The days of guaranteed retirement benefit in the form of a pension are long gone. As numbers out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics show – defined benefit retirement pension are on a drastic decline since 1981. That was the year when over 80% of full-time workers in the private sector participated in a pension plan. By 1997, that number had plummeted to just over 50%. And by 2011, looking at all workers in all private businesses in America, fewer than 20% of workers have some sort of pension retirement plan. This translates into economic insecurity for seniors – especially now that Republicans in the House are trying to turn Social Security and Medicare over to private sector profiteers. This also adds to the growing list of things that Corporate America is taking from their workers, in its quest for higher and higher profits. In recent months – we’ve seen employers promise to reduce hours to avoid providing health insurance, we’ve seen the right to free political speech taken away, guaranteed vacation time and maternity leave don’t exist – workplace safety laws are getting watered down – heck, they’ve even taken our money by flattening our wages during a time of increased productivity. In some states, they even want to take away our bathroom breaks! This is nothing short of theft. And pretty soon, we’ll be handing over the shirts on our backs, just so that our bosses can squeeze whatever profits they can out of them.
So-called Free Trade is destroying our national manufacturing base. According to a new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, free trade relations with China, beginning in 2000, are responsible for cutting 30% of the manufacturing jobs we have in this nation. You can see this decline in the raw numbers. Around 2001, there were 17 million manufacturing jobs in America. Today – that’s dropped off drastically to 11.5 million. And according to the Economic Policy Institute – nearly 3 million of those lost manufacturing jobs went directly to China since 2001. Thanks to so-called Free Trade, our policymakers are exporting those crucial blue-collar jobs that sustained a prosperous middle class, from the end of World War 2 all the way until the 1980’s. And without those jobs, Americans are forced into the minimum wage service sector, asking, “Would you like Fries with that?” or greeting people at the door saying, “Welcome to Wal-Mart.” This is exactly what the transnational billionaires who push for these trade agreements want. And until we drop out of these so-called free trade agreements, and once again begin protecting domestic manufacturing with tariffs or VAT taxes – the middle class will continue to shrink – and America will look more and more like a collapsed nation that’s exported all of its wealth to the rest of the world.