Gadfly by Mort Malkin
So, most everything sold in Walmart, Dollar General, GAP, Target, and Brooks Brothers is made in China. Higher class goods may be made in Taiwan or South Korea — but still abroad. A paradoxical example is Japan, which produces a few cars in the US South where “right to work” laws (no unions permitted) keep wages from becoming excessive.
There was a time when America was a producer of clothing, autos, tools, tooth picks, widgets & gadgets. Gradually, the US corporations that produced all these things outsourced everything to East Asia — from Bangladesh to Indonesia, China, and all other countries that would cooperate on labor laws that didn’t limit hours per week, didn’t insure minimum pay per hour, and didn’t maintain safety standards for workers.
When there were few American workers left to make things, the corporations selected the brightest and most amenable to work in the service sector — as bank tellers, cashiers, waiters, or VISA card complaint deflectors. In the next phase of the economy, when you called an 800 number, new computer technology made it possible for your call to be answered by a call center in Mumbai or Manilla.
Then, the only jobs left in the US seemed to be in the financial services industry, where the (wheeler) dealers play roulette with the money of retirement funds, municipal bondholders, and individual investors whose investment money they hold. The gambling den is not in the stocks and bonds of publicly traded corporations on the NY Stock Exchange or even the NASDAQ (Over the Counter Exchange). It is in the relatively new casino that grew out of futures trading and then puts & calls — the derivatives market, which keeps no records for the SEC (Security & Exchange Commission) to examine and control. The prime culprits are the too-big-to-fail banks — Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, CitiGroup, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. They even invent fanciful names for the derivatives of other derivatives, such as credit default swaps, iron condors, butterflies, straddles, strangles, spreads, and vanilla options. [You can read more about derivatives in the Gadfly column entitled “Derivatives—Where the Money Is.” See the Gadfly Archives at the Catskill Chronicle.] In any event, the buying and selling of “financial products” in the derivatives hall of mirrors is still producing a few high paying jobs. The trouble is the giant Ponzi scheme, now up to about $4 quadrillion, will blow up one day soon.
But not to worry — there are still two categories where the US still produces more material goods than anyone in the world: a) GMO grains grown on the Great Plains, and b) military hardware at the hundreds of war contractors around the country. Oh all right, they prefer to be called defense contractors.
In the first category, 90% or more of the corn, soy, canola, and cotton grown in the MidWest is genetically engineered (GMO). Most of that grain is for cattle and hogs who become the base of America’s fast food diet. Only the wheat fields are not GMO — because none of the countries we export wheat to will buy the GMO stuff from us. What a bunch of fussbudgets those Europeans, East Asians, Africans and South Americans are.
The Great Plains of the MidWest are fed by the Ogallala Aquifer which is directly beneath the proposed route of the Keystone MX pipeline which, in turn, is planned for transporting Canadian tar sands goop down to Texas where it will be refined for export to the world market. The tar sands bitumen is both very corrosive and viscous and, so, must be forced through the pipeline at high pressures. It is a formula for frequent leaks and pollution of the whole aquifer.
The other category where America produces actual products is at the hundreds of military contractors it supports with billions of taxpayer dollars. Oh, they don’t all get contracts worth billions of dollars — only the top 50 or so are in the range of billions of dollars per year. The next 50 some are in the range of $500 million to $1 billion. And, the dollars to the remaining hundreds of military minded corporations are even less. Among those at the top of the list are: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, United Technologies, BAE Systems, Bechtel, General Atomics, Honeywell, Leidos Holdings, Supreme Group Holdings, Oshkosh Corp, and Coins & Things — all more than $1 billion and ahead of IBM, MIT, and FedEx. But, America has no claim to greatness by being the world’s armorer.
So, how can we Make America Great Again? The Gadfly Revelry & Research team, held a meeting over high tea, and decided that the US could not hope to lead the world in making stuff, not even guns and bombs or predator drones. But, we do have a unique opportunity with the presidential nominations coming up. The US could lead the world in diplomacy and the establishment of peace. We cannot start at the grass roots because the peace movement is still not strong enough. We don’t have a national Peace Academy a la West Point, and we don’t have a national Peace College to match the War College in PA. But, for the first time in history we can establish leadership at the very top.
If diplomacy and negotiations are at the heart of forging Peace, we can elect the one candidate who is expert at the Art of the Deal. Yes, Donald Trump is a deal maker extraordinaire. He will be able to hold sway with enemies and friends by brokering deals as Frank Kellogg did earlier in the 20th century. When The Donald makes America Great Again by bringing his talents to bear in bringing Peace to the world, he will gain a place in history as the Peace Hero of the 21st century. What’s more he will become a philosopher of all time. He will add the Good to Aristotle’s Truth and Beauty.