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If you listen to the president, most members of Congress, and even most of the media’s talking heads, green jobs are the answer to providing America with endless green pastures of prosperity. Green jobs are the wave of the future, we are told.
Maybe someday it will be, but right now, the answer to America’s recovery and ongoing fiscal health depends on supporting the domestic manufacturers we already have.
It’s even more important that we don’t sacrifice our existing traditional manufacturing jobs to pave the way for green jobs like we did when we were told that hi-tech jobs and service jobs would be keys to America’s future economic prosperity.
As Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration once put it, “If the U.S. is the high-tech leader of the world, why does the U.S. have a trade deficit in advanced technology products with China?”
Domestic service jobs don’t pay nearly as well as traditional, old-style manufacturing jobs. Although service jobs like waitresses, retail clerks, bartenders, and barbers are jobs we need and depend upon for their contribution to our economy, they certainly can’t take up the slack for the lost jobs when, say, a refrigerator plant goes overseas.
According to a Dec. 1, 2010, Wall Street Journal article, the realization is setting in that green jobs in American can’t take up the slack for lost manufacturing jobs.
When Sweden-based Electrolux AB closed its refrigerator plant in Greenville, Mich., in 2006 and nearly 4,000 jobs vanished virtually overnight, the town’s mayor saw solar plants as a turning point. Even though two plants eventually were built by Michigan-based Uni-Solar, they employ only 320 workers between them, and only 66 of the former 4,000 Electrolux employees.
Some workers, even ones who took courses to qualify for the new green jobs, make less than they used to at the old Electrolux refrigerator plant. One worker at the new solar facility who used to work at a local auto parts plant earns about half of the $50,000 he used to make there annually.
Many of those 66 former Electrolux AB workers went through a local community college for training, proving that we needlessly are allocating taxpayer funds for the privilege of laying people off and retraining them for jobs that pay lower wages. This is not a sound national strategy, if we have one.
A far better strategy would be to apply a tariff (think of it as an access fee to the lucrative American market) to imported refrigerators, thereby eliminating the incentive for companies to shift production abroad. After all, my American-made Whirlpool refrigerator didn’t cost any more money that the imported ones that I purposely refused to consider purchasing anyway. And since my refrigerator didn’t cost more (in fact it was one of the more inexpensive ones on the sales floor) where is the argument that we need to import refrigerators so companies can remain profitable?
I’m not saying we should not embrace and compete for new, green jobs. I’m only saying while pursuing new jobs for new economic growth, we should not be sacrificing or trading existing manufacturing jobs for new ones by allowing foreign producers to undercut American producers.
Protective tariffs should be placed on imports from cheaper labor countries whose workers compete for the same jobs as Americans do. What tariff level should be applied? Perhaps President Theodore Roosevelt gave the best guidance on this question when he said that tariffs “must never be reduced below the point that will cover the difference between the labor cost here and abroad. The well-being of the wage-worker is a prime consideration of our entire policy of economic legislation.”
But how can we buy American and support American manufacturing jobs? There are several banners and links that provide lots of ways to do just that at HowtoBuyAmerican.com.
All American Clothing Company makes all of their clothes in the USA with 100 percent American-grown cotton, and right now you can get free shipping on orders over $75.00.
VersaTables.com makes American computer furniture and more for your school, home, or office needs.
Check out American-made online retailers MadeInUSAForever.com, AmericanAisle.com, AmericasVirtualGeneralStore.com, or MadeInUSAProductsStore.com for thousands of American-made products from hundreds of American manufacturers.
American-made tankless water heaters that save energy and money can be found at buytankless.com where Hubbell water heaters have been made since 1920.
Looking for a way to make the American health care industry even more American? Check out ScrubInk.com where all their scrubs and health care apparel is made in New York City.
If you still need to send Christmas cards for the holidays, you’ll find all of them American made with a Southwest style at LaCasaCards.com.
Keep your feet warm this winter with all American-made socks at Wigwam.com, and keep your body warm with all American coffee at USACoffeeCompany.com. If you like to enjoy looking at American art while drinking your java, check out Antonela’s Fine Art Portfolio at AntonelaArt.com.
All-American Baby has everything you need to keep your baby all American at All-AmericanBaby.net. And of course if you have a dog, you’ll want to visit KonasChips.com for dog treats, dog toys, and more.
Florida-based Home Furniture has been providing American-made furniture for over 35 years. If you want to furnish your home with American-made furniture like my wife and I did in our home, check out HomeFurnitureFL.com.
Interested in a category not listed here, and wondering if it is really a certified made in USA product? Learn more at USA-C.com, the leader in certification for “Made in USA” claims.
Whether it’s a green job or not, supporting American manufacturers and companies will keep more greenbacks circulating in the American economy, and will increase the likelihood more of them will end up in your pocket, purse, wallet, or pocketbook.