Digging our own graves

Columnist : Albert Paschall

China’s minister of trade and ‘cooperation’ Shi Guangsheng is a strange kind of communist. He’s been a dedicated one all of his life but about a year ago he challenged the Congress of the Chinese Communist party to increase China’s foreign trade volume to $2 trillion dollars by 2020. In a speech more reminiscent of Ronald Reagan than Karl Marx he went on to tell the communist congress that his plan would only work if China continued to de-centralize its federal government and loosen its control of China’s 22 provinces.

With an average manufacturing wage of 61 cents an hour and devious manipulation of global markets China is becoming the world’s electronics manufacturing leader. That $2 trillion in just 17 years is a fairly realistic goal especially now that the formerly all-American GE and RCA brands, manufactured by the Chinese, will soon begin appearing on TV’s and DVD players on the shelves of Pennsylvania’s largest employer: Wal-Mart.

Forty five thousand Pennsylvanians now put on their blue vests with the smilie faces every day selling the goods the Chinese, Mexicans and Chileans make for us. Foreign production is one of the big reasons why we’ve lost nearly 230,000 manufacturing jobs in the state in the last decade, about half of them in the last 2 years. Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association president Jim Panyard cites generous free trade agreements as the cause of the state’s job hemorrhage. Calling for a moratorium on new agreements Panyard said: “if you’re in a hole stop digging.”

He’s right, Congress has been digging us into the free trade hole since the NAFTA agreement a decade ago but we’ve dug at least half the hole ourselves. In Pennsylvania we seem to enjoy digging graves for the state’s manufacturers one shovel full at a time.

With the highest local tax assessments factories are easy targets for governments and all of them are guilty of trying to bleed them to death. When some in Harrisburg set out to create a new bureaucracy to regulate telephones in the state they claim it will only cost an additional $3 per phone line a year. A factory that employs 1,000 people could have several hundred phone and fax lines and every year they will be forced to dig another couple of thousand dollars out of their earnings. We have a governor who is determined to mandate full day kindergarten and wants to raise personal income taxes to pay for the teachers. However nobody in the administration talks about the cost of all the new classrooms we’ll need to build when the kids go from half to full day schedules. When the local Boards of Education hike taxes to pay for them, they’ll say its only a few dollars per household but the factory owners are going to measure their school tax increases in triple digits. Townships and boroughs that hire private contractors to do ‘drive-by’ audits of manufacturers and whack them with business privilege taxes on a whim give Guangsheng and his communists another capitalist weapon to use to steal our jobs.

If nothing is done to stem this tide soon by 2020 manufacturing will be dead and buried in Pennsylvania and the only 2 entities in the world doing $2 trillion in business will be the US Government and Chinese factories. By that time 130,000,000 Chinese citizens will have become eligible for military service and their government will have the profits from $2 trillion in sales. Someday, if we don’t stop killing our production capacity, what the Chinese can’t buy they’ll be able to take and the graves we dig then could be our own.

Albert Paschall
Senior Commentator
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.
[email protected]