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View Diary: Krugman: "The Competition Myth" (292 comments)

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  •  Lots of talk about creating jobs but nobody (31+ / 0-)

    seems to say what kind of jobs they will be.  What does competitiveness mean?  It's trying to do something better than others.  What are we going to try to do better than others?  It's all bullshit without a real plan with specifics. Face it, American citizens are not that skilled.  Full employment isn't going to come from the creation of more high level management or professional jobs.   We aren't going to transform the country into a nation of high performers.  We need jobs that the common people can perform, which has been manufacturing.  But the deck is stacked because they can make it for ten cents somewhere else.  So what again does competitiveness mean?  

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:47:15 PM PST

    •  We are all Mexicans now (16+ / 0-)

      they might be too expensive these days come to think of it.

      We are all Chinese now.

      If you can't work for what they do you obviously can't compete.

      Please won't you think of the poor corporations?

      •  Not really. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        virginislandsguy

        Amerians make several times the wages of Chinese.

        And both countries have similar unemployment levels.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 03:48:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well (4+ / 0-)

          That was my point.

          We can't compete until our wages match theirs.

          many corps have already left Mexico to take advantage of even lower wages elsewhere.

          I assume that is what the corporate oligarchs and their minions in our gov't want.

          •  Compete on what baisis (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alizard, jiffypop, neroden

            As is being discussed elsewere on this thread, quite a few developed nations are also export led economies (I cited some statistics) and I think it's worth understanding how they do that.

            As far as I know, the workers benifits for people in Ireland, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland etc are as go if not better than the US but these nationas take a different approach.

            Likewise, many American companies quite sucessfully export or the US would have zero.

            So my question is how to translate the formula into better policy and supports to promote revitalization of US industries. In fact Obama is trying but Congressional support is pretty weak.

            Ultimately, you could make the same argement about China - lots of companies have left for other, cheaper countries because they consider China too expensive - at the bottom of the food chain that is always the case.

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:56:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  No, Mexico's establishing single-payer (0+ / 0-)

        health care, one province at a time.

        China's building high-speed rail nationwide.

        What the hell are we getting?  The US industrial boom in the 19th century brought real quality-of-life improvements along with its miseries and abuses.  But what are we getting in exchange for the robber-baronism now?  Mexico and China are getting something, what are we getting?

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 10:04:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Part of the reason (22+ / 0-)
      China is so competitive is their attitude towards regulation.  US businesses must comply with laws restricting pollution, minimum wage, worker safety, consumer safety, etc.  These costs are not borne by Chinese companies to the same degree, giving them another competitive advantage.

      The answer is not to start paying our workers dramatically less and letting more of them die on the job.  Nor must we suffer environmental destruction or dangerous products.  

      We could simply employ a penalty (a countervailing tariff) for those products that are not manufactured in compliance with the same laws our American companies must obey.  

      This would not solve the entire problem, but it would reduce the comparative burden on US companies and create a few more jobs here.

      •  Exactly right. You stop the race to the bottom by (18+ / 0-)

        forcing China and others to compete on our terms.  I would suggest using the money that comes in from the tariff to invest in American businesses.  The debate should be framed as part of a green jobs initiative and a "made in America" initiative.  Not necessarily demonizing a country or its exports to the US but celebrating American business and pursuing a new path forward based on green technology and new ways of doing things.  We sell the idea of a green revolution in the US as innovation that will put us in front when the future demands greener technology.  We do what we do best, innovate and create instead of trying to play by rules where we and any other non-emerging economy can't compete.

        •  Re Made in America/Buy American (15+ / 0-)

          Is America Too Corrupt To Keep Up?. . .
          Evidently, not within our own government. As "Buy China" policies now economically supercharge the world's most populous nation, the White House and congressional Republicans have opposed many of the very "Buy America" proposals that might help us keep up — and that obstruction has come at a steep price.

          Remember, Businessweek in 2008 warned that in an America with few domestic purchasing mandates, any economic stimulus — whether spending or tax cuts — would likely "leak" abroad, thus "reducing its impact on jobs here." When congressional Democrats responded in 2009 by trying to expand the meager "Buy America" regulations still on the books from the Great Depression, President Obama opposed the effort. He argued that targeting stimulus dollars at domestic investment would "send a protectionist message."
          [Bolding mine]
          . . .

          "As Bloomberg News reported during the stimulus negotiations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce fiercely lobbied against the "Buy America" provisions when Congress debated them, just as the group lobbies against similar proposals today. That may seem strange coming from an organization whose name pays homage to this country. But don't be fooled: The chamber is a front group for huge multinational firms whose first priority is not this nation's economy, but a profit-maximizing business model based on exporting jobs and production facilities to low-wage countries abroad."

