Labor Day and (lack of) Jobs: A problem of our own making?

Every time Labor Day rolls around, I can’t help but remember that iconic commercial, “Look for the Union Label”,  with its closing theme: It says we’re able to make in the USA.

  • My girlfriend and I went shopping because she wanted to take advantage of the Labor Day furniture sale. She was interested in a new bedroom set and we found a very nice five-piece, walnut and hardwoods set for a great price of ~$3200. Why?  Made in Vietnam.
  • End of July, I leased a new GM car, same model, only 2011 vs. 2008.  The 2011 model was less expensive than 2008.  Why? The window sticker stated  the automobile’s manufacture (except for 20% of the parts) and final assembly point was Mexico.
  • Just received my Lands’ End order for some every day casual pants and tops.  Made in El Salvador; Guatamala, and Bangladesh.
  • Purchased this afternoon, an all-in-one printer/fax/scanner/copier from Epson. Made in Indonesia.
  • My employer’s Dell laptop used in my home office.  Made in China.

See a pattern here?

There are numerous stories about American products no longer manufactured in the US, and the resounding question, especially in these very troubled economic times is why?   Donald Trump remarked several months ago in an inteview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “Americans make better products”.  Fine, then why aren’t we making more of them.  Why has our manufacturing sector, once the bulwark of our economic engine and source of job creation for most of America’s middle-class families, lost 5.3 million jobs in the last decade, according to research by the Heritage Foundation.

As an opinionated woman, we have what I call the Chicken and the Egg problem.

How many Americans would be willing to be spend more money buying “Made in the USA” products so that we could employ American workers at a fair, livable wage, vs. buying products made China, Taiwan, etc. because they’re cheaper?

Or, is it the other way around?  We’d like to buy American-made products when we can find them, but, they’re too expensive, and we can’t afford them, because we either don’t have jobs, or we don’t have jobs that pay us enough to spend the extra money to purchase USA-made products.

And if American products have become too expensive, why?   Because of too much Government regulations on business, which are passed on to consumers in the product’s price?  Too many freebies and perks in union contracts, which are also passed on to many to support the largesse of the few?  Too many Americans, in general, who have become accustomed to cheaper products at cheaper prices, and simply aren’t willing to pay more?

The latest pronouncements this Labor Day holiday is borne out of traditional old-style, Union boss vitriole.  It’s pointless and unnecessay because it doesn’t come close to understanding the shifting economic sands beneath today’s US economy, or what’s needed to get our US workforce back on the job.

Americans have no problem competing with the rest of the world, but one of the keys to our competitiveness and productivity is through the use of newer and better technologies. And these technologies are resulting in not only the need for less labor, but a more highly skilled labor force who are better educated and understand and have specific technology skills.  How many of our unemployed, underemployed, are being retrained for these jobs, either through their own initiative or through formal public/private training programs.

Our unemployment problem is not the world around us, not trade agreements, not China or India or Mexico.  Our problem is ourselves.

Cross-posted with my sister blog:

About an-opinioniatedwoman

Midwest, Middle Class and Middle of the Road. A fiscal conservative and social moderate, who supports free speech, gun rights, the military, and God Bless America. Multi-dog owner who has seen and been through it all. Interests from politics to football to cooking/baking to opera. I have a very low tolerance for mediocrity.
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