SPRINGFIELD -- Folks in Congress are all shook up that our Olympians will compete this summer wearing uniforms made in China.|
After hearing the political rhetoric, one would presume that American sweat and Chinese textiles just don't mix.
The reality is much more complex.
We live in a global economy and there is no turning back that clock.
Sadly, when organized labor and many politicians talk about protecting American jobs, they really are talking about protecting "union jobs."
A good case in point is President Barack Obama's bailout of the "American" auto industry.
The fact of the matter is this nation has two auto industries.
One composed of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler is mostly Midwestern and is unionized.
It is also burdened with massive obligations to retirees and unrealistic benefits for employees. That's the one the president and the previous Congress chose to bail out.
The other American auto industry is mostly Southern and non-union. The owners of these factories are Japanese, European and Korean companies. But their workers are every bit as American as the ones laboring on assembly lines in Detroit.
Frankly, I couldn't give a hoot whether the person who built my car, sewed my suit or assembled my computer paid dues to a union.
That said, I do try to buy American.
I don't do it out of some misplaced patriotism. I do it because I believe American workers are among the best in the world.
I proudly drive a Honda -- made in Lincoln, Ala.
When I was growing up in Galesburg, the town made refrigerators, lawnmowers, outboard motors, steel buildings and microwave ovens.
Every one of those factories had strong unions and none of them exist anymore. They couldn't -- or wouldn't -- compete successfully in a global marketplace.
It's not just the contracts the unions negotiated that made those plants uncompetitive, it was also the laws those unions pushed for in Springfield. It became harder for a place like Galesburg to compete for jobs whether the competitor was a town is South Carolina or a city in China.
The best way to protect American jobs is through informed citizens -- no matter whether their destination is a voting booth or a checkout line.
I wear a pair of boots made in Redwing, Minn., dress shoes made in Belleville, Ill., and sneakers made in Lawrenceville, Mass.
The dress shoes and boots will last decades -- with a little help from a Springfield cobbler. The sneakers fit perfectly -- the right size and width, unlike most foreign-made pairs.
American workers are among the best in the world and can compete with anyone -- as long as government and unions aren't holding them back.
Scott Reeder is an Illinois Statehouse reporter.
Colona, IL Details
|(More Print Ads)|