This is a two-fer; I’m going to link two opinion pieces to make one point.
First, Paul Krugman, in a recent column commenting on Mitch Daniels’ assertion that American businessman Steve Jobs was a hero–job creator who should be emulated. He gets to the Apple point midway through (my emphasis):
[A]nyone who reads The New York Times knows that [Daniels'] assertion about job creation was completely false: Apple employs very few people in this country.
A big report in The Times last Sunday laid out the facts. Although Apple is now America’s biggest U.S. corporation as measured by market value, it employs only 43,000 people in the United States, a tenth as many as General Motors employed when it was the largest American firm.
Apple does, however, indirectly employ around 700,000 people in its various suppliers. Unfortunately, almost none of those people are in America.
Krugman points out that it’s not just the low wages; it’s also the local supply infrastructure. But even so, how did the whole of it, the factories and that lovely network of local parts suppliers, get there to begin with?
Answer — American industrial policy. Yes, we did it to ourselves. (By “we” I mean the do-ers, Our Betters; and by “ourselves” I mean the do-ees, you and me.)
American government always has an industrial policy. We’ve never been without one. And in the last 30 years, the right-wing Reagan government — and every U.S. government since — has grown campaign-contribution-fat by picking corporate winners and labor losers in the newspeakishly named “free market.” The rest is just disinformation, something to keep you confused until they’ve robbed you totally blind.
Here’s Robert Reich to make the connection:
Jobs Won’t Come Back to America Until the Government Pushes Greedy Corporate Executives to Invest at Home
That’s his headline, not to put too fine a point on it.
And here’s a bit of the meat (my emphasis below).
… 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. … 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. …
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? … [C]orporate America isn’t their friend. Without bold government action on behalf of our workforce, good American jobs will continue to disappear.
The headline makes the point stronger than the piece itself, but still, the point is there.
Government always acts (or not-acts) in someone’s behalf. It always picks winners and losers, in exactly the same way you do when you decide to see Chucky Does Paris rather than Midnight in Missoula — or even when you stay home instead with a big box of deep-fried Drummer Boy Wings and your tears. Someone walks away with your dollar, and the rest just walk. Same diff.
The real question is — What’s American labor, chained as it is to the NeoLiberal-dominated Democratic party, going to do about it?
Not many choices, are there? I can think of just three — Leave the party. Kick those corporate-financed NeoLibs out of first position and take over. Whine.
If you don’t pick (1) or (2), the third picks you (not to put too fine a point on it).