Friday, November 11, 2005


I have reported the information to follow several times but it is just too good not to repeat. It was reported again this morning on the Hayes Advisory site (subscription required) which is an excellent service.

The original report was made by the conference board in 2004 and it covered from 1995 to 2002. The reason Hays Advisory brought it up again is because of the noise generated by the news of record trade deficits. Those who harp on the trade deficit are generally barking up the wrong tree. Free international trade is a good thing. The chorus of whining is generally about the loss of "good US manufacturing jobs".

From 1995 to 2002, the US lost 202,000 textile jobs. The common perception is that China took those jobs from the US. The reality is that China lost 1.8 million textile jobs during these same years. The total loss of manufacturing jobs in the US during these years was about 2 million; China lost 15 million.

Folks, we are getting better and better at making all the goods the world can use while using fewer people in manufacturing. This is not a bad thing. Would you like to go back to the days when 90% of the people had to work very hard very long days to grow enough food to eat?

The number of farmers had dropped to what I thought was an incredibly low number of 4% when I entered the work force. Today, we are down to 2%. In America, two percent of our population grows enough food for all of our people and we export tons of corn, wheat and other agricultural products.

In the last ten years, American and Chinese standards of living have improved significantly. The unemployment rate today is not much different than it was 10 years ago and the average person in both countries lives much better today.

Since the current news is about restricting Chinese imports of textiles, please note that the average American will buy 75% more clothes this year than he or she bought 10 years ago. The price continues to go down relative to the average income and we can afford more.

Many boomers will decide to work extra years beyond their need for income. The reason is that many have found relatively enjoyable jobs. Many a man or women had rather spend 40 hours a week at work than an extra 40 hours at home. The "gales of creative destruction" are positive forces. Yes, tough old manufacturing jobs are lost but everyone can afford more services.

I met a church friend yesterday coming out of a neighbors beautiful home. She had cleaning supplies with her. I was surprised to learn that she cleans homes full time. This lady is a class act. She is a well dressed, pleasant person who lives well. I don't know where she gets her hair done but it is obvious that a professional does the job. Do you suppose her hair dresser pays to have her house cleaned? My friend says she loves her job partly because she has free time every day.

America has created millions and millions of jobs in the past couple of decades and the net worth of families is at an all time high. Family income is very strong. Now, I know, almost everyone thinks they have a tough life, but I have been surprised to take food to the "poor" who have big screen TV's, video collections, electronic game collections, supper nice clothes and late model cars (some of them lived in pretty sad houses or trailers). I do not regret that our mission teams sometimes have a hard time finding really hungry people to help. Americans have generally received great blessings. We really should not whine because the Chinese are willing to make a shirt for half the cost. We really should delight in paying a relatively poor person to do a job. I think it was Mr. Rockefeller who said the most charitable gift a person can give to another person is a good job.

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