Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America

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9780312374358: Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America

Senator Dorgan is sounding the alarm: With our country up to our neck in trade debt―$2 billion a day―as we import energy and export jobs, it is long past the time to tackle the trade crisis head-on.

By outsourcing hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs, American companies are essentially hollowing out our economic base, and with the current White House beholden to Big Oil and cronies straight out of the Gilded Age, no one is guarding the rights of the American worker. Take This Job and Ship It is not just a dire warning―it also offers many sobering cures before our current policies put American national security even further at risk.

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About the Author:

Senator Byron L. Dorgan served as a congressman and senator for North Dakota for thirty years before retiring in January 2011. He was chairman of Senate Committees and Subcommittees on the issues of Energy, Aviation, Appropriations, Water Policy, and Indian Affairs. Senator Dorgan is the author of the New York Times bestseller Take This Job and Ship It and, with co-author David Hagberg, the novels Blowout and Gridlock.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One 
A Star-spangled Rut
 
A poignant story is told about the sorrowful days following President Roosevelt's death in 1945.
 
In a long line of mourners waiting to pay their respects to the dead president lying in state at the U.S. Capitol was a fellow who had waited for hours.
 
A reporter, who was writing a story about the outpouring of love for FDR, saw this workingman standing quietly, holding his hat in his hands, with tears in his eyes.
 
The reporter, notebook in hand, asked, "Did you know President Roosevelt?'
 
"No," the man said through his tears. "But he knew me."
 
What a simple yet profound way of expressing that this was a president who truly cared about ordinary folks, about the working people of America.
 
 
So, who knows America's workers today?
 
Who is looking out for them now?
 
When their jobs are shipped overseas, who stands up for the American worker?
 
Who takes notice for example when the nine hundred Ohio workers lost their jobs because Huffy Bicycle Company decided to move those jobs to China, where they could pay Chinese workers thirty-three cents an hour to make bicycles?
 
Did anybody know that on the last day of work, as they drove out of the plant parking lot, in a quiet but powerful message, each of the Huffy employees left a pair of shoes in their empty parking space. It was their way of telling the company, "You can move our jobs to China, but you're not going to be able to fill our shoes."
 
So who knows those workers and millions like them? Our president? The Congress? Corporate executives? I don't think so.
 
If this is a nation experiencing a crisis of confidence--and I believe it is--it is because these days many American workers feel ignored, abandoned, and vulnerable.
 
They feel so very alone because they know they are governed by the callously indifferent who not only don't "know them," but who really don't think workers matter much.
 
These days we are told to suck it up and stop complaining. Things are going fine here in the United States. The president says so. So do a lot of economists, columnists, and business leaders. The world is flat, we're told. It's a good thing. Who could argue otherwise?
 
"We're number one!" . . .
 
"Our biggest export is wastepaper!"
 
That's right. America's largest export (by volume) is now "wastepaper" mostly headed for China. And another big export of ours is good American jobs, also headed mostly to Asia.
 
If you're thinking that sending wastepaper and American jobs--millions of them--overseas isn't exactly a sign of robust economic health, you're right!
 
Moreover, we are ringing up a trade deficit of over $700 billion a year (highest in history). That means every single day we buy about $2 billion of foreign products more than we are able to sell to other countries. To pay for that, each day we sell some of our country to foreigners. It is a strategy I call "The Selling of America."
 
And in this new global economy, no one is more profoundly affected than American workers.
 
In 1970, the largest U.S. corporation was General Motors. Most people who went to work there stayed for all their working lives. They collectively bargained, were paid well, and received good retirement and health-care benefits.
 
Today, the largest U.S. corporation is Wal-Mart. According to published reports, the average salary is $18,000 a year. First-year employee turnover is reportedly near 70 percent. And a large number of their employees have neither health-care nor retirement benefits. Some progress!
 
Add to all of that, in the past five years we've lost over 3 million U.S. jobs that have been outsourced to other countries and millions more are poised to leave. The bulk of these are jobs producing goods abroad under conditions that would never be allowed in this country. These products are then shipped to be sold in the United States from countries that still have not opened their markets to us.
 
So the plain truth is, things aren't really going so well. More people are seeing their jobs sent overseas. We are sapping our manufacturing strength. Many of our corporations are stripping their workers' pensions and reducing salaries. Workers and families are losing confidence in the future--a future we are financing by selling part of our country every day.
 
