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How Did We Get into this Mess?

Guessing why jobs went overseas
and CEOs made millions... legally

Now, I know I’m the 24-hour drive-by news junkie (since I work at home I keep the cable news channels on for lunch breaks and in the morning before the work day starts), but I think I was actually in the car listening to someone likes Rush Limbaugh when I heard tariff lifting mentioned. We started going over the history of the changes in policy on our country while we were driving, and by the time we got to the Brat Stop for beers I came up with an outline of what happened in this country.
(editor’s note: Sorry, this outline may be a bit off, but we were in a car talking about this and coming up with a rough outline before we had beers. It made sense at the time.)
Let’s start with the concept of tariffs. A tariff is a tax on imported goods. Like, if people try to import their products into the United States, we put a tax on it, helping make our products cheaper for people in our country to purchase. So protective tariffs have been used to keep a country's economy strong.
Seems a good idea, though we’re always talking about globalization and the buying and selling of products worldwide, so... do we always penalize imports (and do they penalize the importation of our products too)?
Well, no, not completely, because after WWII we started minimizing tariffs “to liberalize trade among all capitalist countries” (see Wikipedia). And our industry and labor still prospered after WWII... until the 1970s, where low-cost production world-wide gave us a lot more competition. Even our automotive industry was starting to flounder, thanks to Toyota and Nissan. But instead of imposing government restrictions via more tariffs again to help the U.S. automotive industry, voluntary restrictions were put on imports from Japan.
Now, I’m usually the first to get rid of government restrictions (possibly like tariffs), but hear the rest of this story out. By the time the 80s came around, President Reagan reduced tariffs even more, and President George H.W. Bush greatly reduced tariffs. They abandoned their protectionist ideology with tariffs and supported the idea of minimal economic barriers to global trade. Trade was allowed with Canada thanks to NAFTA, but think about it historically. At this point in the 80s there is no tax for importing goods into the United States (is this when we finally saw an explosion of Japanese cars like Toyota and Nissan in our markets?). If this is when large companies are trying to further increase their profits, they would see that there is no tax on them for having people in third world countries create our products for us at a much small cost than in the United States (and there you don’t have to worry about silly laws like worrying about health care or fair pay), without being taxed to bring your products back into the United States for your company?
This idea really seemed like a winning situation for companies, but in the process American lose jobs. Great plan.
But think about it, if anything ever confuses you on a subject that has anything to do with politics, it is often easiest to just follow the money. Republicans like big business, so the likes of Reagan and Bush Mach 1 helped big business out — big time.
But in light of all of this (people losing jobs in the U.S. and CEOs making cheaper products), you’d think we’d have really cheap products comparatively speaking on the market now. But, even though the cost of producing these products greatly went down, the price of these items did not. And the CEOs made a ton of money.
No, my writing this isn’t supposed to provide the answers to everything (I know, you’ve come to assume that’s what an editorial should do). And it’s not a call to action, either... Because I don’t know what can be dome about this. Thanks to supporting big business (which really does seem like a good idea, because if businesses do well, there are more jobs and more products and the economy grows and everyone improves, I get it), we’ve given them too much rope to be able to help themselves at the cost of the rest of the people in this nation. A Moral conscience is supposed to stop these CEOS fro raping their own country’s workers for their own profits; at least that’s the premise of a moral and just society. But I guess that’s what we get for thinking that the rest of the people in this country would be moral...




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Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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