Book Review: Exporting America by Lou Dobbs

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Sue King
Independent Consultant

The only notable voice speaking loudly and publicly about the problem of exporting jobs out of America is Lou Dobbs, regularly on CNN and, more recently, with his bookExporting America.

This is a short survey of the topic—196 pages, including a 29 page listing of companies that are exporting jobs. The book espouses several major, irrefutable themes:

  1. Never before have there been fewer business leaders willing to commit to the national interest over the growth and profit interests of the companies they lead.
  2. Corporate America dominates US politics and government regardless of political party and to the significant detriment of our national interests.
  3. The reality of global economics is a continuously growing trade deficit, increased unemployment, and reduced tax revenues which, left unfettered, will change the face of the American workplace forever.

Dobbs spends much of the book describing examples of appalling job losses in the US, showing clearly how the industries affected include both manufacturing as well as high tech, high value jobs. Professional jobs, previously thought “safe” from offshoring, are being massively offshored, including life sciences, law, accounting, and business management. Forty of the fifty states are now offshoring jobs. In addition to the appalling loss of jobs is the significant risk of massive amounts of technical knowhow and personal data leaving our shores with virtually no effective protection.

Dobbs describes twelve myths of offshoring and free trade. After all this, he offers a scant three pages of “solutions” to the problem:

  1. Federal and state governments should immediately prohibit offshoring of government contracts and American jobs to foreign labor.
  2. Our costly “free trade” agreements should be critically reviewed by Congress, and action should be taken to ensure they are either amended to assure balanced trade or ended.
  3. We must reexamine our relationship with the World Trade Organization.
  4. We must insist that any US multinational company that offshores jobs meets the same privacy standards for its American citizens as if its operations were based in the US.
  5. We must provide more incentives to keep jobs here at home.
  6. (This reviewer adds:) We must plug the holes in our immigration and tax policies that Corporate America can use to their advantage in offshoring.

Dobbs says that “reversing decades of free-trade-at-any-cost policies, destructive free trade agreements, and chronic trade deficits will require an honest public debate and then tough political choices.” This reviewer notes that effective action has taken place only when a public outcry has forced action. As Dobbs indicates, it is time for us to involve ourselves in our destiny and actively engage in the process that forces development of a future strategy to prevent the further detrimental unintended consequences of the present course.

For more information on Lou Dobbs’ book, visit www.amazon.com.

For a list of companies exporting jobs, visit www.cnn.com and click on the link to the right under the heading “From the Show”.

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