On Contact: COVID-19 And Critic Of Globalization

| Resistance Report

On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to John Ralston Saul, author and president emeritus of Pen International, about how the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the weakness of American society, and accelerated the decline of the American Empire.

Among Saul’s many books are: The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World, and Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.

YouTube channel: On Contact

Follow us on Facebook: Facebook.com/OnContactRT

Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/rttv/sets/on-contact

  • GaryReber

    Unfortunately, our political leaders over the past five decades have paved the way for an exodus of our manufacturing, led by the controlling owners of American corporations and industries, and their political allies, resulting in direct investment in the development and execution of manufacturing in slave-wage countries. Aided by years of massive tax cuts and incentives they built manufactories and offices around the world, shutting down manufactories and jobs in our homeland. This investment and exodus have enabled those countries to build their productive and technological capabilities, and in the case of Communist China become the world’s manufactory, while thousands of factories were shut down and millions of jobs were eliminated in the United States. Restoring manufacturing in the United States no doubt will prove a rough transition, as just in the past two decades since free trade was opened, China has dominated the production of goods previously manufactured in our homeland.

    The offshoring of production is the reason the United States is deficient in critical medical equipment, medicines, and supplies as Americans face widespread shortages in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have put ourselves at unnecessary peril.

    For the controlling owners of American corporations, it was cheaper to relocate production offshore, invest and manufacture goods offshore, and import back the products to the United States. Expanded free trade was supported with tax breaks to corporations offshoring production. Thus, production and importing back for American consumption was made even cheaper and thus more profitable still.

    While intermediate supply chain and final goods exported from Communist China to the United States have been halted in many industries, we have yet to rebuild and expand our own homegrown manufacturing capabilities, and, as a result, we remain dependent on foreign supply chain and finished goods production. Not only are we still dependent on China, but even products in Japan’s and South Korea’s supply chains are essentially made in China and other parts of Asia, with materials and goods delivered to those countries, and then exported to the United States. The same situation is true for goods shipped to Mexico from Asian sources and then exported as final goods to the United States –– or from Asia to Europe, and then to the United States.

    The actions that got the United States where we are today include the failure to take United Auto Workers Walter Reuther’s advice to keep wages where they are and help workers get their increases from the bottom line. Reuther warned that higher wages would destroy entire industries by lowering their competitiveness in international trade. Had we taken Reuther’s advice, businesses would not have set up shop in slave-wage countries like China.

    Why is broadening ownership so important? Ownership entails reaping the fruits of all contributions that one makes proportionately to the productive process, whether via the productive capital one owns or one’s labor, or both. A person’s labor is compensated either by wages or by a share of what the enterprise produces that is attributable to their labor contribution. It is important for ALL the employees to own shares of the companies that employ them to build a productivity culture throughout the organization. Owning thereby entitles workers to the rewards of their own labor as well as that produced by their proportionate share of the physical capital.

    No one knows how much disruption our interconnected and service-oriented economy can endure, especially since the past few decades have seen a debilitating decline in and rapid exodus of our manufacturing capabilities. We should have instead been in constant retooling mode with restoration of our manufacturing capabilities and constant technological improvement through research and development. As a result, we no longer manufacture the clothing, appliances, electronics, furniture, cars, infrastructure materials, lifesaving medical equipment, medicines and all manner of supply chain production, necessary to live and consume in today’s world.

    Such dependency is now painfully evident, as administrations over time have allowed us to become dangerously reliant on medical equipment and supplies, and drug production from Communist China.

    While our production of critical medical equipment and supplies is woefully inadequate, China produces a reported 115 million N95 and surgical face masks a day, with a surplus so great that China can supply to countries in need.

    If we hadn’t outsourced nearly all of our manufacturing with job-killing free-trade agreements, we would have had the capacity to manufacture testing kits for the COVID-19 disease and not been waiting on Communist China to send them to us (the lack of test kits, rapid testing and investigative contact tracing is the reason we lost the ability to spot and contain the virus). We also would have the ability to manufacture the N95 face masks, shields, gowns, gloves, lifesaving ventilators and other equipment the medical community is in a panic to have to meet the life-threatening challenges of the crisis. While we are supposedly among the world’s leading manufacturers of specialized lifesaving ventilators, supply levels are woefully inadequate and must be urgently ramped up to meet demand and for preparedness in the future.

    The net effect has been a significant drop in our homeland production and our growing dependency on foreign production. Regrettably, producer-corporations have unnecessarily extended their supply chains and finished goods manufacturing to all parts of the globe and invested in lower-cost foreign production in order to boost short-run profits and share prices for their owners. As a result, the American economy is exceedingly vulnerable to external shocks to our supply chains as the world’s supply chains are fixing to buckle and freeze-up, thereby causing production and incomes to fall abruptly. In turn, shrunken incomes and cash flows will collapse the edifice of non-productive debt and speculation that has been piled atop the American economy.

    This crisis should finally make everybody realize that there needs to be self-sufficiency for EVERY individual and the country. We must decouple our manufacturing reliance on other countries, to the greatest extent possible, and fully develop our economic infrastructure to produce in our homeland.

  • chetdude

    A few minor quibbles with your article.

    A) China is NOT “Communist” — they are a state capitalist operation implementing the lessons their leadership learned at Harvard Business School, the Haas School of Business and the University of Chicago.

    B) Why not go the extra step to Community/Worker OWNERSHIP of the means of production along with democratic governance of both Communities and the workplace?

    C) We need a serious examination of what’s produced and insure that what’s being done conforms to the following definition of Sustainability:

    1. The integration of human social and economic lives into the environment in ways that tend to enhance or maintain rather than degrade or destroy the environment;

    2. A moral imperative to pass on our natural inheritance, not necessarily unchanged, but undiminished in its ability to meet the needs of future generations;

    3. Entails determining and staying within the balance point among population, consumption and waste assimilation so that bioregions, watersheds and ecosystems can maintain their ability to recharge, replenish and regenerate.

  • 0040

    I used to be an avid reader of both these guys , but in the last couple of decades they have become large L liberals , as their beliefs drifted to the right.while trying to maintain contact/relevance with their political niches which are also moving right. Mr Saul’s position too a far greater degree of course , since he has lived off government largesse for decades , and like Mr Hedges who is running for congress someone posted ? is himself one of Voltaire’s bastards.

  • 0040

    Lowering wages is every neo-liberals/neo conservatives ultimate solution .