Obama Abandons American Workers


After promising, during the election campaign, to revise NAFTA and fix other broken trade deals that have robbed the U.S. of its manufacturing jobs, President Obama now seems to figure that, with the rescue of Chrysler and GM, he has done enough to repay Big Labor for their campaign support.  We now see that he’s cut from the same cloth as his Republican rivals in the election and has begun reading his lines from the G20 globalization play book, offering nothing more than job retraining for those unfilled millions of jobs in mythical “new industries.”

President Barack Obama took a dose of reality to Michigan on Tuesday, saying that thousands of jobs lost to the auto industry’s downturn are not coming back and it is time to prepare for new industries.Traveling to Michigan, a state hit hard by job losses as Detroit’s Big Three automakers have reeled from the U.S. recession, Obama planned to promote a $12 billion initiative to boost community colleges and increase the graduation rate.

“(The) hard truth is that some of the jobs that have been lost in the auto industry and elsewhere won’t be coming back,” Obama was to say, according to prepared remarks released by the White House.

“They are casualties of a changing economy. And that only underscores the importance of generating new businesses and industries to replace the ones we’ve lost, and of preparing our workers to fill the jobs they create,” Obama will say.

Like a boat captain, happening upon a shipwreck, he scooped up as many survivors as his boat could handle and dropped them at the nearest, deserted island.  But, instead of going back for the rest, he has tossed the shivering survivors a cell phone, told them to call for help, and then continued on his way, shamefully abandoning the rest. 

Obama has done absolutely nothing to revise NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) or any other trade deal and, even worse, has remained silent in the face of dumping by Japan and tariffs imposed by Mexico.  I suppose that the math dictates that it is better to be thought a good statesman by the majority of the 83% of Americans still employed than to risk the ire of our trading partners just to make the 17% unemployed happy. 

Retraining.  Retraining to do what?  What new industries is he talking about?  Would these be the same new industries that were supposed to be our salvation the last time – like the “high tech” computer and cell phone industries, whose jobs have followed more low tech occupations overseas, or the health care industry, whose unending expansion now hangs like a millstone around our necks? 

No, I suppose he’s talking about renewable energy – wind power and solar – industries that have existed on the margins for decades, languishing for lack of demand, a demand that may have picked up dramatically if his “cap and trade” program hadn’t opted instead to rely almost exclusively on carbon capture and sequestration instead of a big move toward renewable energy.

And if the demand for solar panels and wind turbines – equipment widely available from foreign manufacturers – does pick up, what are the odds that he will do anything to steer that demand to American suppliers, risking  the very charges of “protectionism” from the rest of the world that have cowed him into inaction on other trade issues?  And even if he did, would jobs created in those fields even offset the jobs lost in the conventional power industry? 

Obama has cast his lot with economists who, simultaneously clinging to their half-hatched 18th century theories of free trade and curling into a fetal position and covering their ears at any suggestion of concerns about overpopulation, steadfastly proclaim that jobs magically appear for anyone who wants them, regardless of how fast we pile on new workers with never-ending population growth.  They’re absolutely incapable of comprehending that consumers can’t possibly continue to consume at the rate necessary to absorb the productive output of a swelling labor force, magnified by increases in productivity. 

Instead of real action to help American workers, Obama, like every other politician, dangles the carrot of “retraining.”  During his speech in Michigan, he praised Governor Jennifer Granholm’s “No Worker Left Behind” program in which a few workers have successfully retrained for new jobs with Michigan’s budding but miniscule film industry or with a couple of tiny makers of renewable energy equipment, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers waiting their turn in the unemployment lines.  It seems that retraining is needed because there are millions of jobs going unfilled simply because Americans are too dumb to perform them.  $12 billion to prop up community colleges.  Less than $100 per American worker.  That’s Obama’s plan to create jobs. 

Yet, real jobs, for which there is a real demand, seem to be reserved for other workers of the world.  Japanese, German, Korean and Mexican workers have a right to buid at least half of the cars driven in America.  You don’t.  Bangladeshi workers have a right to manufacture apparel.  You don’t.  Chinese workers have a right to manufacture virtually every other product imaginable.  You don’t.  Jobs for Americans?  Flip burgers.  Ring cash registers.  And, oh yeah, teach other Americans how to do something other than what they used to do.  Those are American jobs.

9 Responses to Obama Abandons American Workers

  1. ClydeB says:

    Well said.
    When will the folks catch on that re-training is simply another form of unemployment insurance as well as a way for government to delay facing reality?
    There can’t be enough “new” industries in the pipeline to have any hope of putting the out of work auto industry employees, much less the other segments of the unemployed workforce, back to work. it is imperative that we restore the dismantled manufacturing base. As you have so eloquently stated in Five Short Blasts, playing field levelling tariffs are to only effective method to get that started. Getting the politicians to remove their heads from the place where the sun doesn’t shine and recognize the problem would be a giant first step.

  2. mtnmike says:

    Terrific article today. During the campaign, Obama promised jobs in Michigan decrying McCain’s statement that those jobs would not return. (McCain would have been a terrible president also).

    I truly admire you for publicly reversing your opinion of Obama and stating exactly what he is; nothing more than a paid and manipulated figurehead.

    We have the right to make cars and apparel, so long as we are willing to adhere to U.S. costs and labor laws while competing with third world nations.

    The U.S. set out on an impossible voyage that required exponential domestic growth, cheap domestic resources, high employment, and strong personal savings.

    Today we lack all of the elements that spawned the greatest Middle Class in the world.

  3. mtnmike says:

    Clyde said, “When will the folks catch on that re-training is simply another form of unemployment insurance.”

    That’s sorting the wheat from the chafe Clyde! Great statement and great truth.

    The reality is that this administration had the delusional misconception that economies ALWAYS recover. How? Well, they just do.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Thanks, guys. As I’ve said in the past, I have no love for either party. I jumped on Obama’s bandwagon when he promised to fix the trade problem, but will be among the first to jump off if he reneges on this promise. His “t.s.” message to the auto workers seems a clear signal that he now has no intention of following through on those promises. Shame on me for being suckered. But it’s not as though we had any other great choices, as usual.

  4. Mark A. Hall says:

    Enough Said Pete……

    Some of us are not very good at curling up into a fetal postion. We are better at laying out flat, like laying in a coffin.

    I bought mine today……..


    • Pete Murphy says:

      Mark, you’re dry wit is a nice addition to the discussion here. I hope you keep following the blog!

      • Mark Hall says:

        Thanks Pete,

        But, my dry wit doesn’t compete with your flowery wit.

        Have you been taking some “Job Retraining” creative writing classes. Don’t lie, tell us the truth…


  5. ClydeB says:


    I would not say you were suckered. You were hopeful. We disagreed, but as you know, I’m so conservative that I won’t even make left turns. I really didn’t have a candidate.
    The Republican party has moved so far left in the political spectrum that from the center and to the right is wide open for cultivation.
    Many things had folks ready for change and Mr. Obama said he would leave nothing unchanged.

  6. Mark Hall says:

    Maybe President Obama is partially correct.

    In these difficult times, innovation and technology is starting to pay off for some our brighter entrepreneurs.

    A Michigan man recently proclaimed that he has developed a device in which he expects the annual growth in nation wide demand to exceed 50% in the first (3) years.

    His device is designed to automatically dispense “Meal Tickets” at our “Soup Kitchens”.

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