Madison County Opinion...

JULY 14, 2004


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
July 14, 2004

Frankly Speaking

On keeping jobs in America
Our television channels are filled with political advertising as we approach the primaries. As usual, politicians are making promises they cannot keep.
Often they have no plans to keep them because they don’t understand the problem.
Take for example the frequently heard promise to “keep American jobs in America.” Politician after politician has made this promise. Yet not one of them has offered a plan or even a suggestion as to how they will do it. So I will make a suggestion for them.
Jobs are like water. They always flow to the lowest level. Here in America, the cost of labor is far too high. In places like Mexico or the Southern Pacific, people work for a small fraction of what American workers expect to be paid. It is natural that jobs flow to these less expensive work forces.
There are three ways to preserve American jobs. We have to increase the cost of labor overseas, decrease the cost of labor here at home, or try to equalize them by the use of excise taxes.
We have no practical way to influence labor prices in foreign nations short of invading them and imposing our work conditions on them. Just because it worked in the War of 1861, (The War Between the States), doesn’t mean it will work today.
Excise taxes can force the price of foreign goods up to levels close to domestically produced items, but that creates massive problems in world trade. Again, I refer you to the War of 1861. For those who do not understand that reference, I will explain at the end of this column.
The only practical solution is to reduce our cost of labor. We can do that by removing one of the largest elements of labor cost — payroll taxes.
Those of you who are working know what I mean. Every pay stub carries a list of deductions including federal income tax, state income tax, social security tax and Medicare tax. A large chunk of our payroll is taken away before we ever see it.
But America’s businesses are painfully aware of these extra expenses. Not only do they add heavily to our pay scales, companies have to match a portion of these cost out of their income. And these taxes are taken out at every step of the manufacturing process.
If you purchase a pair of American made shoes, your cost includes payroll taxes for the farm workers who raised the cows, the tanners who converted the cow hides to leather, the truck drivers who delivered the leather to the shoe maker, the shoe maker, the warehouse workers who distributed the shoes, the truck drivers who delivered the shoes, the salesman who sold you the shoes, the electrical workers who provided power for the shoe store, and so forth.
By the time those American made shoes move from the farm to your feet, payroll taxes have more than doubled the price. In order to have shoes that the average American can afford, they have to be manufactured in a less expensive labor market outside our borders. If we cut out the payroll taxes, the cost of manufacturing goods in America will be reduced dramatically, and many of those lost jobs will come home.
Now, about the War Between the States: America’s Northern manufacturers were determined to make the highest profits possible. They kept their labor cost low by the use of “white slaves” (indentured workers) in their factories. But they didn’t reduce their prices accordingly. They imposed heavy tariffs on the less expensive British goods coming into the South. Southern states were paying three-fourths of all federal taxes for the privilege of having a choice of goods to buy.
Abraham Lincoln’s primary campaign promise was to increase these taxes. The new Republican congress started enacting these taxes even before he was sworn in as President. The seven Deep South states, in order to escape these “abominable” taxes, took the legal actions of secession and formed the Confederate States of America. The Union then called out the army to occupy the Confederacy, (causing an additional six states to secede and join the Confederacy) and force them to pay up.
The result was a political, economic and social disaster for the South, but the Northern “robber barons” held on to their obscene profits.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
July 14, 2004

A Moment With Margie

Those barefoot summers
This summer reminds me so much of the summers of my childhood — not extremely hot (that is until the last few days) but muggy, almost tropical.
During those summers I was always barefoot, unless I was dressed for church.
By the end of summer vacation my feet were so brown and tough I think I could have walked unfazed across a bed of nails.
I can remember playing outside on muggy afternoons and quickly gathering up my toys to get inside before an afternoon thunderstorm came rolling in.
Once inside I would stand beside our open screen door (we didn’t have air conditioning) and breathe in the smell of rain while the wind blew my curls into tangles all around my face.
If it wasn’t thundering I would sometimes sneak outside to play in the rain, holding my face up to the sky. It was a delicious feeling (until Daddy caught me, anyway).
I loved how it felt after the storm went by – so clean and new. I can remember how good it felt to squish my toes in the wet sand of our back yard and run around leaving mushy distorted footprints.
We lived in an old house that was built using the foundation of a former one- room school house. The house was perched up on old bricks that usually had moss growing between them and wasn’t underpinned.
I would often crawl under our high front porch to play and I still remember the damp earthy smell of that place.
Sometimes for lunch I would make a sandwich, tie it up in a handkerchief on the end ofa stick (like I saw in the movies) and wander off into the woods or into the open field near our house for a picnic lunch, a trail of dogs and cats behind me, or down to the lake across the road (I was strictly forbidden from going too close to the edge).
I frequently played alone, but I don’t remember feeling that lonely – my play world was peopled with all kinds of folks supplied by a child’s vivid imagination.
I think spring and summer have always been my favorite seasons — and it is the smells, and the sounds that appeal to me.
My bedroom had two windows that opened onto our front porch and I went to sleep each summer night to the lullaby of crickets in the woods and frogs down on the lake.
And I remember the feeling of anticipating the day’s outdoor adventures when I woke to the sound of birds chattering through the open windows.
I still love those sounds. In the winter it is just too quiet – there is no night time lullaby and no good morning serenade.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal. Here e-mail address is madisonjournal@alltel.net

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