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 Corporate Treason

by Pete Fisher

In the very late 1970’s into the 80’s we saw a trend starting to develop in the automotive industry to move plants outside the US to compete with Japan and offset the high cost of Union Labor.

I remember a long time back an individual who was making an extraordinary amount of money in Detroit at a car plant. His entire job was to insert a piece of carpet into the trunk of the car as it went by and fit it to the glued surface. His wage at the time would have been around 20 dollars an hour which 20 years ago was pretty hefty. In all reality the job was probably worth 6 dollars an hour, as it required no skills other than being able to fit a square peg in a square hole so to speak. Detroit had a hard time competing with European and Asian manufacturers and started making cars in Mexico and Canada. Ford was using Mazda engines, GM was using Isuzu, Chrysler was using Mitsubishi, Peugeot, and VW engines to be able to compete with the mid size and compacts of the time. However, as they moved plants outside the US to escape high Union wages and benefits it was noticed that they could charge the same amount for the car and increase the bottom line profit.

When the EU started consolidating and forming a powerful economic and industrial entity, the competition became very tough for America. NAFTA was enacted to be able to pool the American Continent and strengthen our position, though many knew it had the smell of failure our hand was forced by Europe to compete globally. I know many blame President Clinton at the time, and it may raise some hackles here, but he really did not want to sign the agreement. I do believe however, that had he not been caught up in his own personal problems and had he stood his ground, it would not have been signed.

We have seen powerful companies like Motorola, G.E., Lucent, Microsoft, Honeywell and many others cutting American jobs and building plants overseas. I was the victim of outsourcing twice myself. The H1-B Visa program was running rampant as well, importing cheap foreign labor to replace Americans, and basically being used as a Bond Slave system, because those who accepted those jobs were forced to work for the sponsor company for years, or face being deported. It is a shameful abuse of human resources for the purpose of a larger bottom line.

The High Tech Boom busted, Telecomm went belly up after the Dot Coms, and we entered a Recession. People who were used to a nice life style tried to maintain that by running up debt on a tremendous level. And yet we see these companies still abusing cheap foreign labor by moving to China and India by the droves. Does it matter to a stockholder that thousands of people will lose their families and homes? For someone who made millions by selling out their own country, the pervasive “ I have mine” mentality drowns out honor, love of country, and the future.

When Motorola dumped dozens of plants nationwide, they were still importing cheap labor from India, China, and Eastern Europe to replace those who had been faithful to the company for decades. It is yet another shameful and greedy practice to kick those who are already down.

Foreign companies within the same timeline on an unprecedented level have purchased many American companies as well. Siemens owns Westinghouse, Sylvania, and Staefa, Daimler owns Chrysler, LG bought Zenith, and on and on. American companies have also invested in foreign businesses as well, but hardly any that support the American labor force. China has not only abused the rate of exchange, but refuses to enforce the Patent and Copyright laws. It is quite common to see a GM, Toyota, or any other product being made under a Chinese name and sold much cheaper.

So what really happens to the customer base of these companies when they lay off Americans? We are the world’s largest consumers of goods bar none. Immigrant labor does not buy nearly as much of almost any goods or product the average American does.

If Motorola or G.E. want to continue selling product here, the solution is not to make them cheaper. The real solution is to keep your largest consumer base employed and confident in their future. And in turn, their children and grandchildren will follow in their footsteps. But to lay off hundreds of thousands of workers and keep them in fear as to the future of their jobs, they lose big. Those same companies are not posting tremendous profits as in the days of employed Americans. They are not selling 500-dollar cell phones to the average Chinese or Mexican citizen. They are running on the fantasy that every quarter can be more profitable than the last, which forces them to find cheaper ways to manufacture year to year. And their profit still drops because the American can no longer afford to indulge as they used to. France should have learned this as they whittled their economy to the brink of danger by abusing cheap Asian labor for decades.

To complicate this, now even the banking industry has lost due to Asian banks offering lower rates, which in turn increases foreign owned interests in America. And the snowball effect will keep piling up our debt, our standard of living will drop, and our children will be owned or indebted to foreign entities. Our corporations have sold our children’s future to the highest bidder without regard to the Pandora’s Box they have unleashed on this nation.

Perhaps if every company that outsourced were forced by law to pay a minimum of 2 years salary, benefits, and school money to those displaced, the cost to commit this moral treason would be greater than the benefit. And even if not, those who were sold out could better their education and pay their bills while competing globally on the educational level. Without the taxpayers footing the bill. And if we push hard enough to bring back our manufacturing and employ our nation, we will see a tremendous surge of bringing down debt while significantly improving our consumer base.

Can we put the pressure on our government to make these changes? Can we enact laws to protect those who have been sold out to foreign labor and imported labor? Can we regain this country’s’ greatness and once more be a financial giant? I say we can. But it will take an Act of Congress to do it.

 Pete Fisher is a political columnist in Chicago, Illinois. He can be contacted at PFisher2005@aol.com

Pete Fisher Columns