In the 1800s, textile mills in New England ditched higher-paid workers by opening mills in North Carolina and then fighting workers’ efforts to make a living wage here.
In the 1990s, trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement allowed companies to shift jobs to places where they could pay workers a fraction of what they made in the United States and where they were more free to pollute with total abandon and to ignore safety standards.
Once China was allowed into the World Trade Organization in 2000, jobs started going there as well.
Corporations no longer felt any responsibility toward their workers or their country; they became multi-national and their loyalty is to the bottom line.
Meanwhile, jobs continued to be shipped overseas, driving up competition for jobs that were still here, which drove wages and benefits down.
Mitt Romney’s company, Bain Capital, was in the thick of this. In fact, it has been called a pioneer in the outsourcing of jobs.
North Carolina has lost about 10,800 jobs each year to China alone — 108,000 in the last decade alone; nationally some 1.6 million jobs were lost to China.
Before the economic meltdown in 2008, a large percentage of jobs in North Carolina were exactly the type that were being outsourced — textile and clothing manufacturing. Now many of those jobs are outsourced and not coming back.
The jobs that are being created — food service, home health aides and cashiers — are low-paying and do not create a path to the middle class as manufacturing jobs did. And that is why our economic recovery has been so anemic.
Mitt Romney doesn’t want us to know about his dealings at Bain Capital because those dealings were part of the reason for the lack of jobs we have now. Making money by taking jobs out of the United States is not the kind of business experience we want for our United States.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.