Cheap imports' cost goes beyond U.S. jobs
I am part-owner of a plastics manufacturing company whose primary customers are automotive, including Tier 1 suppliers.
We have been concerned about the seeming disinterest our government has been showing toward the influx of foreign products made with labor that accepts $1-$2 per hour in wages.
Your editorial [``Shielding U.S. firms: tax reform vs. tariffs,'' Dec. 23, Page 6] correctly points out that American buyers desire to pay the least they can for what they buy. But you did not explore and reveal the actual cost to the taxpayers when you include the costs of lost jobs, namely: unemployment checks, health-care subsidies for the uninsured, increases in crime, reductions in property values and reductions in the standard of living - not to mention the long-term strengthening of the foreign countries who take our jobs.
Does it really cost less when you consider that we will have to pay all these welfare-related costs from a smaller national work force? Can you look your neighbor in the eye after saving a dollar on a Nerf ball?
Will the foreign countries be as generous in allowing erosion of their tax base if they suffer the same inequality of foreign wages in the future? Are some or all of these also countries that ridicule our political beliefs and make fun of Americans, calling us arrogant and worse?
What is really needed is a strong statement that we will add the cost of our unemployment to the prices of incoming products so that Americans do not suffer at the hands of countries or companies paying ridiculous wages at the expense of our jobs. If these products can be sold here once those costs have been added, or if the exporting country, like China, wishes to pay a fee at the start of every year to cover our damages, then I would be more open to the concept of exposing our markets to predatory imports.
The American people, once educated as to the real costs of cheaper foreign products, and the disdain that those countries have for us as human beings, would gladly sacrifice in price what they will gain in national identity, unity and future economic viability.
Dow-Ford deal adds to resin competition
The recent announcement that Dow Automotive Division will supply Ford Motor Co. in South America with plastic automotive parts for the Siesta car model is a surprising development in the plastics industry. Whether this trend will continue with other resin suppliers remains to be seen.
Will other car manufacturers like General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG follow the same strategy?
Resin suppliers following this strategy with captive plastic fabrication programs is not new. This same practice existed in the 1960s and '70s with such companies as Amoco Chemical, Celanese, Sohio, Phillips Chemical Co., Exxon Chemical and Gulf Oil. Chemicals had captive plastics fabricating operations in North America relating to housewares, custom molded products, plastic pipe and film, containers, olefin fibers and lids and closures.
Entering these captive businesses requires careful planning with regard to capital investment, technology, skilled manpower, environmental programs and competitive considerations with other fabricators who are in the same business. It is certain that fabricators in North America will be monitoring future resin supplier/end-user relationships. This is another critical business trend that fabricators in North America will be facing in 2003 - potential competition with resin suppliers.