Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How Secure Is Your Job?

Another furniture manufacturer in Galax is laying off 300 people. There has been the same sort of news each month for the six or so months we've lived in this area which at one time was the major manufacturer since who knows when. High Point NC is right down the road and names like Basset, Lane, and Vaughn are seen on buildings for lease throughout the area. It's a real blow for the people who have worked at the trade for many years and don't know any other occupation. The major reason is that the jobs are going to other countries most notably China. The annual High Point furniture market is in jeopardy now that Las Vegas has jumped into that arena. This coupled with the already depressed economy of Appalachia makes for a very unpleasant future for many good folks who would very much like to work.

I see what's happening with the auto workers and the airlines and wonder if this trend can be checked. As we approach a more global economy only more of the same , I'm afraid, can only be expected. When I call most any customer service number I am connected to someone in India trying to explain a complicated issue in poor English. Speaking of India I see where they and China have formed a partnership to gain more control of the worlds oil production.

Not only jobs but more and more of American dollars are going to other countries. And yes, it means lower cost of consumer goods here, but at what price in the long run? Are cheap goods now worth the erosion of our economy that has begun and can only accelerate?

That is coupled with the total disregard for the American worker what with CEO's making astronomical salaries while the worker is forced to face increasingly higher costs of living with not much relief in sight and more and more jobs vanishing. Now some may think they are secure in their jobs and it can't happen to me. That's exactly what workers in the furniture industry thought. But it has happened to them and where will it stop?

It is not without good reason that greed is one of the deadly sins. When accumulation of wealth becomes more important then the quality of life everyone suffers in the end. Ours is a great county with great opportunity but what if opportunity is lost? I am appalled at the argument that illegal aliens are here because they are willing to take the service jobs Americans don't want. After spending my life in one service industry or another I found as much opportunity there as anywhere. The Marriotts and Hiltons didn't do so bad (well maybe except for Paris).

There is much to the Republican agenda that is admirable but it must be remembered that their economic focus is to further enrich the wealthy. The Democrats on the other hand want to give it to the poor. What about most of us in the middle? With the wealthy getting tax breaks and the poor unable to pay guess who gets the bill.

Some how we must regain respect and support for the American worker or the day may come when China will outsourcing jobs here because they can pay us less then the Chinese worker.


Blogger GUYK said...

We all want to make that 75,000 a year but still want to buy Chinese imports at Walmart. The economy doesn't work that way. American automobiles manufacturers are suffering because it costs an average of 67 bucks a man hour on the assembly line.

I do feel for the small manufacturer who cannot compete with imports. But I reckon there were some who felt for the buggy whip manufacturers when automobiles replaced the buggy.

Our eceonmy is turning from manufacturing to high tech and services and those who refuse to go along with it are going to be left behind. No, I don't particularly like it either but that is the way it is and it is learn to live with it or be left behind.

11:43 AM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

Well at least high tech and services won't be cutting my oak and maple trees. Adapt or perish was certainly one thing Darwin was correct about. How is that 67 greenies affected by the automation which has taken over the auto industry and how was that figure derived? Taking into consideration all compensation including execs. or only the workers?

12:02 PM  
Anonymous SK said...

I hate the idea of the furniture factories relocating to China. It takes up to 6 months to get something once ordered and if it's defective, try to get a replacement. On the other hand, I was elated to find a bedroom set in a local store which is all made in the USA. And it is booootiful! It's also nearly $10,000.00 No, that is NOT a typo.

12:30 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

I know, sk, I have a set of chairs from China I bought at least ten years ago and in the past ten years I've probably spent what the things cost on Gorila Glue holding them togather.
I guilty, too.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

These words of yours are so true:

"It is not without good reason that greed is one of the deadly sins. When accumulation of wealth becomes more important then the quality of life everyone suffers in the end."

We forfeit so much, spiritually, when we do not temper greed - and consumerism. I really believe in limiting one's expenditures, keeping it simple. Everyone wants 'in' on Americans consumerism.

2:52 PM  
Blogger GUYK said...

The 67 per man hour is for UAW workers-not white collar. Actual wage is around 27 per hour but retirement costs and all the medical bennies are killing the big auto producers. GM for example claims to havefour billion in cash assets but they have been operating in the red for sever quarters. Even if they bring business back up to break even the billions in cash will only last about four years paying medical benifits and retirements. Seems that there are as many retired GM workers as there are on the assembly lines. Ford has the same problems and both have seen their bonds downgraded to junk status.

I am not happy with the exorbent pay that senior executives are getting. However, I also know the kind of hours they put in and the kind of responsibility they have. I was the CEO and president of my own small corporation and my day was not measured in hours-well, yeah I gues it was. Usually at least 14 of them seven days a wekk and another hour or two when I got home keeping abreast of the changes in the industry.

Yeah, I made a hell of a lot more than the people working for me when all was said and done at the end of the year. But it was capital at risk, my 100 hour weeks, and my skill and business knowhow that I was getting paid for. I reckon that is how a lot of the senior executives in the big corporations feel also.

And, keep in mind that labor at all levels is a commodity and brings-as it should-whatever the market will bear. My only complaint with this is that the laws are stacked in favor of the unions instead of business. If labor costs rose and fell with the supply and demand for labor it would be one thing. But it does not and when business finally does make a profit labor just demands a bigger share of it.

If I was the CEO of GM or Ford there would be no contract. I would do the same as the Hockey owners-make an offer and they would take it or leave it and I would hire someone who wanted to work. But then again the labor laws are stacked against the companies. They are going under, slowly but surely and the day will come when they will have to close the doors and then a lot of people will be out of work.

5:16 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

Thanks for your excellent comments, Guy. This is obvously something on which you a very well informed and with which you have had some personal experience. It's getting late and I'll be in better condition to absorb it all in the AM.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well..I tell ya' something and I have gotten alot of strange looks over here.

99% of the military population that comes to Germany goes nuts for the furniture. The german shrunks, kitchen sets, etc.

I've never bought any and don't plan on it. Some people have asked me why I don't buy furniture over here and I tell them because the best wood furniture in the world in my opinion comes right from the South in the states. We've ordered some beautiful things from North Carolina.

When we were in the states I tried my best not to shop at Wal Mart, Target and I don't mind paying extra to go to a local owned store.

But guy is so right...we want to make big bucks but not spend it to help our fellow independent store owners.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous The Other Mike S said...

Nice site.

Your comment about "adapt or perish" is spot-on. I've been in the banking industry for nearly 30 years, but it's been with 7 different banks (mostly due to mergers and such). I've made sure I've learned the new skills needed to keep food on the table and the bills paid.

It is terrible that manufacturing jobs are leaving the US. But, cost is a major component of any product, and our costs are too high, when compared to the rest of the world. We can bitch and moan about "third world salaries", but that will get us nowhere.

If we, as a country want to compete, we need to pick industies/services where we have an advantage or can create an advantage, and run with those.

I've told my high school-aged boys to look at careers where you HAVE to be there physically. That means stay away from technology, most manufacturing, most telecom. Think about things like chiropractors, physical therapists, doctors, firefighters, police officers, plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, etc. Things that require your physical presence.

And never stop learning.

9:07 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home