Who killed industry? Phil Gramm.
Art Robinson, after losing his Congressional bid, has returned to publishing his fine newsletter Access to Energy.
In the latest issue [not online, subscription only] he featured a chart that astonished me.
I wanted to verify and analyze the info in more detail, so I consulted the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
BLS has all the labor data you'd ever want, available in attractive graphs and Excel form. It's not well organized, but I finally located the graph that Art had used.
Here's the graph, with some "added value" in the form of snazzy color strips representing presidential terms.
The Rise and Fall of America
This is the total number of Americans employed in real manufacturing, i.e. making things
, from 1939 to 2010. [Would have preferred to run a full century, but BLS data starts at '39.]
The left half runs pretty much as I'd expect. Factoring out the initial hump from WW2 total mobilization, manufacturing gradually increased from FDR through Carter. Comrade Jimmy began the process of deregulation that handed our economy to the financial sector. Since then, every president has continued to steal jobs from ordinary black and white Americans to enrich Goldman Sachs.
The astonishing part is the last decade, the total smashup typically described (with a correct sound if not a correct meaning) as the "Bush Boom."
You might expect September The Eleventh Two Thousand And One to be the edge of the cliff, but it isn't. Looking closely at the data in spreadsheet form
, it appears that the death spiral began in late 1999.
Well, what's late 1999? Not a war or a presidential transition, but the Triumph of Phil Gramm, the Repeal of Glass-Steagall. Phil abolished the law that had prevented the Wall Street Mafia from stealing the entire country. After that, the Mafia roared into murderous action and stole the entire country.
Now focus on the 2008 drop, which finally knocked our productive sector back down to its 1946 size in absolute numbers. (Per capita, it's about half of 1946.) The crash of 2008 allegedly removed trillions from the financial sector. If we had an actual free market, you'd expect investment to flow back into manufacturing after such a complete loss of trust in banking. Nope, manufacturing dropped again
at that point, indicating that we no longer have anything resembling a free market. The people with money, the People Who Count, are now betting even more strongly on the Mafia because they make all the rules.
They design the laws of governments and they design the laws of economics to suit themselves. See Medaille's Plutonomics
for more details.
Another observation: the BushObama death spiral for manufacturing happened during the LOWEST TAX RATES in this whole 70-year span. Repooflicans continue to recommend even lower taxes as the "cure" for our economic woes. This graph tells you who they're curing. For a Repooflican, "Economic Disease" means that a few scant dollars are still wasted on those nasty old blue-collar Americans performing useful labor. We must do everything possible to cure this horrible disease! We must achieve "Economic Health", where ALL money goes to Mexico and China (with a nice hefty vig to Goldman Sachs for the transaction)!!!!!