One of the realizations that struck me while listening to his presentation on Book tv C-SPAN2 today is that the world is so different that maybe we should think of a way to re-visualize our economic realities. Old insights won’t work. The issue is not the loss of American jobs, per se, but how do we retool ourselves to live in the new economic realities. I would like to make a few comments about what the retooling might require.
- If an American company is outsourcing its jobs, then it should be contributing to the economic welfare of its employees. The income paid to the foreign labor should be a livable wage with benefits equivalent, in local terms, to the same required in our country. No American corporation should be allowed to run a sweat shop. Workers should make enough during a reasonable 8-hour workday, 5 days a week to support themselves and their children, no matter in what country the worker lives. Workers the world over should be allowed time to spend with families and in the pursuit of their own happiness and dreams.
- American corporations, or any corporation that does business in
, even if only by selling products to be imported to America , should pay taxes to the American government. If a company doesn’t pay taxes, none of its employees or owners should live anywhere on American soil. The country of a corporate ownership should be determined by the nationality of its owners, not its corporate address. Foreign-owned corporations should pay an American tax on all property owned or rented within the United States and its territories, on all imported supplies and products, and on all income earned by its employees during any time-span, even temporary visits, during which they were living in the United States. America
- Workers who have lost jobs through out-sourcing should take their expertise, unite, and form a co-op corporation to continue producing similar or other products like they know how to make. The manufacture and sales of the products would be done by peoples who own the company, since everyone working there would be a co-owner. Co-ops could band together in an entity that could contract for all forms of insurance needed by the companies and the workers. Consultants to assist in the paperwork and decisions formerly done by the owners who closed down the original company and out-sourced the original jobs could be hired at rates more reasonable than the salaries made by the former CEO’s and owner profits. The downside to this is that there would be conflicts between members with different goals and visions. Who would lead? There would be lots to learn from such companies that began in this or similar ways in the past: Southwest Airlines, Winnebago, and maybe Gateway come to mind. Government business loans should foster this kind of restructuring.
- American job opportunities could change to reflect our position in the global neighborhood. Our world has changed. We can change to survive in the new reality. What jobs and what training will actually mesh with the new economy? We should identify the jobs that even with outsourcing must still be done on American soil and define our economy in ways that support those jobs.
- We should examine service jobs. We should encourage our citizens that make enough money to hire domestic workers to do so. We should spread the wealth—and relieve some of the stress in families trying to work and run a household. Many Americans are burning the candle at both ends with trying to do it all and play to boot. Mothers, for example, work both in and out of the home and have little time or energy to spare for themselves or their children for just enjoying each other.
- It is OK for workers to be alien, if they are paying American taxes. These taxpayers would thus have a right to access to services such as public health services while supporting and not draining the community coffers. So drop the concept of illegal aliens. Open the borders and make all workers legal, paid at least minimum wages, paying taxes, and working openly so that they are not exploited. There will be jobs to go around if Americans get creative and invent more jobs.
- We should make trade agreements work for Americans and for the global community. We do live in an interconnected world. Withdrawing from that world will cost us in influence, power, and safety.
- All foreign students should be required to take a course in American civics and history before they take technical courses for an American degree program. They should understand our viewpoint before they learn our expertise. These classes must not be taught by foreigners or cynics. All Americans should take the same courses with the same requirements. And all should be made to write deep discussion questions about the process, not just pay lip-service to multiple-choice facts before passing the course.
- We need the wealth of the big corporations. But, the greed of these entities must be balanced by national concerns and by the needs of the American people. People like Bill Gates should be consulted on how to make this happen.
- Americans must want to see this country and its economy remain strong and be willing to work towards that end even if we must make sacrifices to do so. We need a new vision of what careers will sustain us. We need common visions of what it means to be American. We need patriotism. We do not need to blindly let our policy-makers and political leaders decide for us. We should foster all the safeguards that our country offers to make the admittedly compromising decisions that enable this country to function for all of its diverse citizenry: free press, free religion, separation of church and state, tolerance of others, voting, demanding accountability and true service of our law-makers and political leaders, etc.