bull market and yet employers are not giving raises and they`re not hiring. In many cases, they are moving jobs overseas."

Ponder these amazing statistics and quotes taken from the Dobbs` telecast:

  • Christmas sales came in better than expected. But retailers cut 38,000 jobs in December on top of the 28,000 jobs they cut in November. They improved their margins by working existing employees harder and harder.

Richard Trumka from the AFL-CIO observed that the few jobs created are either part time (as many as two-thirds of them) and they are inferior when it comes to wages, on average, $2.50 an hour less than the former wage scale.

  • American businesses are not the only ones exporting American jobs. So are a number of state governments. Those governments are using taxpayer dollars to employ workers in India, Mexico, and other countries to do government business.

Citing but one of dozens of instances where state governments have off-shored official business, CNN noted that a call to the welfare office in Washington state would be re-routed to India or Mexico. A total of nineteen states outsource state agency functions.

  • The United States` trade deficit is expected to reach record highs of nearly a half-trillion dollars this year. The imports we buy—about $750 billion—arrive in US ports on foreign-owned ships. Almost all of the top American cargo carriers have sold out to Singapore, Canadian or Dutch shipping companies.

In addition to the trade deficit, in 2004 the US faces a record $400 billion budget shortfall. In a report released by the International Monetary Fund on January 7, economists questioned the wisdom of the Bush tax cuts and warned that the sea of red ink the US is swimming in poses "significant risks" not just for the US but also for the rest of the world.

Predictably, the White House dismissed the IMF report as "alarmist."

  • The American unemployment figure, according to labor leaders, is 14.7 million workers.

And here`s the calculation: 8.4 million officially unemployed, another 1.5 million not working, but not counted as unemployed because they have given up working lately, and another 4.8 million who want a full-time job, but can only find part time work, total 14.7 million.

What is the official Bush Administration response to these devastating figures?

Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, a guest on the Dobbs` program, isn`t really concerned.

In fact, Evans used those exact words: "I`m not concerned about the level of job outsourcing that I hear about."

According to Evans,

"I really think it is all about free trade and open trade and fair trade. And I think that`s healthy in the long run for the American economy and the American workers. I think the more we work to open up trade all around the world, open up markets for our good products and our good workers around the world, it means that our economy will be stronger."

A more sensitive politician, while recognizing his duty to toe the party line, might hedge his position by acknowledging how painful a period this is for unemployed Americans whose jobs have been outsourced.

But that`s not what American politicians are about. They`re about themselves and their false idol, globalism.

Evans takes his cues from President George W. Bush. You`ll note that Bush`s reaction to the 15 million unemployed/under-employed is—a guest-worker program. People from all over the world could come to the U. S. to compete for the few remaining jobs we have.

By the time November rolls around, the economy`s manufacturing segment will have lost jobs for 50 consecutive months—the longest stretch since the Great Depression.

To help you focus on what lost jobs in America means, consider the recent report in the San Jose Mercury News that stated that Bangalore has more working engineers than Silicon Valley.

Take that to the next step. If those Silicon Valley jobs aren`t replaced that translates to lost tax revenue for California, increases in unemployment benefit pay outs, declining property values and a dramatically reduced quality of life.

Today the country evenly divided about whether it would like to see Bush re-elected. Bush is acting confidently—guest worker programs, huge funding to support marriage, space stations, and manned missions to Mars.

Everything sounds great.

But time will tell if jobs—the lack thereof—do Bush in at the polls.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.