Economic Patriotism

Obama Economic RecordThe election last Tuesday returned the Republicans to the majority party in the Senate and further solidified their hold on the House.

While I’m personally disappointed with the results, the most upsetting thing about this election was voter turnout. Only 36.4% of eligible voters went to the polls, the lowest in 72 years. In 1942 the turnout was 33.9% because a large portion of the population was off fighting World War II. What is this generation’s excuse?

Anyway, I wouldn’t say the Republicans won the election so much as Democrats lost it. I took a few screencaps from this week’s Meet the Press (left) and this is the ‘terrible’ economic record the Democrats ran away from. Chuck Todd’s assertion is that rural America hasn’t felt the recovery and that’s why the Republicans regained the majority. It’s true that rural America has suffered from a decades-long decline in manufacturing jobs, mostly due to outsourcing. (And which party supports businesses maximize their profits by any means necessary?) So even though the economy has rebounded, the recovery has most benefitted those at the top and things haven’t changed much for those outside of urban centers doing professional jobs.

Frankly, it’s hard for me to have an abundance of sympathy. I don’t mean to sound heartless, but if there aren’t any jobs where you live, you have two choices:  stay and complain about it or move somewhere that does have jobs. You’re an American for one reason—one of your ancestors looked around and decided they wanted a better life and so they left their country in search of greater opportunity. That is the American way.

You can’t stipulate that ‘government can’t create jobs, and then blame the government when there aren’t enough jobs. The government can and does have a big impact on creating the right economic conditions for business to thrive. So while I think the Obama administration has done a good job of fixing the previous administration’s mess, I blame the companies that have outsourced all the jobs, especially those in the manufacturing sector, for America’s long-term economic woes.

Manufacturing builds middle classes. It’s that simple. Every country we outsource to eventually builds their own middle class. Their wages rise and then labor costs / the cost of doing business becomes ‘too high,’ so we outsource to a different country. Rinse and repeat. First it was Mexico, then China, now it’s southeast Asia, the subcontinent, South America, Eastern Europe and Africa. When the chase for lower labor and manufacturing costs pushes outsourcing to enough emerging economies, the global cost of doing business will eventually equalize, and then what?

I believe that the companies that figure out a sustainable, local production model first will be the best positioned in the market to not only be successful but be the dominant players in their industry going forward. And that’s the type of company I’d like to see more of, and the type of company I’d like to build. As I’ve said before, decimating your customer base is just bad for business, so the best way to support your community and country is to create and keep jobs local.