Thursday, January 20, 2011

How many chicken feet for that flat screen?

After meeting with the world’s most powerful man today, that would be Chairman Hu Jintao, President Obama talked up our trade with China saying how the 100 billion in goods we sell China each year creates 500,000 American jobs. He didn’t mention that 4.5 million American jobs have gone to China in just the last ten years. His estimate of the jobs created is doubtless exaggerated since our biggest export is recycled card board and just how many jobs does that create? Fully half of the containers that go back to China with anything in them at all are filled with cardboard or other recycling. (the majority are empty. I wonder if the empty containers are counted as an export, probably)

We also export a lot of old growth forest logs, various ores and fresh water from Lake Superior. None of this creates very many jobs. We export roasted soybean meal and other value added farm products that are counted as manufactured goods. How do you add value to a farm product? Removing the feet from a chicken and throwing them into a barrel counts. We also do that with the leftovers from pork processing, this does create some jobs, mostly for undocumented workers at minimum wage.

We do sell aircraft from Boeing and Lockheed, the deals always include all the technology that goes into building them. Can you say J-20 fifth generation stealth fighter? How about long range hyper-sonic ship killing missiles? Anything to make a buck for US corporations, not that many jobs though. There might be some job opportunities in the military if China decides to flex its muscle, not that we would have an economy to pay for them.

On the bright side, Chairman Hu said today that China will go ahead with a 25 billion dollar order from Boeing. There had been some doubt that would happen with China close to rolling out its own wide body passenger jet. I had a conservative challenge me on this prediction by saying “would you fly on a Chinese jet?”. Guess what genius, that’s where Boeing gets their critical parts, so you are flying on one already. If you use an airline that has outsourced its aircraft overhauls to central America you maybe flying with black market parts that didn’t even pass Chinese inspection.

Initial jobless claims in the US were down sharply last week. Production of chicken feet and pork intestines must be up.


Andrea said...

Jobless claims don't mean unemployment isn't still going up. Perhaps the figures are somewhat of a measure, as a base, but so many people do not qualify for unemployment compensation. The country is full of contract workers who don't. People have stopped looking for work, particularly the 99ers, and after awhile we just run out of people who need to file new claims. Many are going into new debt to go to school for retraining, just to have some income while they hope they are training in the right field. So I'll be glad when whoever measures these things stops thinking that number means anything.