I was there, working in manufacturing in the 1980s, when a cold wind swept across America. I was there when our corporations, until then led by manufacturing and the engineers who rose up through its ranks, kicked manufacturing to the curb and replaced their leadership with marketing people, skilled in the art of B.S., and bean counters, focused on nothing but cutting costs. I was there when the United Nations and the World Trade Organization embarked on their campaign of raising poor nations out of poverty through the systematic plundering of jobs from the U.S. – as many jobs as possible without tipping the balance of power in favor of bad actors who might threaten this new concept of “globalism” and the “New World Order” – the new regime of parasites dedicated to keeping its U.S. host alive just enough to keep the blood flowing.
I was there when they began scaling back manufacturing operations, laying off good workers and closing plants. “Embrace change,” we were told constantly by business managers with an air of condescension, as though they were addressing fools too dumb to recognize good things and good opportunities when they see it. We had made careers of embracing change – change for the better – changes that automated our factories, boosted production, cut emissions, improved quality and grew profits. Now we were being insulted by con men whose only goal was the next promotion, which required laying off more people than the next guy.
I was there at a big division-wide meeting – one of those meetings whose purpose was ostensibly to gather input, but it was clear from the start that input was the last thing they wanted. What they wanted was “buy in” for the new direction of the company. In other words, you’d better accept what’s coming enthusiastically, with a big smile on your face, if you know what’s good for you. The leader, the division manager, asked, “what are we going to need to succeed?” I raised my hand and replied – perhaps naively or perhaps in a thinly-veiled attempt to stand up for what I and many others present had built our careers around. “We’ll need excellence in manufacturing.” I was stunned by his arrogant, dismissive reply. “Why? We don’t need that. We can buy that!” I thought to myself, “you dumbass, you can buy it if you want, but you still need it, and now you’re at the mercy of your supplier.” But it would have been a pointless example of falling on your own sword to come right out and say it. “Embrace change.” Here it comes.
Our final days before closing the doors were spent writing operating procedures, documenting every detail of our operations, and then training workers brought over from foreign subsidiaries. We were forced to facilitate the widespread technology transfer that played a critical role in ruining the American economy.
It’s decades later and the tables have turned. As it always does, the pendulum swung too far. The globalist corporations over-played their hand, planting the seeds of political change. Americans are sick of working for minimum wages and being the world’s chumps. America itself can no longer fund massive trade deficits. The wind has shifted and now blows cold on globalist dreams of reaping big profits from a China transformed into western-style consumers and from plundering the American market with cheap products. Those dreams never had a chance. China will never be more than a sweat-shop labor pool with their gross over-population dooming any hope of a western-style, consumer-driven economy.
In the meantime, a lot of weeds sprouted in the devastated American economic landscape. By “weeds,” I mean business models that bring so little value to the table that they are dependent on virtual slave labor wages. Cheap junk of poor quality has perpetuated a throw-away mindset among consumers. Cheap clothing made of thin, flimsy fabric. Tools that break after one use. Auto parts and appliances that break as soon as the warranty expires. An economy dependent on consumers burning through their severance packages. A retail economy that employed laid-off workers manning check-out lines until everyone had burned through their savings. An economy totally dependent on consumers buying stuff that they had no hand in producing. All the while the economy grew. It didn’t matter if the growth was flowers or weeds, as long as the color was green – money pouring into corporate coffers.
In the wake of Trump’s tariffs on China, retailers are having a hissy-fit when their suppliers ask for a price increase to cover the cost of the tariffs. Products with high perceived value needn’t fear. They’ll always find a way to be marketed successfully even if their prices do rise a few percent. Those with low value will bite the dust. Good riddance. And retailers who turn their backs on good products just because the supplier needs to raise prices to make a profit – whether to cover the cost of the tariffs or, better yet, to begin manufacturing domestically – will lose out to retailers who understand their value, and they too will fail and vanish. Again, good riddance. It’s not like there’s a shortage of retailers.
So, corporate America, the shoe’s now on the other foot. EMBRACE CHANGE! Think of the possibilities and opportunities – the opportunity to cut your shipping costs dramatically, to be in charge of your manufacturing again instead of being at the mercy of Chinese companies, to boost sales to American consumers with more buying power thanks to rising wages. EMBRACE CHANGE!! Maybe you can mitigate some of the increased cost by cutting fat at the top layers of your organizations – those con men who grew fat and rich by ruining the lives of the people who actually did the work. EMBRACE CHANGE!!! Maybe you’ll survive. If not, good riddance and adios. Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out. Your workers will be fine. The winning companies will snap them right up.