Thursday, October 26, 2006
This Is How The Germans See Us
Self-important corporate kingmen who congratulate themselves for squeezing profit out of shriveled companies should pay attention to how their, ahem, "achievements" are perceived overseas. Here is a link to an article by a top editor at Der Speigel about America's self-engineered decline. The author is clearly not anti-American - indeed, his long preamble focuses on what America used to be, and he praises that to the skies. But he does acknowledge that America has slipped as an economic superpower. Rampant outsourcing of both industrial production and labor have reduced America to a nation that imports far more than it exports. Our trade deficits with China, Japan and Europe in 2005 were $200 billion, $80 billion and $120 billion, respectively. Moreover, "the United States can't even achieve a surplus in its trade with less developed national economies like those of Ukraine and Russia. Everyday, container-laden ships arrive in the United States - and after they unload their wares at American ports, many return home empty." Perceptions like this should act as a corrective to the complacent delusion of modern CEOs that their firms are increasingly "profitable" just because they are able to produce the same as before, only for less money spent on labor. It should also chasten them for using capital gains only to enrich themselves and their major shareholders - rather than plowing that precious profit back into expanded production where it belongs.
The narcissistic self-enrichment strategies of America's CEOs not only shrivel real growth in production. They also shrivel the middle class, as the source of those fraudulently heralded "profits" is not increased production at all - but decreased overhead in the form of fewer workers and stagnant wages. At 300 million, we have more people in our nation than ever, but an ever larger proportion of those people are faring less well in comparison with their stingy and short-sighted masters. As the German article points out, the American middle class is increasingly "delinked" (an interesting German-English neologism meaning, I believe, "disenfranchised") from the so-called economic growth of their own country. The reason why, as the foreign perspective of this article makes clear, is because our "economic growth" is essentially an illusion.
"A Superpower In Decline: America's Middle Class Has Become Globalization's Loser" from Der Speigel