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Wednesday, 22 February 2012 12:21

Parting Shots - Key Stone

Written by  Bill Lowry
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Parting Shots

By Wm. R. Lowry
Former Editor & Publisher, MiBiz
[email protected]

Notable Quotes

“You could say, as many do, that shipping jobs overseas is no big deal because the high-value work - and much of the profits - remains in the U.S. That may well be so. But what kind of a society are we going to have if it consists of highly paid people doing high-value-added work - and masses of unemployed?”

-- Andy Grove, Co-founder & former CEO, Intel Corp.

Key Note

Job creation kicked off 2012 in a positive way with some 250,000 Americans being added to the ranks of the employed. As a result, the nation's unemployment rate again edged lower, dipping to 8.3 percent. High-fives were flying throughout the White House and elation enveloped the national broadcast news anchors. Happy Days are here again? As is the norm in today's agenda-driven journalistic circles, little to no attention was paid to the fine print in the Labor Department's monthly report, which revealed that 1.2 million additional Americans had been dropped from the labor force. Presto: lower rate!

Using round numbers, and real math, some 2 million jobs have been created over the past three years -- an accomplishment worthy of recognition -- excepting that 8 million American jobs were lost in the Great Recession and beyond.

Seems to me that reporting out the net number of existing jobs against prior periods -- including gains and loses -- would clearly provide a much more accurate picture of the vitality of our economy and, in turn, real-time results of political policies that affect it.

Lost & Found

Many so-called economic experts are quick to relieve Washington of any culpability in these massive job losses, citing global competitive factors in the manufacturing sphere, aided by America's fundamental shift to a knowledge-based economy. As the narrative goes, these jobs are lost forever and the solution lies simply in worker retraining.

But a funny thing has happened on our way to this new and more sophisticated stage of economic evolution - a rising tide in domestic manufacturing and the clarion call for unbundling the myriad costly regulations that rendered American industry largely uncompetitive as the global economy evolved. In short, the path once declared irreversible is proving rather to be a two-way track - and not a moment too soon.

Andy Grove, Intel co-founder and former CEO, schooled the country in a piece called “How to Make an American Job” (Bloomberg Businessweek, June 5, 2010). In it, he lays out with clarity the case for effective involvement of the government in targeting the growth of manufacturing industries as the most effective means to job creation. Countering the neo-knowledge crowd, Grove points to the 10X Factor: For every one American high-value knowledge worker - whether in tech or manufacturing or innovation - 10 basic manufacturing jobs are created overseas. To capture these jobs, Grove calls on America to adopt a job-centric economic theory - and job-centric political leadership.

Heresy to free marketeers? No statist, Grove grew up under a Hungarian Fascist dictatorship, Nazi occupation, several Communist regimes and a populist uprising during which many contemporaries were killed. Grove champions not government created, owned nor chosen industries, but rather sound policies, regulations, taxes and incentives that serve to encourage American companies to manufacture domestically the products dreamed up here.

Grove concludes, “If we want to remain a leading economy, we change on our own, or change will continue to be forced upon us.”

Key Stone

Speaking of job-centric, put this in your jobs pipe and have the Administration smoke it: TransCanada Corp. says its Keystone XL pipeline project is shovel-ready and the company is poised to put 20,000 Americans -- pipe fitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, etc -- to work to construct the pipeline. It claims local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local restaurants, hotels and suppliers. It also projects that it will pay $5 billion in taxes over the lifetime of the project, which will support jobs in government, schools, infrastructure maintenance, etc.

To all of this benefit, the jobs-starved U.S. has replied, in effect, “Thanks, we'll think about it and get back to you on it sometime in the future.”

The Keystone affair mirrors to a tee and brings to life the politically incorrect Taggart Transcontinental in Ayn Rand's 1957 classic “Atlas Shrugged.”

As government leaves jobs -- and peoples' lives -- hanging in the balance, one cannot help but ask, “Who is John Galt.”

Perhaps the Keystone backers would have received a more positive reception had it engaged new American pop culture icon Keith Stone to do its bidding. Keith, pitchman for Coors' Keystone Light beer, is said to epitomize smoothness. Let's face it, doing business in Washington, D.C. these days definitely requires a smooth operator.

Read 1810 times Last modified on Sunday, 12 August 2012 14:56

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