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Henry Ford knew exactly how to pump up economy

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POSTED September 6, 2010 3:15 a.m.
“If you don’t pay the people enough money, they can’t buy cars.” - Henry Ford

A lot of ink has been spelled about how America is becoming the land of service jobs. The Great Recession certainly doesn’t diminish that argument.

Labor. though is not passé.

The naysayers who believe China and the developing Third World are slowly but surely taking over brawn and production jobs believe the solution is more education. The theory goes something like this: America gets stronger by having a workforce that has an even higher percentage of college graduates as you are unemployable with just a high school diploma.

Tell that to Bill Gates. Or, better yet, tell that to people who have college degrees and can’t find work.

America’s problem isn’t its workforce. It’s mega-corporations working in collusion with big government and often ignoring the vary regulations supposedly put in place to protect people from greed whether it is financial hanky panky or safety due to cutting corners like BP did in the Gulf of Mexico

 The small guys - depending upon which government statistics you use - account for 60 to 80 percent of all private sector jobs. Many of them are in manufacturing. Yet government - read that elected politicians and entrenched high-level bureaucrats - cater to big business with everything from special tax breaks to allowing them to import cheaper foreign labor when skilled and employable Americans go without work. Then, to strengthen the short-term bottom line big corporations make mega deals, merge companies and then ship jobs offshore to another country. Of course, those jobs move again whenever those corporations that pay proportionally less tax than the guy on Main Street decide they can’t live with a 10 or 20 percent return on their investment so they look for even cheaper labor and a workforce willing to work in virtual squalor. Of course, big returns rarely make it to the stockholders who tend to be the working stiffs and their retirement funds. Instead it goes to obscene mega bonuses and greases the proverbial palms for risky financially transactions.

The end result is bigger profits for the mega corporations and mega rich thanks to a helping hand from Uncle Sam while the working class continues to take it in the shorts. The end result, of course, will ultimately destroy business.

It is why some have astutely observed that organizations like the California Chamber of Commerce actually represent the needs of the state’s 20 largest employers rather than the guy trying to stay afloat on Main Street. Big corporations including big organizations such as state chambers of commerce play by much different rules and, unfortunately, appear to have a big disconnect from labor as well as ethics.

Back in the 1990s while a Ford executive was touring a plant that had new robots assembling cars, he turned to a United Auto Workers representative and bragged that workers couldn’t match the speed and efficiency of the robots.

That brought a short retort: “I’d like to see those robots buy Fords.”

It’s an interesting turn of events when labor today thinks along the same lines as one of the men revered as creating modern production lines and mega corporations - Henry Ford himself.

Today everyone - including mega corporations and big government - need to remember this would be a much different country without labor.

The natural resources needed to build computers was not only mined by labor, but was processed into useable form by labor, delivered to factories built by labor in trucks driven, assembled, and loaded by labor driven over roads built and maintained by labor and then  shipped by labor to stores were it is sold by labor to a nation where most people still earn a pay check through labor whether it is manufacturing or service jobs.

Big government doesn’t create jobs except, of course, those that push paper. As for corporations, they obviously don’t create jobs without tax subsidies and special breaks that the little guys can’t get.

This Labor Day remember labor built America and not some young turk trading billions each day on Wall Street or some policy wonk working on Capitol Hill.
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