• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Unexportable Jobs

    Here is a quote from the President’s new budget (emphasis added):

    “If we lead the world in the research and development of clean energy technology, we can create a whole new industry with high-paying jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. Some compare the promise of this sector to information technology.”

    “High-paying jobs that cannot be shipped overseas,” is a mantra of the left. It is an entirely bogus claim and even if it weren’t, it would be a bad idea.

    First, developing technology in the USA doesn’t guarantee that the jobs using the technology will stay in the USA. The budget’s author couldn’t have chosen a more ironic example than information technology. Virtually all of the cell phones, computers, MP3 players, pick any information technology, are made overseas.

    Green technology has no magical immunity to trade pressures. About half of our wind turbines are manufactured by foreign companies. No matter what we do to develop more efficient solar cells, there is nothing to insure that they will not also be manufactured overseas.

    But, here is a more fundamental problem with the “jobs that can’t be exported” vision: It would focus our workforce on making goods that can’t be imported and, therefore, on goods that can’t be exported. That is, we would have a no-trade economy.

    This attitude exposes the administration’s anti-free-trade, mercantilist proclivities—like those of postwar Albania. Albania’s donkey-cart economy may have been pretty green, but only because it impoverished its citizens.

    Chaining our future to jobs that “can’t be exported” is much worse than the typical protectionism. With normal protectionism, we produce things for which we don’t necessarily have a comparative advantage. But that doesn’t prevent us from producing those goods for which we do have an advantage.

    In contrast, the “unexportable” jobs are ones for which no country can have a comparative advantage. What can’t be traded on the international market? Medical services? No, there is a burgeoning medical tourism trade. Legal services? Nope, they can be imported as well. Repair work? If the goods to be repaired can be traded, their repair can as well.

    Information and intellectual work can be traded internationally. Anything tangible that isn’t too large to move can be traded. What’s left are services that need to be performed on physical items too large to move.

    Construction jobs and repairing things that can’t be moved may well be good jobs. But, if that’s all we do, we won’t have much of an economy.

    A country that bets its future on avoiding trade is a country living in fear and a country with its economy in full retreat. America has thrived on free trade and will continue to do so if allowed.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Unexportable Jobs

    1. Elaine K. Hergert, W says:

      Is Obama really a U.S. citizen? Has anyone seen an authentic, certified copy of his birth certificate? Why is he refusing to present the original and instead shows a copy that has obviously been altered, at least by some who claim to be experts.

      Is there anyway you can prove to me that he is not a phony?

      The media has completely ignored this controversary before his election and now!

    2. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      The mindless usage of the term "Green energy" is baseless. What is so green about wind power or solar power? Wind power on a large scale will kill millions of birds of all kinds. Is that OK? The solar panels will cover up the earth preventing farming. Those forms of energy will require significant land area to produce a fraction of our total energy needs for a modern civilization.

      Wind turbines and blades are already manufactured overseas. Solar panels will also end up there. To think that those forms of energy production will keep the manufacturing bottled up within the US is another marker for stupidity. The US is not manufacturing friendly-unions, environmental zealots, taxes, trial lawyers, government regulations, cost of capital and the complete disdain for capitalism at any level.

    3. Jeff, Ohio says:

      ANWR- and offshore oil and natural gas drilling jobs can't be outsourced…

    4. Tim, South Carolina says:

      Please explain to me how trade with China constitutes "free trade"? The way I see it trade with China is rigged massively in their advantage:

      1: Currency-China fixes their currency- the basis for trade with China (exchange) is exempted from market forces. Since devaluing the Chinese monetary unit in 1994 -the trade gap between the US and China has grown exponentially..

      2: Foreign direct investment is tightly controlled by the communist government. No foreign entity can own more than 49% of a Chinese business enterprise.

      3: China severly restricts the importation of finished goods, local production is mandatory for most Chinese market goods.

      4: China subsidizes all industry

      5: China does not enforce health, safety, or environmental regs.

      Congratulations to the right-wing and Clinton administrations: China has stolen vast amounts of the US industrial base -the silver lining is that the richest .5% of Americans have captured even more wealth…..

      The US economy is rapidly emulating the economy of Great Britain -weak, low growth, service based, and foreign owned….

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.