          David Sirota
          [Remember when we used to get his stuff? Thanks loads ****bots!]

          Read the entire essay (IMHO, a must read) at: Creators.com

          Alito. Kennedy. Roberts. Scalia. Thomas.
          More important than ever: ERA NOW!

          by greeseyparrot on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:27:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Frame it as (7+ / 0-)

          You stop the race to the bottom by forcing China and others to compete on our terms

          a switch from exporting jobs to exporting American standards. Let our export to the world be a higher standard of living, a living wage, union protections for workers. Instead of scrapping OSHA and the EPA, let's export them to where they are desperately needed. Let's export the weekend, the 40 hour week, and an end to sweatshops, child labor, and slave labor.

          Let's export what's good about the American way of work, instead of exporting jobs and importing lower standards.

          Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

          by drewfromct on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:20:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well done (4+ / 0-)

            That also resonates well with me for the hypocrisy I have witnessed for so many years as we tout our beacon of liberty myth while simultaneously overthrowing democratic regimes and replacing them with right wing dictators.

            Whenever I hear politicians proclaim that we are exporting freedom and democracy I want to puke. All we have exported for many decades is greed, corruption and hardship. A few minor exceptions noted.

          •  Bravo! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            drewfromct, pgm 01

            Exporting the values of a just and sustainable world sounds like a very good idea to me. The more so because, in order to do that, we would have to practice them here.

            Speaking of justice and sustainability, this line from Krugman provides something to think about IMHO:

            And we can’t all export more while importing less, unless we can find another planet to sell to.

            "Competitiveness" by definition implies that there are winners and losers. While I certainly don't want to see the US in the losers column, to be a winner means that one or more other countries must lose. Taking a planet-wide perspective, this is essentially an exercise in cost-shifting. Our own fortunes may improve, but on a whole-system basis, there is no increase in justice or well being.

            Also, "competitiveness" as a guiding philosophy provides strong incentives to maximize exploitation of resources. In the long run, it's not where we want to go.

        •  That still hurts the poor. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pgm 01

          What tarriffs would succeed in doing is spiking the price of every day manufactured goods significantly.

          We tried raising tarriffs during the Great Depression and it was a disaster.  Mind you, back then imports and exports were only a small part of our economy...

      •  Yes. And these tariffs should have been the (7+ / 0-)

        backbone of any free trade agreements that were made.  It's amazing how we've spent two trillion dollars, ten years and thousands of lives to bring the example of democracy to two Middle Eastern countries but when we were formulating free trade agreements we couldn't be bothered to put in place the structures necessary to bring American middle class dignity to the countries our management class was going to exploit.

        Really shows our values.

        Democracy is often an indictment of the voting populace.

        by electricgrendel on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 01:29:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on the case. (3+ / 0-)

        Suggesting China doesn't have such laws is urban myth. The issue is the degree to which they are followed or enforced.

        In very poor areas and bottom tier companies the case can be quite poor as you suggest, but in developed area and mid to top tier companies regulations are enfored and China has many word-class operations.

        The factory I work in is far more modern, clean, safe an efficient that one I worked in 20 years ago in the US after I graduated university.

        And I should add, that about 4 years ago when China was introducing a new labor law, who was making the most noise about "Draconion Regulations" were muntinational corporations, particularly AMCHAN, which should surprise no one.

        China is a fundamentally poorer country than the US juat as Vietnam, etc, are poorer than China.

        So if a company is just chasing cheep labor and lack of regulations, they will move from country to country to do so and that is exactly how some operate.

        Right now a "China plus one" strategy is quite common for such industries. It means they keep an operation in China for high line products and for China market produts and then go to lower wage countries for low-end products to get the cheapest labor. I assure you factories in Pakistan ans Bangladesh are not as nice as China.

        And this has been the case of "working-up the value chian" since the industrial revolution.

        England => US => Japan => Hong Kong => Korea => China => Thailand => Vietnam => India => Pakistan => Bagladesh .... rise/repeat.

        Read Charles Dickens or Upton Sinclair. A centry ago things were not different in England or the USA.

        London was a sewer pit of pollution choked with coal smoke and Lake Erie was as polluted as some Chinese rivers are today, or Japan 40 years ago.

        And the wealthy of Europe looked down their noses on the working classes suggesting just as much.

        It's quite human.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:09:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is exactly why (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PrahaPartizan, Sychotic1

          So if a company is just chasing cheep labor and lack of regulations, they will move from country to country to do so and that is exactly how some operate.

          we should be slapping massive, punitive tariffs on goods and services imported from nations which willfully refuse to enact or enforce American-style regulations for the protection of workers, consumers, and the environment. The Race To The Bottom will continue unabated as long as the slave drivers have unfettered access to what is still the world's biggest and richest market.

