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You can knock us Americans down, but you can’t keep us down.
For example, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were crashed to the ground on 9/11. But now, a new tower is rising from those very ashes – a soaring steel and glass monument to the American spirit, a powerful symbol of our national resiliency!
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Well – except for the glass. A company named Beijing Glass got the government contract to provide the window panes that’ll cover the first 20 stories of the tower. Yes, the monument to our national spirit is being sheathed with made-in-China glass.
What? Can’t American’s make glass? Of course – but our biggest corporations, like Corning and Guardian, have been quietly and quickly moving their production and our jobs to China. In just the past nine years, 30 percent of these jobs have been lost. “Those who’re looking through the rearview mirror waiting for the glass industry to come back,” snorts the chairman of Guardian, “should know it isn’t going to come back.” Indeed, Guardian now employs more workers in its 36 foreign plants than it does here.
Well, chirp the usual flock of free trade economists, it’s all about China providing “economies of scale” for manufacturers. Hogwash.
The glass industry’s rush abroad is all about getting cheap labor and massive subsidies from the Chinese government. For example, shipping heavy glass from Beijing to Manhattan would be prohibitively expensive – except that China subsidizes the transportation.
This is not free trade, it’s a raw deal. There should be a stiff tariff on all subsidized glass coming from China – and the new World Trade tower is so symbolically important that every inch of it should be American made. For more information, contact the United Steelworkers glass industry department: www.usw.org.
“Another Shifting Industry,” The New York Times, January 19, 2010.