Jobs Needed Now

by: Mike Lux

Thu Oct 01, 2009 at 14:00

I just got back from a country where everybody seems pretty happy with their health care system, Canada. It was a little weird to hear people talking about dealing with health care without anyone bitching about insurance companies, or being warned about what would happen to their health care if they switched jobs or had a pre-existing condition.

I was in Vancouver to give a speech and sign some books at a meeting of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). I have a great fondness for the Machinists because their President when I was coming of age in the early 1980s was a fire-breathing, hell-raising trade unionist named Bill Wipinsinger, who gave some of the best speeches I have ever seen in my life, and who never backed down from challenging authority; and also because my greatest political mentor was an Iowa Machinist named Bill Fenton, who was the hardest drinker, best organizer, and most fearless political rabble-rouser I ever knew. When I was a young community organizer, I organized a union for my organization, and it was an easy pick to affiliate with the Machinists.

At the Machinists meeting, we of course spent a lot of time talking about health care and the fight for a public option, but the other big topic of the meeting was the fight for mere jobs, especially manufacturing jobs. I firmly believe that without a more aggressive focus on creating good jobs in manufacturing and infrastructure, which have a bigger multiplier effect than any other kind of jobs, that our economy will continue to sputter, and that Democratic politics will be in a world of hurt.

The big industrial unions with the most at stake in terms of the issue of manufacturing jobs - the IAMAW, UAW, Steelworkers, Teamsters - do not by themselves have the political power right now to force the Democrats to go down this path, to do more investments in creating these jobs, to stop being pansies with other countries so often on trade issues, to invest in the manufacturing sectors with the most promise. Hopefully, they can get the broader progressive movement to join in this cause. But Democrats would be very foolish not to see the economic and political wisdom of doing this ASAP.

We are seeing glimmers of this with Obama. The investments made by the stimulus bill and his first budget proposal made were decent starts, and finally standing up to the Chinese on the tire issue was very welcome. But we are going to need to see a lot more in the way of serious job initiatives if this badly wounded economy is going to start producing jobs.

Mike Lux :: Jobs Needed Now

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Jobs Needed Now | 10 comments
I cannot for the life of me understand why. (4.00 / 1)
we aren't buying windmills and leasing farmland to put them up.

They will produce jobs immediately. Just buy them off the frigging shelf, until there no more left on the shelf, so they have to be manufactured. Order the damn things from GM.

They will develop an industry that we need.

They will reduce carbon emissions immediately.

They are needed immediately.

They replace coal fed power stations.

hey reduce our need for foreign oil.

The pay for themselves, the money will flow back into coffers.

They can be partnered with many other groups and leverage higher investment, I like municipal power utilities. 1 million bucks gives you enough electricity for 250 to 500 homes. 1 billion bucks is, obviously, power for 250,000 to half a million homes.

This is work right now, shovel ready, and its exactly the right direction to go.

Pass a law that states that solar or wind electricity systems that can feed the grid have to be purchased, must be purchased, at a fixed rate, 1 cent higher than the highest local rate. This is essentially what Germany does, and it now has 250,000 working in the field.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

wind farms (0.00 / 0)
Right now, on my wife's family farm, there are 3 operatng windmills, part of 125 operating in Atchison County, MO. They are generating all the electricity for the county and selling more off to the power grid. The problem? We don't manufacture very many windmills in this country, they are manufactured in Spain, which has an industrial policy to promote the hell out of wind and solar manufacturing.

[ Parent ]
re: windmills (0.00 / 0)
The problem? We don't manufacture very many windmills in this country, they are manufactured in Spain,

it shouldn't be difficult to start manufacturing them here?

[ Parent ]
It is not the highest art, but improvemnets are happening all the time. (0.00 / 0)
I am sure we can build wind generators. We are smart.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Boy Howdy! (4.00 / 1)
Wipinsinger was not "just" a great speaker and inspiring leader, he was also a very clear thinker in a time when all sorts of foolish abounded.

The need for industrial job development ties into so many different things it would make your head spin.  HousesofProgress points to examples of the immediate logic--which will only deepen over time.

My diaries last weekend about income inequality & the financialization of the economy both tie into the subject as well, since good-paying manufacturing jobs stood at the core of the New Deal system, and the beginning of their mass demise in the early Reagan era was keyed to both growing finanicialization and growing income inequality.

These jobs also served to anchor entire communities, providing real substance for meeting needs related to community, stability, meaning and purpose that now are ripe pickings for rightwing fantasies.

So, really, it's hard to think of another issue that can have the sort of far-reaching impact that rebuilding our manufacturing sector could have.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Enact public option health care reform (4.00 / 1)
Reducing payroll costs for health care benefits will enable employers to hire more workers. Putting more money in (small) business hands = JOBS! That's basic Village gospel. Health care reform with a public option means more jobs.

Take the public's economy/jobs concerns and make them you ally in this fight.  I don't understand why this isn't a major part of the sales rhetoric for health care reform...

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

If they passed universal, medicare for all, (4.00 / 1)
it would be a huge shot in the arm.  Our companies would be more competitive.  The schools and state and local government would get all of that costs out of their budgets, making them solvent over night.   People would finally be safe from predatory insurance and practitioners because they wouldn't be looking to save money instead of access health care.

The fact that the Democrats don't do this, and pay for it by getting the hell out of both wars and raising taxes on the rich, is why they suck.  

Problem (4.00 / 1)
The problem with industrial jobs is that in many ways, those are the jobs of yesterday. Globalization and technology are the chief culprits because one, people in China or Mexico can do it cheaper, and two, machines can do it faster and cheaper.

Regardless of trade tariffs or the what not, the fact is that the average Chinese doing the same job as an average American will be paid less, and do more or less an equally good job. Why would any manufacturer want to build in the US then? The only way to make this work is to subsidize production which happened in the case of GM/Chrysler. If you go to a store, would you in your right mind pay more for something when you could pay less?

The second is technology, a good deal of manufacturing can be completely done by machines. They don't require health insurance, they don't require sleep, and they aren't prone to human errors. They are cheaper in the long term and they are faster than humans.

In many ways, machines does work that was once up to human labor. Now, this is good in some ways, but what it also does is devalue human labor. Human labor use to be valuable because work could only be done by humans. Now that a lot of the work could be done by machines, many people have skills that are simply irrelevant. Much as farming is no longer a valuable skill for most of us because we've given up to giant mechanical farming machines operated by one or two "farmers", a lot of other manufacturing labor intensive jobs have also gone this way.

Ultimately, this contributes to the decline in manufacturing unions. Because the commodity these unions have is human labor and human labor is becoming less valuable given the alternatives, unions themselves will have less to bargain with. The real commodity now is human knowledge. You can see this already in every facet of industry.

There's nothing wrong with this, its just how society progresses.

Agrarian -> Industrial -> Informational

Its only natural we evolve to take more advantage of our mind and less reliant on our physical abilities.

Europe, Japan (4.00 / 1)
Far more advanced than us in many different ways, better education system, very high tech. But they still have a big manufacturing sector, because they have industrial policies that promote and prioritize it.  

[ Parent ]
Human institutions and developments (0.00 / 0)
are not natural. Things made by human beings, including economies, can be changed by human beings.  These developments you describe are products of public policies - and can be changed by public policy.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

[ Parent ]
Jobs Needed Now | 10 comments

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