CONTENTS FEATURES 2 Labor’s Quest for Easy Answers Dave Denison 4 Senator Barrientos and the Governor Geoffrey Rips 6 Who Reads the Observer? Dana Loy 8 The Rebellion of the Less Powerful Democracies Ronnie Dugger 9 Nuclear Train Protester Derailed in Court Terry FitzPatrick 11 When the City Meets the Country Dawn Albright 16 Central America’s Children of War Louis Dubose DEPARTMENTS 5 Dialogue 19 Political Intelligence 22 Social Cause Calendar Books and the Culture: 21 Places in the Mind Marshall Surratt Afterword: 22 Journal Elroy Bode to 8.1 percent approaching the record levels set in the 1983 recession. The AFL-CIO says Texas has lost 50,000 jobs in the last five years to foreign workers. A study by two SMU researchers puts the figure at 120,000 lost jobs. The balance of trade is more out of balance than it has ever been this year we are expected to have taken in $150 billion more in imports than we have produced for export. That means layoffs in American assembly plants and oil refineries and textile mills that are struggling to compete. But it is the policies of the Reagan administration that are fueling the trade deficit. In 1979, the nation had a $12 million trade surplus, but when Reagan took office his money managers immediately set out to whip inflation and they did it at the cost of a few million more Americans out of work. Now, inflation has been kept down by the tight money supply at the Federal Reserve, interest rates have remained relatively high, and some economists say the high interest rates have kept the value of the dollar excessively strong on the European markets. As long as the dollar stays high, as has been the preference of the Reagan administration, it is to the advantage of foreign producers, and our own goods are too expensive to compete in the export markets. The Reagan administration’s huge budget deficits are also part of the problem, in the opinion of some economists, because that also tends to keep interest rates high and the dollar strong. It would follow from these suppositions, of course, that one of the principle factors in damaging the domestic employment picture is the gigantic military outlay that runs up the budget deficit in the first place. Another factor in the loss of jobs here is the unfailing instinct of the multinational corporation to go where the labor is cheap. In Texas, Haggar Apparel Co. recently announced the closing production to be made up by Haggar’s workers in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, where the average wage is fifty cents an hour. All over the country firms that can escape to Taiwan or South Korea or Mexico are making the jump and leaving American workers hanging. The corporations, of course, make no practice of “buying American.” Half of the parts for the IBM personal computer are made overseas, even though the product carries the American label. U.S. steelmakers buy German and Japanese equipment. And parts for cars are now assembled at any number of overseas assembly lines. As a Wall Street Journal story pointed out recently, “By 1987, U.S. consumers wanting to ‘buy American’ will have to decide which car is more American, a Ford built in a Ford plant in Mexico, or a Ford built in a Mazda,plant in Michigan.” THE CHANGES in the world economy that have come about as developing countries have emerged to compete with Europe and the U.S. have put the American labor movement on the ropes. Over the last two decades, American corporations have been busily devising ways to wriggle out of the partnership with organized labor. Companies have automated, diversified, and conglomeratized, so that there are no longer as many large cohesive communities of workers sharing the same experiences and the same propensity to unionize. Companies have found more and more “union-free environments. ” The Reagan administration has given less support to organized labor through OSHA and the National Labor Relations Board than any previous administration. And, as a result of many factors, only 15 to 18 percent of the American workforce is unionized. But, at the same time, it is difficult to imagine any force in this country, if not the unions, that is a potential match for the well-organized and well-funded conservative organizations that promote the agenda of the nation’s business elite. Historically it has only been the sheer muscle of organized workers that has brought as many progressive reforms as we have now. It would be good to see the unions rediscover that progressive voice. How refreshing it would be to see the AFL-CIO take a strong public stand against the repression of free trade unions in South Korea or Taiwan or the Philippines! Or to ask impertinent questions about how our government’s support for those “stable” but repressive governments hurts our own workers. What a welcome change it would be to see the union movement challenge the notion that runaway military spending is good for either the unemployment problems or the national security! And if the government is deadset on spending so much money, why don’t the unions demand that it be spent on commuter trains, or educational materials, or any number of products that provide more jobs and social utility than missiles, missiles, missiles, sitting unused all across the land. Why doesn’t the union movement develop plans to promote real worker solidarity instead of making crude appeals to patriotism? In making the crucial effort to expand their THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3-4*Nogoi
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