I seem to be getting a fair amount of private mail to the effect that --
to paraphrase -- 'of couse the corporate executives are irresponsible,
where do they think all these now useless people will go?'
That is, of course, a vastly oversimplified summary, but it is a fair
translation. I can only repeat that we have to understand the systemic
issues here, and not jump to conclusions about who is responsible or
irresponsible. As Bill Hobler said, every time we look at a complex
issue, we discover that underneath the surface, there are surprising,
complex things going on.
Today's paper brings more data. There is an article about South Carolina,
next primary state, and what is happening there from an economic
It's an interesting article. Bottom line is a lot of textile jobs are
being lost because domestic manufacturers can not compete. These jobs are
for high school graduates or less, $6.50/hr jobs.
However, at the same time a lot of new jobs are opening up. Who's hiring?
Michelin, Fuji, Hoechst, BMW.
Are there losers? You better believe it. The textile people do not have
the education or skills for some of the new jobs. On the other hand, the
new jobs pay a lot better for the people who do have the skills.
There is among us a sort of assumption that, of course, those jobs were
always there, and only now is something bad happening to them. However,
if you live in New England, as I do, you can wander into almost any town
and find guess what -- abandoned textile mills. The mills left here early
this century and late the last century. The buildings are still standing
here, a monument to change. Was it a bad thing for those mills to move?
In hindsight, no. At the time there were losers, and it was painful.
Going back to South Carolina today, let me tell you more about the
situation. Average annual salary has risen 38% in the last 10 years,
average manufacturing wage has risen 33%, inflation 42%. No one is
keeping up with inflation.
Unemployment is 5.4%, down from 6.8% a decade ago. Exports to other
countries are triple what they were in 1987. this is not going to take
away the pain, but overall, the situation is not bad.
-- Rol Fessenden LL Bean email@example.com
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