Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Corporations Fail to Serve – Part 3

Continuing with my discussion of the problem of US Corporations exporting jobs to foreign countries, I want to focus on two aspects of this problem.

China Is Bad

I am especially upset that we do so much business with China. If we have to export jobs, why not to Eastern Europe, which has an educated workforce and needs to be helped economically? Why not other countries, which play by the rules and don’t abuse their people? Let me briefly summarize my issues with China:

(a) They still view us as an enemy, and their military budget increases significantly every year. They have been known to spy on us. We forget that they are a communist regime, who may use the prosperity we are providing them against us. How naïve can we be?

(b) They don’t play by the rules. They pirate our music and software, for example, and are hesitant to import goods from us (similar to the Japanese in that respect).

(c) They violate basic human rights, force women to have abortions, jail protesters, and persecute any church which isn’t a part of the “official” church in China. Look at how they treat the people of Tibet.

(d) They don’t care about polluting the air and water. While the US certainly doesn’t have a good record either, we have learned and are doing better. The Chinese feel it is now their turn to pollute since the West did it for so long.

(e) They don’t care about quality or safety. Just look at the goods that have been tainted with lead and other problem substances. Why should we buy from a country that couldn’t care less about our safety?

Whenever I have a choice (which isn’t often, unfortunately), I choose not to buy a Chinese-made item. I don’t want to support them.

US Workers Expensive

There are a number of reasons why American jobs are being exported, as I see it:

(a) US workers are highly paid. Chinese and Third World employees get paid less, and those in various trade zones are often paid even less than the prevailing wage (which is already low) in that country because of the greed of the corporations. While these workers have jobs, they are still being exploited by low wages and frequently unsafe or unhealthy conditions.

(b) US workers receive benefits such as health insurance, paid vacations, sick days, maternity leave, and the like. Every employer has to pay 7.5% of an employee’s pay in the employers’ portion of the social security tax (the employee pays the other 7.5%). Then there is federal unemployment tax, state unemployment tax, and workers’ comp. All of this can add up to an additional 25-30% of an employee’s wages that US companies have to pay (even more if the company is unionized).

(c) Although union membership is down, labor unions are still a factor in US business. Unions must learn to compromise to save US jobs instead of constantly resisting companies’ effects to improve productivity. It seems that labor unions would rather lose an entire workforce than give up a few jobs or compromise in other ways. No wonder companies are moving jobs overseas – we can thank the unions in part because of their intransigence.

(d) US employees, once among the most productive in the world, are beginning to become less productive, especially in the office. Today, office employees spend too much time surfing the Internet on company time, doing personal work on the company computer, and making personal calls on the company phone or on their cell phones. Our work ethic leaves something to be desired.

(e) Some US workers have a sense of entitlement: “you owe me a living, and I may or may not work, depending on how I feel.” Some work the system: they’ll stay on a job long enough to qualify for unemployment benefits, doing the minimal amount of work to not get fired, then will get themselves fired and live on unemployment until it runs out.

While I have been critical of US corporations in these posts, unions and the American worker are at least partly to blame for this problem of exporting jobs overseas. We better get our collective act together, or we will become a third-rate nation.

One final installment in a future post. Stay tuned.

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