The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Kentucky—Trump, Trade, and the Truth

Dec 5, 2016

Ford recently announced that it would not be moving a small amount of production of the Lincoln MKC to Mexico, like it had previously planned. Donald Trump took credit for that change. Ford said that the change in plans was due to sales. We don’t know who is telling the truth and who is lying.

But it certainly is true that the issue of trade and jobs going to Mexico or elsewhere was a big issue in the election. Trump, Clinton, Sanders and many candidates, Republican and Democrat, campaigned about it. The media talked about it. It is an issue that many top union leaders have harped on for many years.

But what impact does free trade and trade agreements like NAFTA have on jobs? Certainly there is some impact. Any trade agreement is written for the benefit of the corporations and banks, and not for the benefit of workers.

But there are other factors that affect jobs, too. A study that was done at Ball State University said that 5.6 million manufacturing jobs were lost in the U.S. from 2000 to 2010, and that only 13% of the jobs lost were due to trade. The study said 87% of the lost jobs were due to other reasons.

Many jobs were lost due to speed-up: one person being forced to do the job of two people. Jobs were lost due to automation. Companies could use automation to keep everyone working and make everyone’s job easier, but instead companies use automation to eliminate jobs. And many jobs in places like the auto industry are outsourced to low wage companies inside the U.S. The jobs are still here, but they pay half or less of the wages.

So why is it that politicians and the media and the top union leaders always want to talk about the 13% of jobs lost and never talk about the 87%? Why do they blame all the loss of jobs on trade when that is a smaller part of the problem and not the main problem?

They want to pit us against workers in other countries and not talk about what the corporations are doing right here at home, taking away our jobs and lowering our wages. When the politicians and the media and the top union leaders want us to believe that trade is the problem, they are just covering up for the corporations and doing their dirty work.