Here are some interesting numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in October of 1999 there were 109,487,000 non-farm, private-sector jobs in the United States. 10 years later, there were 108, 401,000, a loss of 1,086,000. The US population grew by 34,573,000 in the same period.

This decade was largely counted as a period of “growth.” And for a lucky few, it was. These are the few who control the economy, or what’s left of it. For the rest, not so much. Indeed, we would have to add 10,000,000 jobs just to get back to where we were in December of 2007, when the Great Recession began. Where are all the jobs going to come from? Beats me. The Obama administration is pinning its hopes on the “green” economy, but even if that is the next boom, why wouldn’t these jobs be outsourced just as all the others were?

Americans can compete with foreign workers, if the playing field is leveled. Indeed, Americans are the most productive workers in the world, or close to it. But we cannot compete with currency manipulations, slave labor, disregard for even minimal environmental or health standards, etc. Without abandoning the whole “free” trade ideology, an ideology peculiarly divorced from any actual reality, we cannot revive the economy. There are other things that need to be done, but without this nothing can be done.

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John Médaille
John Médaille is a businessman in Irving, Texas, and also an Instructor in Theology at the University of Dallas, where he teaches a unique course on the Social Encyclicals for Business Students. He is the father of five, grandfather of two, and husband of one. He is the author of The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace and is finishing up another book, Equity and Equilibrium: The Political Economy of Distributism. John also blogs at The Distributist Review.


  1. The oligarchy is increasingly realizing that the current free trade arrangements spells trouble and protectionism is not quite the dirty word it used to be. Here’s Martin Wolf from the Financial Times on the subject:-

    It will not be easy, however, to construct a protectionist policy without upsetting the owners of the substantial American investments in countries like China. I strongly believe that a partnering arrangement with tax incentives will replace current open-ended trade arrangements and protection for the United States economy will be gradually put in place without completely choking off imports from less developed countries. Balanced trading will suddenly become fashionable again for both economic and political reasons.

  2. Good. I was thinking about mentioning these statistics here in the comments and forgot. Actually, part of what I’ve found fascinating about FPR is that I come to this knowing a handful of economists who have been talking for some time about the value of reorganizing around local economies because the larger economies might simply be given to collapse. “Deglobalization” has become a buzz word, and it might be a fad. But I’m starting to suspect that the localism the FPR talks about might just become economic necessity in this century.

  3. I often harp on the increasing disparity in the distribution of wealth as a danger – but I was still shocked to read those statistics. Very sobering.

  4. I am one of the people who were hurt by this insane free trade policy. For the last decade my income has been roughly half of what it was in the 1990’s. I am 60 years old and won’t be able to make up the loses in my 401(k), which is now an annuity which I will have to tap before I’m 70.5 years old–will it still be there? Who knows! If I had been like my Scottish and Swiss French ancestors I would have it in silver buried in the cellar, but that would not be safe either as commodities like silver can be very volatile, not to forget that they can also be stolen. Last fall both the Republican and Democratic congressional campaign committees telephoned asking for donations and I told them “Why should anyone in their right mind out here in fly-over country give you a dime, since fall ’08 it has been very plain that whether a congressman has a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ behind his/her name they are owned by the likes of Goldman-Sachs. What I want is a viable third party!” The rector of my church says that they all should have $ signs in front of their names.

  5. Barry, Of course our political institutions are wholly-owned subsidiaries of corporate America, and every attempt at campaign finance “reform” just makes it worse. So my suggestion is to replace all campaign finance laws with just one. The system can collect as much money as it likes, from whomever it likes. However, all elected officials will be required those NASCAR suits with the names of their corporate sponsors prominently displayed. And they should be required to end every speech with an acknowledgment of their three top sponsors: “This message brought to you by Exxon, Citibank, and Merck Pharmaceuticals.”

  6. John,
    Our corporations are either wholly owned subsidiaries of government or equal partners. NASCAR suits should also be worn by corporate executives that say, “This product brought to you by FDA, EPA, DOD, via US Congress, signed by our Imperial Leader.”

  7. I’ve always worked for the state, or a non-profit that got grants from the state (federal, state, local), and I can assure you, that sector has had a huge growth. Some of the salaries aren’t fabulous, but the perks are, and now we’re trying to fatten our 403-b’s hoping all those private sector, real jobs won’t go away.

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