Lou's List

Somewhat informed observations on politics and life from a wayward journalist.

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dorgan talks 'Ship' in Pittsburgh stop

North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan made an ill-publicized local appearance this evening to promote his new book, "Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America." Around 30 people managed to find out about this and were happy to focus along with the three-term Democrat on the economic crisis "free trade" and corporate welfare have brought to America's shores.

Dorgan's talk was fittingly held on the former site of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Mill on the South Side, now the upscale South Side Works retail complex. But Dorgan cited examples proving that the scourge of foreign job outsourcing has reached far beyond major industries like steel. He related the story of Huffy bicycle manufacturers in Ohio who spent their last day on the job removing the American flag decals that had appeared on their product for generations. Next time you're in the mood for "Mexican food," he said, pick up some Fig Newtons cookies. He related that cheap labor makes it more profitable for Pennsylvania House furniture to ship locally-cut lumber to China to have its product assembled and then reimport it than to pay workers here. One attendee lamented being unable to find American-made socks.

But Dorgan said the worst could be yet to come. He quoted business consultants' estimates that "42 million to 56 million outsourcable jobs" remain in the U.S., and detailed a recent trade deal with China that within the next year will allow Chinese-manufactured cars to be imported with a 2.5 percent tariff, while American cars headed to China will be slapped with a 25 percent tariff.

Driving him to write the book, Dorgan said, was his frustration with failing--four times--to pass an amendment that would strip tax incentives from companies who move operations overseas. This policy has led to 12,748 corporations allegedly opearating from the same address in the Cayman Islands, he said. He blamed situations like these on trade policy made with "softheaded foreign policy" rather than the economic interests of Americans in mind, and his colleagues' willingness to buy into corporate pleas for a so-called tax relief.

"You don't have to be a tax avoider to be internationally competitive," Dorgan said. "We need to have rules with respect to globablization."

Another galvanizing experience, he said, was chairing investigatory hearings on Enron at which former executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skillings appeared. "When you imagine the staggering amount of greed that was going on, it's almost unfathomable," he said.

Dorgan strayed only briefly onto other issues during the question-and-answer period, eliciting applause when he said that "There shouldn't be a vote anywhere in America not recorded on paper."

Questioners got less satisfaction when they pressed him on the need for comprehensive campaign finance reform, with the senator asserting only that polls showed that the American people don't favor public financing of campaigns. He skirted away from an audience member's observation that campaign cash from corporate lobbyists could be the main impediment to reforms on the issues he addressed.

But big money politics could be holding back more than just Dorgan's agenda. When asked if he would consider running for President in 2008, he replied only that he didn't think he could raise the $15-20 million considered necessary for a bid.


Blogger bathmate said...

I liked it.

3:47 PM  

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