Exporting Jobs

March 30, 2004

I don't like hearing that we're exporting our jobs. It is being shouted from the rooftops. We are hearing it so much that people are staring to believe it. The best jobs are going to other countries. China does the manufacturing, India the computer work. We have to do something.

Well, I don't believe it. But I do know that this kind of mind set isdangerous. It is especially threatening to an industry that depends so much on exports agriculture.

If we take trade action against other countries, we will feel the pinch. Remember President Bush's tariff on steel? Russia quite buying our chickens. Poultry meat backed up here on our shores -- and not only did poultry prices collapse, so did the hog market. Trade disputes can be very costly.

Back to what I said earlier, we have always lost jobs. How many buggy whip factories are there? I sure miss those old crank telephones. How many farmers do we have today? Commercial demand and productivity change everything.

Here are some facts from the Cato Institute: Employment decline in manufacturing is not due to imports. In the last three years manufacturing jobs fell by 2.8 million. They didn't go overseas. Imports rose only .6%. In the last 20 years manufacturing output per hour has shot up 103%. We don't need as many people to manufacture a tractor. We don't need as many farmers to raise the food. With new technology we are far more efficient.

We are not even outsourcing our information technology in a big way. In 2002 the U.S. ran a 4.2 billion dollar trade surplus in IT -- double the number in 1995.

Let's get over the de-industrialization kick we always go through this paranoia when we're coming out of a recession. Over reacting could damage our farm economy big time.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.