How Do We Keep Americans Working?

04/17/2012 7:45 am EST

Focus: MARKETS

Paul Goodwin

Emerging Markets Specialist and Analyst, Cabot Heritage Corporation

I recently asked my readers to give me their opinions about how we can keep jobs in America, and I got some varied and thought-provoking ideas, says Paul Goodwin of Cabot Wealth Advisory.

To everyone who responded to my question about how to keep jobs in the US, I give my profound thanks. Your response to this question (I received over 90 e-mails) was the largest I've ever had from a Cabot Wealth Advisory article.

The answers and suggestions you gave hit just about every color in the opinion spectrum, from militant anger to thoughtful analysis to complete bafflement...and I appreciated every single one of them.

The 17 responses we chose focused on one or more of these six themes: Tariffs/Protectionism, Education, Deregulation, Innovation, Curbing Greed, and Anti-Union Sentiment. Each also touched on a different mood. Below, you'll see the responses organized by the relevant theme.

Tariffs/Protectionism
Rob from Orlando, Florida wrote, in part: "I say ban the J-1 Visa, ban the H2B Visa, and any other Visa that allows foreign workers to take skilled and unskilled jobs from American workers, especially on our own shores!
"Give tax breaks and incentives to hire Americans for full-time work.
"Enough socialism for Corporate America and help the average American."

Charles B. wrote, in part: "Place high tariffs on all Chinese goods imported into this country, i.e., bring their prices up to our pricing levels—and help to pay off our ever-growing national debt. I really think that is our last feasible resort."

Patrick H. writes, in part: "Examine all products sold by a company. If, by value, the components are 100% American made, then there is no corporate tax. If the product is 100% foreign made, then the company pays full tax (or 125% of the normal tax due, or some other suitable number). The more of the product that is made in the US, the lower the tax rate for the company."

Gerald R. wrote, in part: "For me the solution is to tax the corporations for the jobs lost by having them pay into Social Security and Medicare for every job lost here.
"I am tired of hearing no corporate taxes produce jobs. Maybe, but not here in the USA. Ohio boarded the no taxes for corporations train in 2006 and promptly ran up a FIVE BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT."

David S. wrote, in part: "I would keep jobs in the US by making it mandatory that businesses located in the US only sell products made in the US .... Did you hear that Wal-Mart?"

Daniel S. wrote, in part: "Do not allow exports for natural gas (LNG) .... Just like crude exports are not allowed.
"The low domestic gas price will be a stimulus to the entire economy....nat gas in Asia is $15/mcf....so $2.50 here is an advantage.
"North America will retool to use the cheap resource, reduce oil imports etc."

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Education
Mark N. wrote, in part: "If my job were to be responsible for regulating US companies I would create financial incentives that would reward companies who invest in private education institutions. Public schools as we know them would become non-existent."

Elizabeth K. wrote, in part: "Throw all the public and private money you can into universities and community colleges. We simply don't have enough people to do the kind of jobs that are available. Not everyone needs to go to college; some people like to work with their hands and are good at it.
"Permit children at most one hour a day of TV and/or video games. Insist on at least 30 minutes per day for reading."

Deregulation
David M. wrote, perhaps tongue-in-cheek: "Counteract this by replacing USA labour legislation with the labour legislation of China."

Mark M. suggested: "I would:
-eliminate the minimum wage, and most other economic regulation, including on antitrust issues.
-take an axe to some environmental regulation
-take a scalpel to most other social regulation
-maintain most health and safety regulation."

Curb Greed
Steve W. focused on curbing greed in his suggestion. His letter read, in part: "Unfortunately, no one stole jobs from American industry. They were given freely by the American businessmen, politicians, and even the American people.
"I think we need to start to build a more simplistic world and get away from this overly complex system of geed, a need for riches, out for only me, don't hurt me or I will hurt you, ethics out the door, disappearing morals, etc ...."

Gail I. wrote: "Given that it would be politically very difficult to change or amend the greed-driving imperative of corporations to put benefit to stock-holders above all else, the only other option I can think of is to encourage consumer support for companies who are employee-owned (like our largest area groceries here in Iowa, Hy-Vee) or companies who give a significant amount of company shares to employees. It has so many positive effects in terms of company loyalty, workforce satisfaction, etc., and it makes the workers into shareholders, who would have a vote in moving jobs off-shore!"

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Innovation
Aaron C. suggested improvements in our manufacturing infrastructure. Here's an excerpt from his response: "Federal government should establish manufacturing cities (perhaps up to four) throughout various undeveloped regions of the country."

George E.'s ideas involved creatively changing the aging infrastructure. Here's part of what he wrote: "The cost of shipping large structures is high. Our infrastructure is old. Energy costs are rising. Action: Use economic stimulation to rebuild our aging infrastructure—corrosion-resistant piping, pothole-free roads, broken sidewalks, etc. Encourage the manufacture of large structures within the US, near its ultimate usage locations (examples: wind energy structures, bridges). Convert NASA's mission to developing technology for satisfying current and near-term anticipated needs (such as pothole-free roads, more efficient auto engines, more efficient solar cells, more energy-efficient housing and appliances, advanced medical devices and analysis equipment."

Multiple Themes
Don A.'s letter touched on all six of our themes. Here's an excerpt from his response: "1. Keep the amount of regulation to a minimum, restricted to areas such as regulations on workplace and product safety.
"2. Eliminate as many mandates as possible.
"3. Lower the corporate tax rate.
"4. Expand 'Right to Work' laws so that labor unions can't interfere with hiring and work rules.
"5. Forget about tax incentives or penalties, companies will hire new workers when they perceive that the value added by the worker exceeds the cost.
"6. If the government wants to spend money, do it by setting up public/private partnerships with trade associations and community colleges to train workers."

Susan B. wrote about curbing greed and the need for innovation. Here's her suggestion: "One idea would be to ask CEOs to take cuts in their salaries. Consider capping CEOs salaries at a certain percentage of the lowest paid worker in their company. Then take the savings and employ a few more people or use the extra money to bring the cost of goods down to be competitive with the Emerging World labor force.
"Another idea is to offer incentives to employees to get creative in either becoming more productive or in designing new goods that can be made in America."

No Solution
There are always people who believe things have gone too far to turn back now, and the responses I received are no different. Here are the two of the best:

James M. writes: "There is no way to bring and massively grow (in a permanent sense) the production dominance without an incredibly severe depression to wash out the systematic debt & wage scale that has been created. With information and transformation worldwide and advancing at an increasing rate, American middle class mass revival and production dominance needed for it are IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!"

Mike C. offered this gem to close out our response-picks: "I'm not sure anything can be done without upsetting the apple cart—the world has gotten too small."

  • MoneyShow.com readers: What do you think? If you're interested in keeping this conversation going, feel free to comment in the box below.

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