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March 10, 2010

It Is Time To Put Our Foot Down: Ten Steps We Can Take To Stop Closing Factories And Eliminating Jobs

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The economy is still getting worse more slowly. We lost "only" 36,000 jobs last month. We need to create 11 million new jobs just to get back to where we were before "free-market" conservatives took over our government and dismanted the protections and regulations that had protected us from this.

Jobs lost, communities devastated, lives destroyed. Over and over again. Yet with all of this going on companies like Whirlpool and Toyota are still closing factories, laying of American workers, and moving manufacturing out of the country! Toyota is closing the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, which could lose up to 50,000 jobs across California. Whirlpool -- recipient of stimulus dollars from the government -- is closing a factory in Evansville, Indiana and moving the jobs to Mexico where people will be paid $70 a week and certainly won't be buying anything made in America.

It's the system. While the executives collect bonuses and tax breaks for their destructive actions We, the People have to pick up the tab. We pay the unemployment, the stimulus, etc. Our communities pay the cost of losing the jobs and the tax base, our economy pays the cost of losing the manufacturing capability. And the executives and private equity firms and Wall Street get rich. So of course they do more of it.

How crazy is this? In the middle of this terrible jobs crisis companies are still closing factories here and shipping the jobs out of the country. Why do we allow this?

Whirlpool and Toyota (and Wall Street's $140 billion bonus pool this year) ought to be the last straw. It is time for We, the People to put our foot down and say not one more factory closed, not one more job sent out of the country! In fact, it is time to start bringing jobs BACK.

It is time to stop letting goods into the country that are made by exploited workers in areas with no environmental protections without a tariff to take away the price advantage gained from going around the protections that We, the People have fought so hard for.

There is only one way the country can earn the money to pay back what we borrowed from China, Japan and others. That is to make and sell things to others!!! THAT is what "trade" means. "Trade" does not mean allowing greedy executives to sidestep the laws and regulations and protections that We, the People fought so hard to get.

Look around us. Jobs lost, communities devastated, homes foreclosed, lives destroyed, governments going broke. All because of a runaway system that encourages the destruction of our economy. Our system actually encourages executives to close factories and lay people off! Executives make profits and get bonuses (that benefit from tax cuts) if they can figure out how to eliminate YOUR job or close a factory or cheapen a product or keep you from talking to customer support or make you pay an extra fee, etc.

Wall Street and executives benefit from this -- and get tax cuts, tax breaks and subsidies for doing it. But the economy-at-large is destroyed by these same actions when they are widespread. On top of that, we know that when we lose the factories we have to borrow money to buy the things we used to make. But we give tax breaks instead of penalties to companies that do this.

Here are just some steps that We, the People can take to start turning this around:

- A border tariff on imports to remove the price advantage of goods produced by exploited, underpaid workers.

- A border tariff to remove the price advantage of goods produced in ways that harm the environment.

- A border tariff on goods from countries that are not democracies, to remove any pricing advantage gained from not allowing people to vote and set rules that benefit themselves.

- A border tariff on goods from countries that restrict workers from organizing to improve their wages and working conditions, to remove any pricing advantage gained from not allowing workers to bargain. (America currently doesn't meet this standard.)

- Remove tax benefits and instead impose tax penalties and fines on companies that close factories here. Don't let it be profitable to do this!

- Increase taxes on the big monopolistic companies to remove the advantages that help them destroy America's smaller, regional and local businesses -- the very job creators we need.

- Increase income taxes on high incomes to reduce the incentive to pursue short-term windfalls instead of long-term interests. Make it take a long time to accumulate a fortune. Making a fortune is great but it should be a reward for helping our economy and society, not destroying them.

- Break up the "too big to fail" Wall Street firms that wrecked the economy. And get the money back -- all of it.

- Explore the use of Eminent Domain to keep factories in communities and workers in the factories.

- Formulate and follow a national economic/industrial strategy to build a new green manufacturing economy

Please add some ideas in the comments. I will have more to say on all of this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at March 10, 2010 12:20 PM


Comments

There is a bit of a problem, here. These things that "We the People" have to do are actually things that must be done by Congress passing laws and the President signing them. A major bugaboo that we've been facing is being able to persuade Congress to do the right thing.

Let's see. Joe Lieberman as Homeland Security chair. Democrats with landslide majorities always waiting for something further before even attempting anything progressive. Endless compromise with Republicans who want to bury us, in exchange for non-votes. The Washington press corps....

What can we do ourselves? Run and support financially challengers in primaries. Campaign on betrayal by certain current Democrats. Do something that publicly embarrasses and humiliates (or even harms) a media actor who fronts for the Republican Noise Machine.

How about publicizing, re-releasing, campaigning on the nearly two-decades old movie "Bob Roberts"? They have a scene where Roberts's personal physician publicly describes a bullet injury from an attempted assassination. We learn that the assassination attempt was fake, there was no bullet injury, and Roberts in reality was never paralyzed.

What would be the consequences to a physician who told such a falsehood? If he wrote it in an official medical report, he would be disciplined possibly to the point of disbarment. If he testified under oath at a deposition or in court, he would be committing perjury. But what about public lies -- would the 1st Amendment protect public outright lies by a physician in his profession?

I think that we might be able to argue in court somehow that a major organizational structure deceptively pushing aggressive war goes beyond what we need to tolerate under the 1st Amendment. Definitely, the 1st Amendment doesn't defend CIA underground manipulation or control in our mainstream media. There are hints of such control. If we can demonstrate such CIA control, any 1st-Amendment issues vanish.

Can we find something to punish or destroy the Republican Noise Machine?

Posted by: John M 307 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2010 5:28 PM

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