Answer the following questions. If America is competitive, we get an ``O,'' if not, our trading competitor wins an ``X.'' The first player to get three in a row wins.
Q. Is America currently in a trade surplus with any trading countries?
A. No. Our competitor gets an X.
Q. Is America enacting a national policy to be more competitive when we trade commodities that involve highly skilled labor?
A. No. As America's highly skilled labor becomes less time-efficient, corporations must move to where they can efficiently procure tooling and then production.
Q. Do American schools demonstrate the role model of highly skilled labor as an important and integral part of our society? Do American children know what a toolmaker is? Are they familiar with the technology behind the many plastic parts of their world? Or do plastic parts come from Mars?
A. Many school counselors don't know where plastic parts come from. To some counselors, the toolmaking, machining or welding trades are dirty work, suited for less-bright students. Gone are the shop classes where students were acquainted with the science of making things. In Japan, Germany, and other nations, children are watched and tested for their natural tendencies. If they show a great deal of hand-to-mental coordination, those skills are nurtured. They also have toolmaking schools.
As you can see we have already lost, but let's continue; maybe our competitor has been sleeping.
Q. If young people were inspired to learn the toolmaking profession, where would they go?
A. In America, the cost to educate potential toolmakers is up to the toolmaking business. As we lose toolmakers we lose teachers. Can potential students get a grant or loan? No! Our competitor gets two Xs here. Look around you. Is there anything you touch that has not had some token of skilled labor involved? No! Everything at some point involves skilled labor, even the air you breathe. Without such an important key player, how can we possibly compete?
Q. Is America currently making adjustments in trading policy to help resolve this lack of competitive strength? What are our elected officials doing?
A. So far our ambassadors can only emphasize human rights or environmental concerns. But we as a nation ultimately enforce those concerns; is it not hypocritical to buy goods from nations that do not adopt policy? Megastore bargain shopping has gotten us here. Our competitor gets an X. Maybe we should start a new grid.
Q. The World Trade Organization has been receptive, opened its doors to debate from all parties. Do all Americans know the agenda of the WTO?
A. No. Can we compete on any issue?
Q. What can we do?
A. If we enact policies to get an O everywhere above, we will begin to crawl out of this hole. Alan Greenspan has said free trade is the best way to spread wealth to impoverished nations. But do impoverished people need jobs, or simply food, shelter and disease control? If our aim is to spread humanity, then why are we exporting assets that have made it possible to spread humanity?
>From the bench of an American plastic injection mold maker.
John C. McCoy