Despite those who tell us everything is just great, many of us can sense we're headed in the wrong direction. And we need to take action before our economy implodes.
 
That's the purpose of this book. I want to both sound the alarm and offer some hope. We've faced big challenges in the past and overcome them once we understood them. And we will again!
 
It's not going to be easy. Those who have spent billions to pave the road that allows them to produce in low-wage countries and sell in our established markets without all the restrictions they face in our country will attack views like mine as uninformed. They love this nonsense about "the world is flat." Well, the world isn't flat. Not when our trade agreements aren't fair. We are up to our neck in debt. And we are on a course that is unsustainable. The question isn't whether it changes, but rather, when.
 
Some say that global trade is now an unstoppable force of nature, and those of us who rant about the unfairness and the mountain of trade debt are Luddites. But that ignores the reality of our current trade mess. I do support trade, and plenty of it, provided it is fair, free, and mutually beneficial to us and our trade partners. However, that's not the case today. And we do desperately need change.
 
Change doesn't mean closing our borders and retreating from the global economy. But it does mean standing up for our country's interests and establishing a set of rules for trade in the global economy that reflect our country's interests. It means establishing a trade strategy that is designed to lift others up without pushing American workers down. We can do that. But we need to start now.
 
And oh yes, one more thing. As I write this, Wham-o has just announced that it has been bought by the Chinese. You remember Wham-o. It gave us Hula Hoops, Frisbees, Silly String, Slip 'N Slide. I understand the Chinese wanting our textile jobs, technology jobs, and manufacturing jobs. But our Frisbees and Hula Hoops? We put Hula Hoops in the Smithsonian Institution, for God's sake. Is nothing sacred? Okay, I'll stop. Trade is truly a serious issue and deserves our serious attention.
 
So, this book is about what's wrong and how to fix it. It is about summoning that can-do American spirit to force change and reform and grow our economy in the right way.
 
FDR--Offering Hope to a Nation
 
During the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II, FDR's infectious confidence taught an entire country how to believe again, to endure, and to triumph.
 
He gave Americans a sense of self-worth and a sense of purpose. He made us believe in ourselves and in our country, to realize our American Dream.
 
It was rooted in family, faith, and a good job. It was about the confidence in the future to build schools, roads, communities, and churches. This was a country at work, a country of builders.
 
Our history is both an anchor and a teacher. The place where I grew up still reminds me of the commonsense lessons I learned there. About work and about community. My hometown in southwestern North Dakota is a small farming community--only about three hundred people--but like most small towns, what it lacks in population it makes up for in heart.
 
I learned a lot in Regent--as much from the hardworking farmers who congregated there as I did in school. I tell people I graduated in the top ten of my senior high school class. There were nine of us. You see, in a small town you're never very far from the top or the bottom.
 
In my hometown, pride was not the sin of vanity but rather was born of the satisfaction that comes with a job well done. It was a community that rose from the prairies and was still barely two generations old when I was a kid. From crude shacks and some sod houses in those early years there evolved a thriving, bustling Main Street--hard work and values had built something special.
 
On the Saturday nights of my youth, I remember a small-town Main Street that was full of cars and trucks when farmers came to town at the end of a long week. The barber cut hair until midnight on Saturday nights. The two bars and the single café were epicenters of conversation and news as friends gathered in town after a hard week's work to talk about the weather, the crops, and the kids.
 
In those days, no politician would have presumed to lecture about values to the folks in my hometown. They lived their values every day. They honored family, faith, and hard work. When there was a job to do, they did it. When the town needed volunteers, they pitched in. They looked out for one another.
 
These are the lessons of my past. And the lessons from my small hometown, repeated all across America in the twentieth century, were the building blocks that created the greatest nation on earth. These lessons of greatness were gained through struggle.
 
During the post-Second World War period, we saw an America propelled ahead by the GI Bill, by a growing manufacturing industry that produced good jobs that were protected by the strength of unions organizing for good pay, benefits, and worker protections. All of this produced strong families and built the world's economic superpower.
 
Work was valued.
 
There was no social program as important as a good job that paid well.
 
All of this paved the way for the development of a broad middle class. Wage earners became the consumers ...

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