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View from Lodi, CA: More On Bush`s Job Problem
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January 23, 2004, 04:00 AM
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Last week I wrote about jobs vanishing from America. In my column, I expressed disappointment that two prominent US government officials (including the MOST prominent) who should be gravely concerned—President George W. Bush and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans—apparently have little interest in American workers.

In an economy with nearly 15 million unemployed or underemployed, Bush recently announced plans for a guest worker program. Such a plan would assure that those 15 million would continue unemployed and at the same time jeopardize hundred of thousands of currently employed workers.

Evans, in response to questions about the long-term effect of outsourcing, claimed that critics should sit tight. Everything, predicts Evans, will work out in the end. Fine for him to say, of course, since he has a job.

Unfortunately, I ran out of space last week before I ran out of things to say. So I`m returning to write more about jobs in America while the subject is still, I hope, fresh in your mind. And for good measure, I`ll comment on important related economic issues that President Bush would prefer you not dwell on.

The downward trend in manufacturing jobs continues unabated. The closing on January 8th of the last Levi Strauss &Company plant in San Antonio is symbolic. . Levi Strauss with its150-year old tradition shut its doors and dismissed 800 people. All Levi 501 jeans will now be made in the cheap labor capitals of the world: Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean. 

And bad news in off-shoring news continues also. This week IBM confirmed that it will hire 15,000 people in 2004. But, only 4,500 will work in the US. And 3,000 existing US jobs at IBM will be shifted overseas. The net number of new US jobs at IBM is 1,500; overseas, 13,500 jobs.

To rub salt into the wounds of the displaced, IBM communications directors claim this is "good news" for America. Remember that these corporate shills are under instructions from top management to "sanitize" off-shoring announcements.

The handwriting is on the wall regarding American jobs. To find out who is aware and who is not, I ask people with children in high school or college, "What career do you envision for your child?"

My question was answered in June 2003 by John Challenger, the Chief Executive Officer of Challenger, Gray and Christmas in his statement before the U.S. House Committee on Small Businesses. Here, from his speech titled "The Globalization of White Collar Jobs: Can America Lose These Jobs and Still Prosper?" is a partial list of the jobs Challenger deemed "safe" from outsourcing: golf professional, moviemakers, cooks, and security workers.

Don`t let your kid get out of the house unless he knows how to use a four iron or fry an egg!

Challenger`s not-very-comforting list missed one new and exciting occupation. According to an unsolicited e-mail, I have learned that more than 40,000 Americans make their living buying and selling on e-Bay.

As I asked last week, "Where is the outrage?"

Instead of furiously working to defend American workers, the U.S. Congress has a different agenda. As an example, the U.S. Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans has 160 members. On the other hand, a Congressional Manufacturing Caucus, started in July 2003, has about 50 members

More than three times the number of Congressmen want to advance business opportunities in India (at American workers expense) than promote manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

Bush didn`t have much to say about jobs in his State of the Union Address earlier this week. He tossed off the usual platitudes about wanting "to help Americans gain the skills needed to prosper in our new economy."

Bush had even less to say about the record federal deficit currently projected to reach $500 billion this year. Ditto the national debt that is more than $7 trillion. According to the US National Debt clock, each citizen`s share of that debt (which has increased more than $2 billion everyday since September 30 2003) is nearly $24,000. 

One final financial issue that Bush remained silent on: the size of his re-election war chest. Latest reports are that Bush, unparalleled as a fundraiser, is well on his way to collecting $170 million for his primary campaign. When asked last summer by reporters how he could possibly spend $170 million running unopposed, Bush was very concise. 

"Just watch me," he said.

If only Bush had as clear a vision for the rest of the nation as he does for himself, we might feel better about our future.

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.