In the 18th century, Great Britain, with trade domination, was the world’s powerhouse. Starting in the 19th century, the United States surpassed Great Britain as the industrial leader, and we never looked back. America was every country’s desired trading partner.
Today, the balance of trade is changing once again as China becomes the fastest-growing economy in the world.
The problem is that the United States has made China’s growth possible. We not only are China’s largest trading partner with a large trade deficit, we also are heavily in debt to them. In addition to trade, U.S. companies — such as G.E. — are moving their manufacturing operations to China. Jeffrey Immelt is the CEO for G.E., as well as President Obama’s job czar. That’s right — America’s job czar is moving his X-ray headquarters to China. The number of workers employed by G.E. in the United States fell from around 162,000 in 2000 to 134,000 in 2009. If Immelt can’t keep jobs in this country, why is he the job czar?
Because of the damage to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in Northern California from the 1989 earthquake, California decided to rebuild the bridge to make it safer. This job has the “made in China” label on it. The roadbeds are being built in China — costing Americans more than 3,000 jobs — and shipped 6,500 miles to a sprawling facility in San Francisco that is run by hundreds of Chinese workers.
In New York, the Chinese were awarded contracts to build a new metro train platform, renovate parts of the subway system and refurbish a bridge over the Harlem River. There is a deal to build a $1.5 billion wind farm in Texas using Chinese turbines and employing more than 1,000 workers in China. The money is coming from the renewable energy stimulus money. President Obama said the stimulus money would create 17,000 jobs, but he didn’t tell us that the jobs would be in China.
The Chinese government is buying 30,000 acres of land in Idaho to build a self-sustaining city, which would include manufacturing, warehouses, retail centers and homes for Chinese workers. This will be considered a “special economic zone.” China National Machinery Industry Corporation plans to build a 50-acre technology zone just south of Boise.
In the 1970s, the Chinese city of Shenzhen was a fishing village across from Hong Kong. I visited Shenzhen in the ’90s and as a “special economic zone,” it now is home to more than 14 million people.
During the past decade, U.S. multinationals reduced their domestic workforce by 2.9 million, according to Commerce Department figures. During the same period, those same companies increased their overseas workforce by 2.4 million. Many of these jobs are going to China. It is difficult to compete with a country where the average hourly wage is 57 cents, according to www.manufacturingnews.com.
It’s bad enough that we have borrowed trillions from China, and now we are giving them our jobs as well. Americans can build and manufacture better than the Chinese. We need to keep jobs here.
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway.