by Joe Kirkpatrick
Get used to the poor economy and high unemployment. As much as I would like to join in with the politicians and promise more jobs and an economic turn around, the facts just do not support that happening. Despite a fairly healthy economic outlook here in Bradley County where I live, it is just an abnormality in the total national economic picture.
Why won't the economy be turning around? It is quite simple. Industry producing goods for sale is the backbone of a country's economy. In 1959, manufacturing jobs accounted for 28% of all the jobs in our country. Now, that figure has dropped to less than 10%. Let's follow the trail of where all those jobs went, and why they will never return.
In the 1950's, the first wave of non-American made goods were imported. Japan, our mortal enemy just a few years before, began to produce poor quality goods at cheap prices and shipped them to our shores. Not much of a threat in the beginning due to their poor quality, enough consumers did buy them that Japan was able to start making and exporting more goods. As with any country that starts an industrial revolution, the products in the beginning usually are crude, but over time improve. Today, of course, products from Japan are very high in quality. Why did imports from Japan not ruin our economy? Japan has a population of 127 million, and is about the size of Montana. You can only produce a certain amount of product in a country of that size.
Next came Taiwan. Products of poor quality in the beginning, but rapidly accelerated to very good quality. Once again, not a huge threat since their population is only 23 million and it is the size of Indiana. However, combine the imports from both Japan and Taiwan, the "big picture" begins to get bigger.
South Korea then enters the picture. South Korean goods started off with a bit higher quality than those first produced by Japan and Taiwan, but they also had those two countries as competitors already. Once again, with the continual threat of their next door neighbor, North Korea, and a population of 50 million people in a country the size of Kentucky, they were not posed to be a dominate force. However, combined with the imports of Japan and Taiwan, the total imports now coming into the United States still increased significantly.
In the 90's, NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed, opening the doorway to even more imports to flood the U.S. Mainly targeted to aid product "exchange" from Mexico, it also opened the door to one of our biggest enemies.
Unlike any other country we have ever imported from, China is a country with a similar size of the United States. In the U.S., we have 300 million people and a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. China has 1.3 billion people with no minimum wage, but an average pay of $.50 (US) per hour. Now you don't have to wonder anymore why over 50% of everything you now buy in our country has a "Made in China" label on it.
Through the years, I always read about "Red" China being our biggest threat. When I heard that, I always envisioned their ships at our beaches with millions of their soldiers swarming into every nook and cranny of our country taking us over and making us their slaves. I never imagined they would take us over without firing a single shot! Now, not only do they own a large portion of our economy, we have borrowed trillions of dollars from them. If we dare impose import sanctions to try to balance our huge trade deficient, they could call in our loans and hopelessly bankrupt us.
Get used to things as they are - there will be no recovery.