…Conservatives are in an uproar that the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board has filed an unfair labor charge against Boeing. It seems the president of Boeing was unwise enough to blurt out that his company would move a production line to South Carolina as payback for past strikes by machinists in Seattle. It’s a dead bang violation of the National Labor Relations Act, even if it comes as a surprise to Republicans and many other Americans.
Yet the Boeing case has a scarier aspect missed by conservatives: Why is Boeing, one of our few real global champions in beefing up exports, moving work on the Dreamliner from a high-skill work force ($28 an hour on average) to a much lower-wage work force ($14 an hour starting wage)? Nothing could be a bigger threat to the economic security of this country.
We should be aghast that Boeing is sending a big fat market signal that it wants a less-skilled, lower-quality work force. This country is in a debt crisis because we buy abroad much more than we sell. Alas, because of this trade deficit, foreign creditors have the country in their clutches. That’s not because of our labor costs—in that respect, we can undersell most of our high-wage, unionized rivals like Germany. It’s because we have too many poorly educated and low-skilled workers that are simply unable to compete.
We depend on Boeing to out-compete Airbus, its European rival. But when major firms move South, it is usually a harbinger of quality decline.
– Thomas Geoghegan, WSJ, June 20, 2011
Dear Steve Sailer,
I know you pay attention to Mr. Geoghegan, since he bothers to write about your beloved white working class and dares to question the conventional wisdom about our industrial/trade policies. Unfortunately, when you read an article like this, you realize why he is properly characterized as just another misguided liberal who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The argument, we are in a “debt crisis because we buy abroad much more than we sell” might be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read from a liberal (and I’ve read a lot of stupid stuff). Let me explain elementary math and the federal government budget process to Geoghegan — we (meaning the federal government, but many state and local governments as well) are in a debt crisis because we spend more than we take in. Full stop, end of story. Either we stop spending like drunken sailors or we raise more revenue and turn into a dysfunctional Western Europe (dysfunctional because we just ain’t Sweden). Our trade deficit has almost nothing to do with this problem.
Also, Geoghegen has no idea whether or not the Washington State workforce is more skilled than the South Carolina workforce — the union in Washinton State artificially props up the wage in that state so we don’t know the true market wage. For all we know the workers in South Carolina are just as skilled as those in Washington and I find it telling he won’t compare the average wage in South Carolina with the average wage in Washington — he wanted to scare his readers with the differential instead.
The next time he is on stage here in Chicago (he performed in a play recently that he wrote) I’m going to go and heckle him — he deserves it for writing with such flawed logic and obvious strawmen. Stop taking him seriously!