In perhaps another indication the intelligence apparatus is still busticated in the US, Steven Aftergood of Secrecy blog informs that a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been ordered to address what the loss of the country's manufacturing base means. It's looking bad for us, says one congresswoman. "Ya think?" shouts someone from the peanut gallery.
The U.S. intelligence community will prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the implications of the continuing decline in U.S. manufacturing capacity, said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) citing recent news reports.
"Last month Forbes reported that the continued erosion of the U.S. manufacturing base has gotten so serious that the Director of National Intelligence has begun preparation of a National Intelligence Estimate... to assess the security implications of the decline of American manufacturing," said Rep. Schakowsky, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
"Our growing reliance on imports and lack of industrial infrastructure has become a national security concern ..."
On one hand, this is welcome news. Finally, a lightbulb has gone on over someone's head. The question is invited in: How do we retain world leadership if the manufacturing shops for stuff we actually invented during the great WWII/Cold War surge are all tossed?
To the Chinese and so on.
On the other hand, it has been an obvious problem, one waiting to be addressed for a really long time. It raises the suspicion arises that like so many other things, the concern is either purely cosmetic or evidence of the flailing of some insulated boob from the ruling class nagged by the idea that when the servants idly comment that everything bought in town for the mansion is foreign-made, the process of 'modernizing to the global economy' has gone a bit too far.
Readers know you could devote a book to the issues. And many probably are.
But it is not just that non-military domestic manufacturing has been thrown away. The thorny issue of what actually is protected manufacturing in this country must be addressed, too. And for the latter, the very obvious answer is arms manufacturing.
The argument, then, is not just a security and social issue. It is also a moral one which asks people to seriously consider two questions which are easy to pose:
Why has it been considered the proper way of things for corporate America to throw away domestic non-military manufacturing because the labor is ten times more expensive than sweat shop labor overseas?
And why, if such is the case, is corporate America allowed to preserve only arms-manufacturing jobs, the funding for which is totally shifted to the same middle class that has seen its jobs eliminated by the same businesses in non-military manufacturing?
Answering these with anything resembling continuing the status quo indicates an entrenched immorality, a corporate sociopathic quality concerned only with extending the bottom line at everyone else's expense.
It means you have a country where quite a lot of decent people who believe we once stood for something might not want to live.
The result of this has been a cruel and profoundly unfair trick on workers.
If they're in non-military production they've been deemed not cost effective, too expensive. So the nation has created a system were we have workers who have to engage in a musical chairs game while vying for the smaller number of jobs in arms manufacturing because the same corporations can rely on taxpayer defense funding to answer all costs. They are necessary labor only insofar as they serve corporate America on especially enriching projects.
And if they cannot get those jobs, or do not have an arms manufacturing facility within commuting distance to apply at, they are thrown into the wind.
General Electric, in the news repeatedly, is a great example of a company that behaves in a way at odds with American security. And it is also, among many things, an arms manufacturer.
It pays no tax and under CEO Jeff Immelt, shipped non-military manufacturing overseas and abandoned domestic jobs. But it rallies its lobbyists to continue fighting for Department of Defense money for a redundant engine, canceled, for the Joint Strike Fighter.
It has two tiers of workers and manufacturing. Protected military manufacturing jobs, to be preserved because they're necessary for rich contracts from the US government. And domestic non-military manufacturing jobs, which are be taken advantage of, pressed for wage and benefit concessions or eliminated altogether.
Neither of these conditions jive with the national interest. They're features of an agency that behaves in a sociopathic manner.
"[We] need to work to rebuild the American manufacturing sector, creating jobs at home. And instead of approving FTAs (free trade agreements) that will offshore more American jobs, we need to establish a trade policy that benefits American workers and the entire American economy," she said.
[A Congressional Research Service (pdf)] cited a study which concluded that overall changes in aggregate U.S. employment attributable to the [recent] US-Korea [trade] agreement "would be negligible given the much larger size of the U.S. economy compared to the South Korean economy. However, while some sectors, such as livestock producers, would experience increases in employment, others such as textile, wearing apparel, and electronic equipment manufacturers would be expected to experience declines in employment." Accordingly, the "U.S. beef sector" supports the agreement, while some labor unions oppose it.
The "growing reliance" on imports is indeed of concern, not just for the sake of national security. However, it is not just a "growing reliance."
The class that shops in malls, supermarkets and stores like Wal-Mart and Target for everyday material things necessary for American life know there is no such thing as a "growing reliance." It's a total reliance.
That this would be addressed as only a national security concern shows real myopia. That it would trigger a National Ingelligence Estimate may be an indication that it is now too little and too late.
Aftergood writes that the record for releasing NIE's into the public so that they might effect change is not good. Nuances are lost and the legislative process is not "effectively served."
It can only be hoped that this will not be the case.
The Secrecy blog article is here.
GE and Jeff (Taxavoidination)
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