Manufacturing jobs the key to restoring America’s middle class
This letter is in response to David Harsanyi’s Feb. 18 column, “Old-time manufacturing jobs won’t help economy.” While I am not a fan of the president nor government-subsidized factories, I believe we should attempt to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, using protective tariffs as a means of convincing American companies to return to our shores.
Up until we embraced free trade, many Americans supported a family by working in steel mills and other industries that used to be here in America. But because of free trade, those companies relocated to foreign shores to avoid high labor costs and U.S. regulation and environmental laws. With them went thousands of middle-class jobs.
Rather than allow these multinational corporations to make it in China, Vietnam, Latin America, et al., we should go back to a policy where we tell American companies you want to sell it here, you make it here. This should be coupled with a protective tariff that would reflect the cost of production based upon an American worker’s First World wage rather than the low wages of the Third World. These multi-national corporations use foreign workers to amass huge profits, then return the finished product to our shores.
From Colonial times up until the early 1900s, the United States’ primary source of revenue was from trade duties and tariffs. Then Woodrow Wilson became the first in a long line of presidents to sell out the American worker at the altar of free trade, culminating with George W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement].
Not coincidentally, personal income tax was first implemented in 1913, also under Woodrow Wilson. Look around at all the former industrial sites across New York and the country that now sit empty and abandoned. Not everyone is suited for college, and blue-collar jobs were responsible for a thriving middle class. Now those jobs are across the pond or the Rio Grande. Yet, our appetite for goods remains.
The president and Congress should institute a plan whereby a rebirth of American industry could begin. This is not just good policy. it is also a matter of national security. How can a nation sustain itself if it does not have the means to make what it consumes. China now makes many of our high-tech items; do you think that would continue unfettered should we find ourselves at war with China? Re-establishing protective tariffs and duties would encourage companies to make it here in America. Products made in America would be duty-free; products made in foreign lands would be subject to a tariff commensurate with the cost of production had the product been made here.
Products that we are incapable of producing ourselves would be exempt. The United States was a protectionist nation from its inception in 1776 until the early part of the 1900s, and we became the economic juggernaut that was the envy of the world. If we want to be great again, we need to bring manufacturing jobs back to our shores so that we can once again have a thriving middle class that can find a job and raise a family.
Minimum wage hike will have costly consequences
Let’s raise the minimum wage [Feb. 19 Gazette editorial]?
Who are the winners [with a higher minimum wage]? The state and federal governments. They will have their hand in your pocket for a percentage of the increase in your take-home pay. That’s why they are pushing for the increase: to help them balance their budgets.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the increase will soon work its way to the top and add to the cost of everything you buy. More money for the government.
Who are the losers? The small businessman who will not be able to afford the increase and will close up shop. The larger corporations whose profit margins will not stand the increase and will move their business offshore. There will be scads of people applying for unemployment. Of course, we will have to raise the unemployment payment rate because it will not be enough to live on.
How about the seniors who live on a pension and Social Security? Do you think either one of these will increase 24 percent? I guess we know who will pay for the increase in the minimum wage.
Higher minimum wage, less gov’t dependency
Well, at least Gov. Cuomo, and now President Obama, have got it right to increase the minimum wage. At least it’s a start in the right direction toward setting a working wage at least to that of the current poverty level.
Currently, 3.8 million workers earn minimum wage or less, equating to 5.2 percent of hourly paid workers. As the world leader, we need to do a better job providing every American with a living wage and $7.25 per hour just doesn’t cut it anymore, especially when the majority of these jobs are part-time, which causes another problem of underemployment.
Providing all Americans with a living wage would help to reduce the need for these hard-working individuals to seek government assistance for rent, food stamps, heat and other programs that help make ends meet. Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage will also increase an individual’s contribution through increased payroll tax.
Increasing the minimum wage affects a business’s obligation to the worker. Instead of complaining about government, let’s agree to do something about it, and begin to reduce a working individual’s dependency on government assistance by empowering the employer and employee to take fiscal responsibility.
This change may make a business owner’s decisions more challenging, but maybe they should try making ends meet on $7.25 per hour.
Praise Price Chopper for demolishing church
A friend posted a picture of the giant cross being removed from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Watervliet. This massive Italian Renaissance-modeled church is being torn down to build a Price Chopper.
As I started hearing Price Chopper derided as “Church Chopper” and “Priest Chopper,” my Catholic-raised ears tingled. These monikers should be worn with honor by that corporation.
The Catholic Church has been one of the most repressive organizations in the world’s history. It does not recognize women as equal to men, oppresses gays, opposes reproductive rights, has a laundry list of child molestation abuses.
Price Chopper, by destroying possibly the tallest Catholic edifice in the Capital Region, should be congratulated for helping dismantle a religious regime that took me years of therapy to dismantle in myself.
I urge people to not support the Price Chopper boycott, but to thank the store for the important symbolism of its actions.
Why must YMCA build such costly apartments?
I read with interest the story in the Gazette (Feb. 17) about the YMCA’s plans to build apartments for their clients.
As a former housing director at another not-for-profit in Schenectady that provides services to the homeless, I am quite familiar with the needs of the particular population in question, as well as the costs involved in rehabbing property.
I have no doubt that the apartments in question will be a great improvement over the current housing options available to the men now living at the YMCA. However, as a taxpayer and resident of Schenectady for 26 years, I have to question the wisdom of spending $25 million for 155 apartments that are 400 square feet each.
According to my estimates, that’s approximately $160,000 per apartment. Is it just me, or does that seem a little steep?
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