It is clear from the changes on the White House website and the rhetoric espoused during the inauguration speech that Donald Trump has high hopes of ending trade agreements, increasing job opportunity while strongly discouraging companies from opening businesses outside of America. My curiosity about this is while it might sound nice to some people when they first hear it, I am curious if America can afford it.
Look no further than the most popular retail store in most cities, Wal-Mart. Why is Wal-Mart so popular? Wal-Mart is popular because they are cheap. One could argue the reason why Wal-Mart is so inexpensive is that so many of their goods are manufactured overseas. In fact, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, it says that Chinese imports purchased by American shoppers cost Americans 400,000 jobs since 2001. This presents the pickle. If companies are going to stay in America and pay people a competitive livable wage, will the prices stay low? I don’t think so. If the prices do not stay low, are Americans willing to pay more for their goods or work for less money to keep the price of goods low? I don’t think so.
Another problem which no one wants to speak about is how many factory jobs are rapidly decreasing due to automation. Fortune Magazine cites this about a Ball University study, ” From 2006 to 2013, “manufacturing grew by 17.6%, or at roughly 2.2% per year,” according to a report from Ball State University. The study says as well that trade accounted for 13% of the lost U.S. factory jobs, but 88% of the jobs were taken by robots and other factors at home.” Automation is eating away human jobs extraordinarily fast. Robots do not ask for minimum wage, raises, breaks, or sick days, so they are appealing to corporations. Another big job killer in America is the prison industrial complex which practically provides free labor from prisoners to make all sorts of goods sold throughout America and the world. According to Noah Zatz at UCLA Law, “well over 600,000, and probably close to a million, inmates are working full-time in jails and prisons throughout the United States.” The irony is if a company makes their goods in prison or heavily relying on automation they still can and do advertise the good proudly as “Made In America.”
Lawrence Rodgers is a R3 Contributor
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