My two fellow bloggers have written about jobs, and I can't disagree with their points. Job creation is important both to the electorate and those they elect.
Unfortunately, the past decade hasn't been a stellar one for job creation. If you take a look at the private jobs in the U.S. in September 2009, a little over 109.1 million, and compare that to the number in September 1999, about 109.7 million, you are left with an empty feeling. If you consider that the overall population grew 9 percent during that same time, you have an even emptier feeling.
You won't be surprised to learn that the number of government employees grew during this time from 20.2 million in September 1999 to 22.3 million in September 2009. Now that takes into account everybody from letter carriers to teachers. You can slice and dice the statistics here to find a number that you can then share with your other tea party-goers.
This bit of historical perspective about job loss is especially discouraging as the last decade was also the decade of free trade. The North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994, and George W. Bush was a proponent of free trade agreements with several other nations.
Today free trade advocates in the U.S. are pushing for the removal of more barriers and an end to the perceived hostilities aimed toward China's way. They contend that the fastest way out of this economic slump is to boost U.S. exports, and the only way to do that is to end protectionist proselytizing. They also think that it'll get the job creation machine revving again.
So you can see where people might have some hesitation believing that last claim. The free trade advocates can't, however.
I actually think the free trade advocates are correct for the most part. You can't turn back the hands of time, so I accept that this is a nation that has committed to free enterprise and works best when companies are able to compete without governmental interferences. However, I also realize that this is a very confusing time when it comes to international trade, particularly with China.
I'll let Hank Cox of the National Association of Manufacturers explain, as he did in "Too Dowdy to Behold" in the November/December 2009 issue of the Metal Service Center Institute's Forward magazine:
"We"ve had disagreements among our members about what the appropriate stance on China ought to be. It"s a given that China violates all the rules of international trade, they manipulate the value of their currency, they subsidize domestic industries, they violate copyrights.
"But we are international. We think international trade is good for everybody. And remember, 95% of the world"s consumers are not in the United States. If we want to grow consistently in the long term, we need open trade.
"The real reason we can"t come to grips with China is that we depend on them to subsidize our profligacy. The only way to cover those trillion-dollar deficits is investment from China. We made a devil"s bargain because of our unsustainable fiscal policies.
"So you can"t ignore China. You can"t shut it out. It has 1.3 billion people who are coming on strong. If you want to have a healthy and vibrant economy, you need a manufacturing base and access to that market."
That sums it up nicely. The U.S. is stuck between accessing an attractive market and all the illegal and immoral activities that have to be ignored to have access to that market. I can understand why a nation might want to take a step back and rethink its position in this awkward relationship. So what we have now is not so much a period of protectionism, but what I like to call a moment of rest and review.
Truthfully, the creation of thousands of jobs is likely to come with a boost in consumer and business management confidence, which will be difficult considering the tumult associated with health care reform and potential greenhouse gas regulation. I doubt the job numbers will spike with the likes of another U.S.-Oman free trade accord.