Just watched an interesting if somewhat unsettling interview Tavis Smiley did with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The former PM, who is on a tour promoting his book “Beyond The Crash,” argues that the United States has a rosy economic future. He sees us as innovators and exporters. Apparently, to do that though, we’ll have to get our act together, which, according to Brown, involves some undefinable and mysterious nationalistic innovation, science and enterprise spirit-quest, providing us with a much needed boost coming from God knows where and who knows what.
I guess Brown means the innovative spirit exhibited by U.S. companies like DuPont, which, according to the AP, currently sells less than a third of its products here in the United States, while its sales to the Asia-Pacific area are up 50 percent. Accordingly the companies stock price is up 47 percent while the number of people it employs in the U.S. is down by 9 percent.
If orders are up DuPont must be hiring somewhere? Of course they are. Overseas, where its workforce shot up by 54 percent.
Nevertheless, filled with what appears to be an unlimited and perhaps illogical amount of boosterism, Mr.Brown talks about our indomitable national spirit. He says we can boom again in coming years by selling our products to developing nations like China and India. Products? Really? You mean the stuff we used to make before millions of jobs were sent overseas, shooting the hell out of our manufacturing base and badly crippling the middle and upper middle class? Those products?
I don’t know what Mr. Brown was keeping an eye on for the past several decades, but a number of us here in the U.S. were watching the economic indicators and business trends and noting with more than a little concern that we can’t all flip burgers for a living.
I don’t mean to be a nervous Nelly about the future, but somebody, please give Mr. Brown a copy of the story the AP is running entitled “Where are the jobs? For many companies, overseas.”
AP reporter Pallavi Gogoi, points out that millions of U.S. jobs have been sent offshore. I don’t know why or how Mr. Brown thinks we’ll be getting those jobs back. The story further points out that corporate profits and stock prices are up while companies are experiencing most of their growth not here in the U.S., but overseas. This keeps the stock market happy while unemployment in the U.S. remains unacceptably high.
As the senior international economist for the Economic Policy Institute Robert Scott puts it, “There’s a huge difference between what is good for American companies versus what is good for the American economy.”
It’s no wonder Tavis Smiley had a quizzical look on his face during much of his interview with Mr. Brown.
Will somebody please get a copy of Gogoi’s story to the former PM? He may need to do a quick rewrite on his book. Or at the very least, adjust his talking points.