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Robert Reich
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Tuesday 24 January 2012
“Without bold government action on behalf of our workforce, good American jobs will continue to disappear.”

The State of Our Disunion: A Globalizing Private Sector, A Government Overwhelmed by Corporate Money

Who should have the primary strategic responsibility for making American workers globally competitive – the private sector or government? This will be a defining issue in the 2012 campaign.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama will make the case that government has a vital role. His Republican rivals disagree. Mitt Romney charges the President is putting “free enterprise on trial,” while Newt Gingrich merely fulminates about “liberal elites.”

American business won’t and can’t lead the way to more and better jobs in the United States. First, the private sector is increasingly global, with less and less stake in America. Second, it’s driven by the necessity of creating profits, not better jobs.

The National Science Foundation has just released its biennial report on global investment in science, engineering and technology. The NSF warns that the United States is quickly losing ground to Asia, especially to China. America’s share of global R&D spending is tumbling. In the decade to 2009, it dropped from 38 percent to 31 percent, while Asia’s share rose from 24 to 35 percent.

One big reason: According to the NSF, American firms nearly doubled their R&D investment in Asia over these years, to over $7.5 billion.

GE recently announced a $500 million expansion of its R&D facilities in China. The firm has already invested $2 billion.

GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt chairs Obama’s council on work and competitiveness. I’d wager that as an American citizen, Immelt is concerned about working Americans. But as CEO of GE, Immelt’s job is to be concerned about GE’s shareholders. They aren’t the same.

GE has also been creating more jobs outside the United States than in it. A decade ago, fewer than half of GE’s employees were non-American; today, 54 percent are.

This is all good for GE and its shareholders, but it’s not necessarily good for America or American workers. The Commerce Department says U.S. based global corporations added 2.4 million workers abroad in first decade of 21st century, while cutting their US workforce by 2.9 million.

According to the New York Times, Apple Computer employs 43,000 people in the United States but contracts with over 700,000 workers abroad. It makes iPhones in China not only because of low wages there but also the ease and speed with which its Chinese contractor can mobilize their workers – from company dormitories at almost any hour of the day or night.

An Apple executive says “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.” He might have added “and showing a big enough profits to continually increase our share price.”

Most executives of American companies agree. If they can make it best and cheapest in China, or anywhere else, that’s where it will be made. Don’t blame them. That’s what they’re getting paid to do.

What they want in America is lower corporate taxes, less regulation, and fewer unionized workers. But none of these will bring good jobs to America. These steps may lower the costs of production here, but global companies can always find even lower costs abroad.

Global corporations — wherever they’re based — will create good jobs for Americans only if Americans are productive enough to summon them. Problem is, a large and growing portion of our workforce isn’t equipped to be productive.  

Put simply, American workers are hobbled by deteriorating schools, unaffordable college tuitions, decaying infrastructure, and declining basic R&D. All of this is putting us on a glide path toward even lousier jobs and lower wages.

Get it? The strategic responsibility for making Americans more globally competitive can’t be centered in the private sector because the private sector is rapidly going global, and it’s designed to make profits rather than good jobs. The core responsibility has to be in government because government is supposed to be looking out for the public, and investing in public schools, colleges, infrastructure, and basic R&D.  

But here’s the political problem. American firms have huge clout in Washington. They maintain legions of lobbyists and are pouring boatloads of money into political campaigns. After the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, there’s no limit.

Who represents the American workforce? Organized labor represents fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers and has all it can do to protect a dwindling number of unionized jobs.

Republicans like it this way, and for three decades have been trying to convince average working Americans government is their enemy. Yet corporate America isn’t their friend. Without bold government action on behalf of our workforce, good American jobs will continue to disappear.

This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.

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ABOUT Robert Reich


ROBERT B. REICH, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at Robert Reich's new film, "Inequality for All" is available on DVD
and blu-ray, and on Netflix in February.

This started for me with the

This started for me with the question of what is debt? This is what globalism is. It's about a "free" market for corporations but of no one else, especially labour. There is not one word in any of the trade agreements acknowledging the rights of labour,the local economy or the enviroment but only the rights under law of corporations to persue profits at the others expence.

Under globalism the move is towards a equality of the lowest denominator in the price of labour. Globalism will die because of it's inate unfairness and not having the backing of the people. If the people organize and mobilize it's only a matter of time before globalism's collapse. The question is how much irreversable damage is caused before it's collapse?

Governments under globalism were meant to wither away along with the idea of nation states to be replaced with servitude to corporations. Presently governments can do little to combat this trend as debt has mounted and the political body has increasingly come under corporate control. At the centre of the corporate world is money and it's controlers and producers. These are the big banks, their national entities the central banks, (Fed Reserve), and their international institutions the IMF,BIS,World Bank, GATT etc which are a projection of the central banks. All are private for profit corporations. Their monopolistic product is the various moneys the nations of the world use. What absolute power they have creating and controlling all the money in this world. Unfortunately banks have always found ways to self destruct owning to their out and out greed. Enough is never enough for them,and so the present great recession.

The only way for the people to ever control the inevitablity of the current system from reappearing after eras of regulatory control is for the people to regain their control and power over the money they use. The people, through their government must have the power to issue their own money or all is for naught. We could pass a thousand Glass Stiegals a thousand times, and a thousand and one times the banks and the corporations around them would over throw the good intentions of the people to protect themselves from the power of those who create money. So the only way forward is for the people to regain the power to issue and control the money used in their daily commerce and economies. Control this and the people control all commerce and they then can create a fair market system where one is not played against the other in a race to the bottom.

For God's sake let's educate ourselves on this planet saving issue. It started for me with the question of why is everything in debt. What finally opened my eyes was when I discovered a web video called "The Money Masters." Google it, watch it, and then continue to educate yourself and those around you. Time is running out for us and our dear old planet.

"Symptoms of a declining

"Symptoms of a declining empire?" All I can see is a spiral staircase with a one-way sign on it POINTING DOWNWARDS.

Nothing short of a revolution can save America. The Corporatocracy is a deadlier enemy than Communism, Socialism, Totalitarianism, or any other "...isms" ever were. They will finish you eventually.

I like Mr. Reich; however, he

I like Mr. Reich; however, he seems unable to stop blaming the Republicans and defending the Democrats. The problem is that BOTH parties are against the american people. Mr. Reich should take a look at the Clinton Administration. They were responsible for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and passing the Commodities Futures Modernization Act; both of these were major contributors to the 2007/8 recession. Other legislation - NAFTA and Gatt were major reasons for the massive job losses in the USA.

"Mitt Romney charges the

"Mitt Romney charges the President is putting “free enterprise on trial,”.........

Ah! If only it were true. I think it's long overdue to have a debate about the role that so called "free enterprise" should have in the lives of the American people. One thing we know for sure is that mittens has by and large put government on trial and backed his arguments up with a ever changing positions on just about everything. But even his best lies cannot undo the facts of his time at Bain. There was no motivation to create jobs in spite of mitt's most recent lie on the subject. He was there to make money for his investors and the necessity of creating JOBS was never really a consideration, in spite of the lies he has told about that. In the case of mitten's ...... the clothes have no emperor.

Norman Allen's picture

Symptoms of a declining

Symptoms of a declining empire?

google "the money masters"

google "the money masters" and watch the video. it's everywhere not just in America.

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