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Labor Day is a wake, not a celebration

[Here is the beginning of an OpEd published on Labor Day in the Providence Journal.  For the full piece, click here.]

WITH NO SMALL IRONY, Labor Day has become much more about finding cheap Chinese goods on sale than a celebration of the strength and dignity of the American worker. No doubt, both the late Mao Zedong and the late AFL-CIO president George Meaney are turning over in their graves.

In fact, the emergence of China as the world’s factory floor appears to be the final nail in the coffin of the American labor movement. The problem is one of simple numbers.

Since China’s emergence as the world’s factory floor, the U.S. has lost over 2 million manufacturing jobs while blue-collar wages in America have remained stagnant. Moreover, the industries suffering the most read like a Middle American tragedy.

In less than a decade, China has vaporized over 60 percent of America’s textile jobs, over half of its apparel jobs, over 40 percent of its semiconductor and electronic-components jobs, and roughly 20 percent of the jobs in the auto-parts, printing, paper and plastics industries.

It would be one thing if China were hollowing out America’s manufacturing base with a labor force that is simply more disciplined, educated and harder working. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

CLICK HERE to read full article…