America's job problem

By Gabriel Costello

It has been a constant refrain this election season: “I am going to bring jobs back to America.”

Nearly every presidential candidate has made this declaration. Even when not stated explicitly, the sentiment is still there. Perhaps no slogan is more memorable than Donald Trump’s, “Make America Great Again.”

On the opposite end of the political spectrum we find a more positive way to say the same thing, Bernie Sanders’, “A future to believe in.”The two slogans look appear to go indifferent directions but acknowledge the same thing. America is in trouble.

If we accept this as a reality that extends beyond political rhetoric, then there is one obvious culprit: deindustrialization. Since the year 2000, America has lost 5.5 million factory jobs. While this number is daunting, in the larger context of a workforce that exceeds 157.1 million, it can still be insulated. This is dangerous. The death of industry in this country has been a silent one.

Today, the largest employer in America is Walmart. This is a problem. Most people working in Walmart’s stores make around $10 an hour. Assuming that they are able to work a 40-hour work week, this comes out to a yearly salary of $20,800. For someone trying to support a family, this is an unlivable wage. To survive, many Walmart employees depend upon government assistance.

This comes as no surprise, but things were not always like this. In the 1950s, after the manufacturing boom of World War II, the largest employer in the United States was General Motors. Their employees made a livable wage. The world was a different place then. In particular, the world was a less industrialized place then. In the years since, the development of places like China and India have radically changed the economic landscape worldwide.

The question that is never asked is why would American corporations stay here and pay a living wage to their workers? There is no such thing as economic nationalism for these companies. Their only loyalties lie with the bottom line. Keeping this in mind, America seems headed toward a deindustrialized future. This is a frightening reality.

But there is a solution present that is rarely discussed: considering the rights of workers in the developing world. Obviously, there are massive obstacles to this.

Realistically, it will be a long time before workers in China will be making a living wage. However, if we looked directly to our south, we’d realize that the struggle of Mexican factory workers being underpaid by General Motors is the same struggle of those workers in the United States who lost their jobs when the factories were moved elsewhere.

It’s an old argument: the workers’ struggle is a singular global struggle. Our politicians do not have the power to stop the deindustrialization of this country. That being said, the electorate needs to demand accountability for what they can do. Our infrastructure needsCC to be rebuilt.

Gabriel is a sophomore in LAS.

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