          Instead of exporting our jobs, we should be exporting our standards. Global trade should be about raising standards, not lowering them.

          Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

          by drewfromct on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:26:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK then ... (0+ / 0-)

            we should be slapping massive, punitive tariffs on goods and services imported from nations which willfully refuse to enact or enforce American-style regulations for the protection of workers, consumers, and the environment.

            And should Europeans do likewise to the US?

            The problem I see in any case is that there is no way to wave a magic wand over the world and transform poor countries into wealthy ones overnight, and the fact is companies from wealthy countries are part and parcel of the system.

            Another point you may consider is that most of the economic growth in the world today is in developing nations and this will ontinue to be the case for the forseable fututre.

            Many people who are working to improve conditions in poor countries suggest a middle road where pressure is put on buyers and governments to improve conditions rather than the punative approach that, in effect, inhibits economic growth and Liberalization.

            It's a fact of life that in some places of the world, children toil to live. That's not good, but it's better than them staving, which is the other alternative.

            And I have to add two last points: (a) weathy countries were not always so and worked through similar processes of developement (as I noted elseware) and (b) wealthy countries continue to exploit the resources (including human) in these countries and if the end result is you slap the rape victim for being poor, it, um, adds insult to injury.

            Suggest you reconsider how this works.

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:14:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This doesn't negate the point (0+ / 0-)

          in fact if we did this it might actually put a damper on the race to the bottom.

          Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

          by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:12:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well ..... (0+ / 0-)

            What is the race to the bottom?

            In one sense it is the equalization of poverty, ie, putting people around the world on the same level.

            The alternative (in practice) is that wealthy countries continue to enjoy their advantages atr the expense of the poor.

            For example: "advanced" economies tend to control markets, technology, intellectual property, etc, which they guard jealously as their "posessions" while consuming a disproportionate amount of resources which generally come from poor countries at a low price because "ideas" like an iPod have "insanely great" value to humanity while the materials and labor that produces them is "chip shit" (often hear it referred to that on Liberal blogs including Dkos0.

            Well, in the viewpoint of Class Struggle that is one fucked-up value system and in the view of Charles Dickens or Sinclar Lewis, the grist of classic literature.

            So I do sympatize with the privlidged when they lose some of those privlidges, but what is the real cost of this?

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:24:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  This is exactly what we must do (0+ / 0-)

        and what I have been saying all along.  Fair trade with standards set by us.  We are still one of the largest consumer markets and we can set these rules.

        Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:10:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think Grmany is a good model (5+ / 0-)

      In the German system, at high school there is a split to University track and Vocational track.

      On the vocational track they will test and try to match students interests to jobs in demand and provide the requisite traing to prepare for a 2 year technical school.  After that graduates will seek apprentiship positions where they work for 2-4 more years at entry wages before graduating to journeyman position.

      And the inportiant thing is all sizes of German companies particupate, particularly the SME's who really depend more on skillful workers than Universty grads.

      This means it's possible for the SME to produce at a higher caliber.

      You are correct, no soley needs just Universiy grads and sometimes teaching a trade can be better than sending people to University only to have them be dissapointed later as over-educated Service workers.

      But from what I understand, US educators are against such 2-track systems until the second track becomes re-training.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 03:46:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am all for it (0+ / 0-)

        I just don't want people forced into one track or another.

        Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:14:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand that. (0+ / 0-)

          Freedom of choice is a basic concept of American society.

          But the practical embodiment of it might not be as good as it sounds in principle.

          Most people in the world don't get so many choices and I think that goes for an increasing number of Americans.

          What I think is good and worth emulating from the German system is:

          :: The government is really engaged with industry and works to deliver the skills companies really need - I think that is a win-win for companies and workers.

          :: The industrial culture puts a high value on workers skills and versatility, which is the advantage of humand over machines - treat each for what they are.

          So there probably would be a middle way to learn from and addapt some of these ideas.

          I have to think that a lot of people who are not headed for university would jump at the chance to recieve training for a trade verses getting stuck in low paid, low skilled jobs, or unemployment.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:33:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  how many college students (4+ / 0-)

      are going to go into massive debt to go into sci-tech professions where if they get hired, they'll work until an offshore operation replaces their jobs? If you want students to go into productive professions instead of getting an MBA or law or marketing degree, they have to believe that getting those degrees is an actual career path. I don't know of anyone who encourages their kids to go into IT. Change the incentives and we'll probably have a big bunch of new grads in technology in 2 years and a much bigger bunch in 4.

