We Have the ‘Know-how’

The headlines seen in today’s leading newspapers and journals are an indication of the adverse effects being felt around the world because of increasing U.S. unemployment.

• The effect: “Economic meltdown fries U.S. meat exports”— The cause: U.S. unemployment.
• The effect: “A.P. Moller-Maersk lays off 700 in China”— The cause: U.S. unemployment.
• The effect: “Samskip pulls ship from Iceland service”— The cause: U.S. unemployment.
• The effect: “September cargo, passenger traffic figures plummet”— The cause: U.S. unemployment.
• The effect: “Idle ship capacity thought to be at 150,000-TEU level and growing”— The cause: U.S. unemployment.
• The effect: “Collapse of auto sales points to deep recession”— The cause: U.S. unemployment.
• The effect: “Circuit City to close stores, lay off thousands in US”— The cause: U.S. unemployment.

It should be clear by now that the solution to the world’s economic woes is the creation of jobs in the U.S. As unemployment increases in this country, the buying power of the U.S. consumer decreases. And when U.S. consumers can no longer purchase foreign made goods, international commerce goes south. Job creation, therefore, should be on the front burner of every U.S. policymaker and financial guru. But it isn’t.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, for example, has warned that the current economic turmoil will continue for some time … so what does he intend to do about it? He states that he is focusing “on the coordinated effort to stabilize world markets and the U.S. financial system”. But he says not a word about creating jobs for the unemployed consumer. Maybe because he doesn’t know how.

And several months into the effort to untangle the mess created by those greedy “Wall Street” geniuses, former Treasury Secretary James Baker was inclined to admit, “No one knows who owes what with which and to whom.” But he says not a word about creating jobs for the unemployed consumer. Maybe because he doesn’t know how.

A General Motors VP was heard complaining about “an unprecedented credit crunch that is dramatically impacting the entire U.S. economy … The credit freeze has also had a very negative impact on consumers’ confidence and their purchase behavior across America.” But he says not a word about creating jobs for the unemployed consumer. Maybe because he doesn’t know how.

Are we wrong to expect that U.S. officials should be smart enough to realize that this rapidly sinking economic vessel of ours can take on only so much water? And are we wrong to expect our elite to know that, historically, shipbuilding has always enriched nations, and that revitalizing shipyards and building a merchant fleet is the only possible way to create jobs and halt this nation’s death spiral?