In search of cheap labor
October 3, 2008 · Updated 12:38 AM
Henry Ford raised wages to $5 per day with the explanation that this would enable the employees to purchase what they built. That was nearly 80 years ago.
Now we have progressed to the point where the workers who make our shoes and shirts in third-world countries are not paid wages sufficient to buy even those items. Some progress!
Our presidential hopefuls who "debated" in Albuquerque have expressed concern that U.S. jobs are fleeing to Mexico and need to be reclaimed by scrapping NAFTA. Presumably the thinking is that after jobs are retrieved, we can glance over the Mexican border and say, "I'm all right, Jack."
It has long been an American tradition that when your neighbor is experiencing difficulty, the community pitches in to help them back on their feet. That spirit has served this nation well and established the basis of a strong American economy.
The proponents of international trade envision a world economy that reflects the American experience. This goal is not one which is accomplished overnight, however, due in part to the huge differences in living standards and employment opportunities.
Our southern neighbor is just now emerging from over 50 years of one-party rule. The administration of President Vicente Fox is engaged in a mammoth struggle to overcome economic ravages caused in part by poverty, poor education and government mismanagement and corruption.
Those who would scrap NAFTA to retrieve "American jobs" are playing a cruel and misleading game with the U.S. electorate. Those corporations which can no longer survive in the U.S. business environment, in which wages are a significant but not the only factor, will either move to other countries or cease to exist. In either case, those American jobs are gone.
Just as the concept of "beggaring" our neighbor is contrary to the American tradition, so the policies to promote the creation of wealth in this hemisphere redound to our benefit as well as to that of the other nations. As befits a great nation, it is those policies which instill pride of country.
The American electorate is much more intelligent than the politicians imagine who are offering their quick fixes for the U.S. job market in an effort to gain votes.
The hard work before us is to create an environment in which small business can survive, since it is that sector of the U.S. economy that provides the lion's share of jobs and triggers the move to an improving economy.
For all this weeks letters and candidate columns, pick up a copy of this week's Valley Record