Prepare yourselves, JimOnLight.com readers, I’m about to ramble.
I just read a very disappointing article by Mike Elk at the Huffington Post. I guess at this point in the scope of American manufacturing, money handling, crooked business practices, and corporations rear-ending the population out of everything we’ve saved in past years that I shouldn’t be surprised.
Oh, but I am. I am surprised, and I’m starting to get a little more than frustrated with all of the lies and corporate BS.
Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, a major player in lighting and sustainable electricity generation, has been leading the charge over the last bit of time on bringing jobs to the United States and doing all kinds of butt-kicking exporting. He even made a nice little speech a few weeks ago in Detroit. I’ve gone ahead and highlighted some portions for you to emphasize my point:
Throughout my career, America has seen so much economic growth that it was easy to take it as a given. We prospered from the productivity of the information age. But, we started to forget the fundamentals and lost sight of the core competencies of a successful modern economy. Many bought into the idea that America could go from a technology-based, export-oriented powerhouse to a services-led, consumption-based economy – and somehow still expect to prosper.
That idea was flat wrong. And what did we get in the bargain? We’ve seen a great vanishing of wealth. Our competitive edge has slipped away, and this has hit the middle class hard.
As a nation, we’ve been consuming more than we earn, saved too little and taken on far too much debt. Growth in research and development has slowed. Our country has made too little progress on some of the defining challenges of our time – like clean energy and affordable health care. Our budget and trade deficits have reached levels that are clearly not sustainable.
While some of America’s competitors were throttling up on manufacturing and R&D, we deemphasized technology. Our economy tilted instead toward the quicker profits of financial services. While our financial services business has performed well, I can’t tell you that we were entirely free of these errors. We weren’t.
Leaders missed many opportunities to add to the capabilities of America. In 2000, the U.S. had a positive trade balance of high-tech products. By 2007, our trade deficit of the same products reached $50 billion. We have already lost our leadership in many growth industries, and other new opportunities are at risk. Trust in business is badly shaken, and it is going to take awhile to get it back.
Third: We must make a serious commitment to manufacturing and exports. This is a national imperative. We all know that the American consumer cannot lead our recovery. This economy must be driven by business investment and exports.
We should set a national goal to create high value added jobs and have manufacturing jobs be no less than 20 percent of total employment, about twice what it is today. And we should commit ourselves to compete and win with American exports.
Wow, this is really uplifting, right? GO AMERICA! Unfortunately, at the same time Immelt was barking at the American exporting tree, he was also canceling a large order for wind turbine parts from a company called ATI Casting Service in LaPorte, Indiana, and ordering the parts from a Chinese company for import. Way to go, Jeff. That doesn’t seem to me to be a good way to keep your stock price up, you know what I’m sayin’, Jeffy?
The one thing I don’t think I’ll ever understand (probably because I’ll never be obscenely rich) is how much money you have to have to be happy. I can’t see myself being all Scrooge McDuck with a big pool of cash, but I feel like I’m the kind of person that would feed back into the growth of things like, well, my industry, for one. I certainly wouldn’t lie about it, especially if I was the CEO of General Electric.
Just recently, this company ATI Casting made a large investment in operations to meet the demands of GE’s need. From Mike Elk’s article:
Recently, ATI made $30 million worth of investments to buy, convert, and modernize a shuttered factory in economically ravaged Michigan so the company could provide more parts to GE as the green economy expands with federal stimulus funding. But a Chinese firm underbid ATI, and the factory faced having to lay off 302 union workers and shutter the plant.
In an aggressive bid to keep the factory open, ATI offered to match the price of the Chinese producers. GE once again said they would prefer to buy from China. The ATI plant is now closed, the jobs gone.
Oh yeah – did I mention that Jeff Immelt is on President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board? Did I also mention that GE is bagging millions in economic stimulus money?
An article at the Detroit Bureau comments more on Immelt’s “all-go-no-quit-big-nuts” commentary on exporting:
Immelt said the only way out of the current predicament is for the U.S. to invest more in research and development. Second, the U.S. needs to address the challenge of clean energy and affordable health care and third, make a serious commitment to manufacturing and exports. Manufacturing jobs should represent 20% of the U.S. employment base not the current 10% which is shrinking.
China is pushing manufacturing, he said. “America has got to get back in the game,” said Immelt.
Immelt also said U.S. business should welcome government intervention as a catalyst for change. “Over the last generation, America’s ‘Service strategy’ was too weak and our goals were too low,” he said.
Really. I mean, I totally agree – but how, Jeffy My Boy, are we supposed to be exporting jobs and sinking money into American technology when you’re dumping money into China’s economy and NOT dumping it into the economy you keep preaching needs saving? Pick one, already!
Jeffy boy, if I could offer a little advice – if you lie, you have to remember all of the parts and pieces of your story. If you tell the truth, that’s all you have to remember. You and Tim Geithner need to have some classes in etiquette.