Posted by | December 30, 2010 19:09 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

Great news! According to a recent report released by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank,  “American” companies created over 2 million jobs last year! Unfortunately 1.4 million of the jobs were overseas, compared to less than 1 million here in America. It turns out that multinational corporations would prefer to hire wage slaves in China and India rather than deal with worker protections and safety regulations here in America. Who would have figured?

To combat this, Senate Democrats introduced a bill back in late September to at least stop providing tax breaks and subsidies for companies that continue to create jobs overseas rather than here in America. This is a proposal that was not only popular with progressives but conservatives as well. In fact, the second most popular item on the “job creation” section of America Speaking Out, an effort by Republican politicians to hear ideas directly from their voters to include in their “Pledge to America,” was the user-submitted idea to “Stop the outsourcing of jobs from America to other countries that do not pay taxes into the US and stop the tax breaks that are given to these companies that are outsourcing.” The idea behind the Democrats’ bill was that if companies want to hire workers overseas who will work for less money and still have the necessary skills to get the job done, that’s fine, but the US government should not be subsidizing them for it.

So of course, being a wholly owned subsidiary of multinational corporations, the Republicans ignored their own voters on this issue. They not only included nothing about eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for companies outsourcing jobs in their “Pledge to America,” they filibustered the Democrats’ bill. If those 1.4 million jobs created overseas by “American” companies had been created here in America the unemployment rate would be 8.9% right now. This is a bipartisan problem that should concern all Americans (except executives at multinational corporations, I guess), so I’d like to propose what I hope is a bipartisan solution.

Simply eliminating tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs is not enough. If workers in other countries can perform low-skill manufacturing jobs for less money, companies will find a way to hire them. What the real focus needs to be is on higher education and investing in human capital here in America. With only one job available for every five applicants, why not provide $10,000 tuition grants for these people, rather than having 80% of the unemployed fruitlessly search for jobs that are not there right now. Why not get these people back to school so they are adequately prepared for when companies are hiring again? In fact, no one in this country should have to go into debt in order to afford college education.

As Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs points out, the U.S. is falling in most global rankings for higher education while others are rising. “We are not fulfilling the educational needs of our young people,” says Sachs. “In a globalized world, there are serious consequences to that.” My idea is not about creating a brand new entitlement program; it is about improving the quality of our workforce in a globalized economy. If Americans want to take the effort to improve themselves and their ability to work, that is definitely a behavior the US government should be subsidizing more, unlike the outsourcing of US jobs to foreign countries. Providing universal college education will increase deficits in the short-term by a couple hundred billion dollars a year, but it is essential in the long-term for this country to improve the skills of its workers and create high-skill high-paying jobs in this country.

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