What's the difference between Apple and Intel?
Reporters Donald Barlett and James Steele have unleashed a blunt assessment of the problems afflicting the U.S. economy.
In a new book entitled The Betrayal of the American Dream, Barlett and Steele say the U.S. has obsessively followed a path of free trade while overlooking the problem of outsourced jobs.
In an interview on NPR, the two point to the difference between companies that remain in the U.S. (and thus support domestic employment), and those who choose to outsource their production. They cite the example of Apple vs. Intel:
"Everyone loves Apple. Apple makes nothing in this country anymore," Bartlett tells NPR's Steve Inskeep as an example. "But then, look over here on the other side and you have Intel, and their plants are massive, and they are good-paying jobs. They continue to invest in this country. And what we need in this country now are more Intels and fewer Apples."
In contrast, Barlett and Steele cite the example of Germany, a nation that has chosen to emphasize its industrial sector:
"Germany has had a fairly good record in recent years," Steele says. When the global financial meltdown happened, Germany adopted a policy that subsidized companies in order to help them keep employees on the rolls. "It's one of the reasons the German unemployment rate is much lower than in this country," he says...German factory workers do considerably better than their American counterpoints in terms of wages and benefits.
Barlett and Steele say they'd like German-style government support for America's domestic manufacturers. Essentially, the two see the U.S. as not taking any action to address predatory trade by America's trading partners:
"We're not suggesting putting up walls around the United States," Steele adds. "But when an industry is threatened, when there's some bit of unfair competition, we need to respond, and we have never done that in any kind of systematic way. Every other country out there knows that, and as a result of that, they can continue to thumb their nose at our attempts to open those markets."
Barlett and Steele are right to point to the "unfair competition" practiced by countries like China. But the nation's manufacturers do have recourse. Or, more accurately, they would if Washington took specific steps to address the subsidies and currency manipulation that put U.S. manufacturing at risk.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has continually called for a coordinated national manufacturing strategy that includes forceful action on violations of trade agreements, including:
- Keeping America’s trade laws strong and strictly enforced to provide a level playing field for U.S. workers and businesses;
- Penalizing and deterring mercantilist nations such as China that manipulate their exchange rates and implement non-tariff barriers to gain an unfair trade advantage;
- As the Administration works to double exports, expand the goal to include balancing the U.S. trade account so that gains in exports are not overwhelmed by increased imports.
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