Congress’s Betrayal of the American Worker By Richard Backus

Dandelion Salad

By Richard Backus
02/16/08 “ICH

While claiming to be attempting to increase the number of well-paying jobs in the U.S. (having created laws in the past explicitly designed to do this), the Congress has really been following a completely different course. Almost all recently passed laws have done just the opposite.

The following Acts of congress were ostensible made in order to keep American workers fully employed and to create a healthy economy:

The Full Employment Bill of 1946 was designed for the federal government to promote “maximum employment, production, and purchasing power”. Amendments removed a guarantee by the government to explicitly provide “full” employment, but certainly the intent of the bill was to provide this as indicated by it’s title.

The Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 was designed to attain full employment, growth in production, price stability, and balance of trade and budget. Goals were established including a maximum of 3% to 4% unemployment rate, an attempt to balance the federal budget, and the avoidance of trade deficits. If private business interests did not attain these goals the government was entitled to create a “reservoir of public employment.” The Act explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of age as well… .

There was no effort to carry out the intent of these Acts. They were passed to create an appearance that these goals were being pursued while congress passed laws which did just the opposite. “Gloabalization” was intended to allow American businessmen to replace American workers with low-priced foreign ones. Since American corporations own much of the foreign manufacturing businesses, a foreign worker is simply an employee of an American firm hired overseas to replace an American worker stateside. The congress threw in an added tax sweetener to further facilitate this giveaway.

NAFTA and CAFTA had the same intent. So much for “promoting” full employment for U.S. citizens. Immigration policy, legal and illegal as well, was designed to do the same. No real serious efforts were made to stop the border crossings. The proof of this is in the number of illegal immigrants who succeeded. Legal immigration in the high-tech sector was a fraud from the get-go. Businessmen simply wanted younger, less expensive, and more pliable employees. Those older native ones wanted to be fairly treated and paid appropriately for a highly-trained engineer. Again, it was the government that “legally” made this jobs giveaway possible. The age-discrimination laws were ignored and tons of young (inexperienced) but low-salaried foreigners came surging in.

The immigration laws themselves were violated from the very beginning, proof being that high-tech salary levels immediately took a big dip violating the law’s requirement that immigrants were to be paid equal wages. When it was obvious that wages were falling, the congress did nothing.

The following is a excerpt of the law regarding age discrimination:

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
SEC. 2.
(a) The Congress hereby finds and declares that:
(1) in the face of rising productivity and affluence, older workers find themselves disadvantaged in their efforts to retain employment, and especially to regain employment ….
(b) It is therefore the purpose of this Act to “promote” employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment…
Section 4
(a) It shall be unlawful for an employer- (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age; (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s age.

Again the government claimed to be interested in “promoting” employment for this group when it was blatantly passing laws giving away the jobs of these older persons (younger ones as well). No effort was made to modify or reform these immigration laws even after it was obvious that American businessmen were violating them on a massive scale.

But the primary reason behind these giveaways was really not disclosed. The dollar’s exchange rate has been manipulated over the last 30 years in order to suit the wishes of the rich causing American worker’s wages to become progressively less and less competitive. This ultimately resulted in American manufacturing wage levels , on average, of ten times those of foreign workers in those less-developed countries which had been perfecting their manufacturing capabilities. Only if an American wage earner agreed to work for $2-$3/hr. would he have been competitive.

In contrast to this policy of overpricing American workers, Japan has built the world’s third largest economy by consistently doing just the opposite. Every time the yen’s exchange rate appreciated, causing a potential loss in production (and employment), the Japanese reserve bank acted to lower its exchange rate (simultaneously increasing the dollar’s exchange rate). Thailand has recently attempted to do the same when the appreciation of it’s currency caused a possible overpricing of the Thai worker’s wage levels. Investors reacted negatively but Thai worker’s jobs may ultimately prove to have been saved. The U.S. government, by doing just the opposite, has not only caused U.S. jobs to surge to overseas locations, but has resulted in the massive trade deficits which may ultimately threaten a catastrophic fall in the value of the dollar.

This exchange rate manipulation resulted in the failure of one of the major goals of the aforementioned Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 , a balanced trade. The other goals of that Act, concerning the unemployment level and “balanced budget”, have failed as well. Needless to say, an effort to establish a “reservoir of public employment” went nowhere.

The public’s inability or unwillingness to face up these betrayals will result in the destruction of the working class in the U.S. If the public does not protest, they will continue to get a government that no one deserves.

Richard Backus, author of this article, is a free-lance journalist specializing in political economy and politics. He resides in Miami Beach, Florida and his personal website is
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