      WRT to the abilities of the American factory worker, many American factories are already highly automated, and operated for the most part by those ordinary people whose abilities you don't believe in.

      Back when I was reading trade magazines for the electronic manufacturing industry in the late 1980s, I was amazed by some of the complex things (management of automated production machinery using statistical analysis for debugging, for instance) factory floor employees with some classroom training were getting paid to do.  Note that those kinds of tasks would be simpler now, desktops are far more powerful... as are tablet computers and netbooks. Bottom line, if we can get the factories in operation, don't worry about finding competent employees. Our labor pool is drastically underutilized, not incompetent.

      IOW, you've been sold a bill of goods by employers whose incentives are to persuade a dozen or a hundred students to cough up large blobs of cash and spend 4 years of life to discover that only the top few percent are cherry-picked for hiring.

      Your concept that America can only compete with the Third World in a race to the bottom sounds a lot like centrist public policy, but it doesn't make it good.

      However, perhaps more to the point, we already have $2.6T in pent up demand for fixing the nation's civil infrastructure, and the majority of jobs in this area don't require rocket scientists to do. Where's WPA 2.0? It didn't happen because while it would be profitable for the wealthy, it isn't as profitable as direct wealth capture with the help of government is.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:09:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  correction to above (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Virginia mom

        IOW, you've been sold a bill of goods by employers whose incentives are to persuade a dozen or a hundred times as many students to cough up large blobs of cash and spend 4 years of life to discover that only the top few percent are cherry-picked for hiring.

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:21:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Good point about WPA 2.0! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alizard, neroden, fille americaine

        Why this isn't being discussed seriously in policy circles and the media I will never understand though I know why. The focus of American government is on "security" and the Empire. The U.S. is the garrison state for the international oligarchy--as such it needs to have a sizable poor population that will enlist in the military--this is not by design necessarily it's just that's the only place the U.S. has a real competitive advantage--we love violence and nearly half the people are religious fanatics who believe the U.S. has been appointed by God to whatever.

        •  agreed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard

          I've always wondered by there wasn't a WPA 2.0, but I really do think it's about having enough poor and desperate bodies for the military industrial empire. My husband and I were seriously discussing him joining the military (he could be an officer) but then it kind of pissed me off because it'd be doing exactly what the elites wanted us to do. THEY won't spend any of the horded cash they have to hire him, so we would be giving into them if he joined up. This country just sucks sometimes. He is Canadian-American so we've discussed moving to Canada, but I don't know if the job market is any better there than it is here. At least we wouldn't have to worry about getting sick I gues...

          Husband looking for work in NoVA/DC! Skilled in web content manag. & Photoshop. Please email me at adorgan@hotmail.com if you have any leads!

          by fille americaine on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 11:25:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm inclined towards the "Mafia bust-out" (0+ / 0-)

          scenario when thinking of what the real plans of the oligarchy are for America. If one plans to torch the place once the easy to get value is extracted, one puts the absolute minimum into repairs and maintenance. (see also the stimulus)

          As opposed to the $2T+ the ASCE says is required to bring America's civil infrastructure up to the First World standards required to get businesses to pay First World premiums to do business in America.

          If the oligarchy had long-term plans to do business in America, the money would be getting spent. Particularly given the lack of demand, money spent on infrastructure would go a lot farther than it usually would, stimulus program projects were often coming in under budget.  

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 05:16:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  SOTU 2010 (4+ / 0-)

      "That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010. . ."

      We have seen where Obama's focus on jobs has gotten us in 2010.  Having given up on that he wants to pound us flat with his idea of corporate competitiveness.

      Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

      by Fossil on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 06:32:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is no there there (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, BigAlinWashSt, caryltoo

      So it will have to emerge out of the general mix of things.

      The U.S. once had a cultural attitude of independence and creativity. The ideal of less regulation existed in the hopes that if you wanted to start a business you just set up your little pushcart or whatever and started doing things that people wanted. Today the entrance into business often involves regulations that, as a practical matter, only allow large companies or wealthy people to compete. Between permits and requirements (based on laws promoted by monopoly capitalists) it is pretty hard for people to start businesses and compete. I'm not suggesting that we eliminate regulations only that the regulations not be written by monopolists.

      In addition, few people want to take chances with their money or quit their jobs to start businesses because the cost is so high if you fail--particularly health insurance costs. If we had a socialized system of health insurance perhaps more people would take a chance--if they failed they could live in their parent's basements for a couple of years and get back into it and they wouldn't have to worry that they'd be in bankruptcy if they got ill.

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