Globalization changed all that. With a potent mix of currency fluctuations, currency wars, trade agreements that favored foreign nations, and general greater interconnectedness, we now have an economy where the U.S. worker has lost his or her good job, in exchange for the right to buy discounted plastic junk made overseas.
Wages for factory workers in the U.S. are significantly over minimum wage. Let's say a worker makes $15 an hour. If that worker works 1800 hours a year, that's $27,000 a year, or $120 a day. That same widget manufacturer can get the same widget made for 24 TIMES less, just about anywhere in the world, assuming the standard $5 a day manufacturing wage, which, by the way, is actually high compared to what several countries firms really pay.
What is the answer? Can the U.S. survive when China artificially depresses its currency, and when so many countries work to keep down their wages? It has already been decried as seriously unfair that China keeps its Yuan low, compared to the dollar. Most people understand that. Because it manufactures and sells goods in the Yuan, by keeping it artificially depressed, it makes Chinese exports more competitive than they would otherwise be. What about wages? How can U.S. firms compete when outsourcers depress global wages too? $120 a day versus $5 a day. Even with shipping costs, it is cheaper to manufacture abroad.
The status quo has global workers locked in poverty, unable to afford the very goods they make. It also has U.S. workers losing jobs to outsourcing, in every field from manufacturing to even service industries.
Hopefully it is needless to say that depressing American wages to 40 cents an hour is not the answer, and that even if we did, other countries would probably just engage in the the same Race to the Bottom and lower their wages further. It is time to demand from our federal leaders that something be done about currency and wage manipulators.