Friday, February 10, 2006

AFL-CIO: Look at the Figures

The trade deficit is a record $725.8 billion, but it is not disquieting for the reasons you'd think. Unemployment is at 4.7% and falling, so to blame importing for the lack of jobs in America is just plain silly.

AP journalist Martin Crutsinger quotes Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, as saying:

"Such a huge trade gap undercuts domestic manufacturing and destroys good U.S. jobs," said Richard Trumka, secretary-treasuer of labor's AFL-CIO. "America's gargantuan trade deficit is a weight around American workers' necks that is pulling them into a cycle of debt, bankruptcy and low-wage service jobs." (U.S. Trade Deficit Hits All-Time High,, 4/10/06.)

[Thanks to for the photo.]

I've rarely read a more striking non-sequitur. Since when does a trade deficit force someone to buy more than he can afford? And if those service jobs pay less than the old manufacturing jobs -- which may be true given the unbelievable wages some union workers were making -- then those workers should face up to the fact that they were living high off the hog.

For example, a checker at our local supermarket was making something like $18 an hour plus full health coverage and retirement benefits. That's incredible. And the Long Beach dock workers were on strike when their take-home pay was between $80,000 and $100,000 a year plus all the freebies. Are these people out of touch with reality or what? That's more than a good attorney makes after 7 years of college.

I see nothing wrong with manufacturing workers changing job descriptions, on the contrary. If the change in the economy got me out of a factory and into a service job, I'd be thankful.

It sounds like Mr. Trumka is more worried about losing his own job than he is those of his members.


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