Saturday, January 06, 2007

Poor Old Arkansas

I am getting more and more alarmed about the fate of our state, not to mention our country. Arkansas is losing jobs by the thousands every year. Lately, plants have been closing almost daily, according to the newspapers, putting hundreds of people out on the unemployment rolls. And, now, I've heard that the company I used to work for is closing its last Arkansas plant, in Batesville, in September. They are going to move the Batesville operation to China. They tried once before to "partner" with a Chinese company and it failed. I can only wish the same fate on them this time, too. One of my bosses used to brag to visitors from other companies that the plant in Harrison had the lowest pay outside of Mexico. I think I may have mentioned this before, but it still rankles when I think of it. Keeping people at poverty level is nothing to brag about.

How many other states are being devastated by big corporations who are closing all their plants in order to move to other countries? Arkansas is a small, poor state. There don't seem to be any other factories moving in to take the place of the ones moving out. And, at least in Harrison, the factory workers aren't particularly highly skilled. So, the only alternative for them is "You want fries with that?" or "Welcome to Wal-Mart".

I keep hearing how robust the economy is. How unemployment is under 5% for the first time in years. The only problem with that is that when they figure the unemployment numbers, they don't take into account all the people who ran out of unemployment benefits a long time ago, and have finally given up on getting a job.

When are we going to wake up and start protecting our own people? We are rapidly becoming a service economy, with no one making more than $6 or $8 per hour. And, who can live on that?

When are we going to start punishing the big corporations that are abandoning this country, yet keeping their home offices here because they don't want to have to live where their workers are? As far as I'm concerned, they are no longer American companies and should have to move their headquarters to the countries they are benefiting.

Rant over.


Peggy said...

I blame the loss of the family farm. The loss of these small farms is killing the small town all across the US. Bigger is NOT better. The farmer kept a host of other small businesses in business from seed companies to the local coffee shop. Now we have fast food, Wal-Mart and corporate farms. Something must turn around! Perhaps there will be another depression, all the corporations will go bust and have to sell the land in small bits - to farmers.

We have a fish packing place 12 miles from here that is closing. They're going to ship the frozen fish and prawns to Asia for processing and then ship them back to sell to us. I hope they don't expect that all the former employees will continue buying that fish.

Dogwalkmusings said...

If you want to see what it's like living in a service economy such as you describe, visit northern Idaho. The town "bosses" do everything in their power to keep the pay scale low even to the extent of influencing what courses are offered at the little local college.

Not pretty.

willi said...

I remember when big factories started moving to Arkansas. And Why? Cheap Labor, the kind your former boss was bragging about.

It is a shame what corporations are doing. I agree, they do not seem to be American companies any longer. They have their own interests and those interests are not necessarily American.

A future of service workers will not be pretty. Factor in the health care issues and you can forecast a very poor America for most. But not all, there will remain the fortunate few that maintain high stature in those international corporations. They will be purchasing the fish and prawns that Peggy is talking about.

Peggy may be on to something forecasting another Great Depression.

It is sad to hear about Arkansas, but unfortunately it is a story that is happening all over our country.

Alan G said...

I completely agree Betty and unfortunately one of our home-bred businesses is leading the way and showing everyone else how to do it. That being Wal-Mart of course. Wal-mart has forced several of its major suppliers to open shop in China and even forced some to close their doors because they couldn't compete. It is all about money.

PBS had aired a couple of excellent programs on this subject.

The 4th Sister said...

When will it change????? Not when Bush is in charge, that's for sure...

patsy said...

i think the only way to stop this out flow of jobs is to tax the h----out of these companys. ross peroit told us when they started the free trade thing we would heard a giant sucking sound as our jobs went out side our country. what the companies don't relize is if we people don't have jobs we can't buy their products , they are taking the short view and getting rich quick. some of the companies i believe have even found ways to advoid paying taxes in our country but i believe we had a thing in the past called tarrifs. bring them back.

John said...

It's pretty much the same here in the UK. Most of the major 'British' companies are now in the hands of foreign owners and wages are under threat from Eastern European workers from the expanded EU.