The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

I am not an economist and don’t know much about how international trade works. It does appear to me that we do better when we make something here and sell it for more over there. It does create jobs here and it does produce a profit. Let me share with you one good and one recently bad example.

For the first time in the 102-year history of General Motors, the carmaker last year sold more cars in China than it did in the U.S. While GM sold 2.21 million in the U.S., they sold 2.35 million vehicles in China. I understand that to be good for jobs and the economy.

But on the other hand a lot of economic factors I don’t understand, (including wage scales, unions, government regulations, etc.) created an opposite situation in Bellevue, Washington. Myra Bronstein is the boss at WatchMark, the developer of software for cell phone companies. Bronstein and 17 other U.S.-based software testers met an airplane from India containing 20 engineers who had been hired to replace 20 of her programmers.

The 20 programmers from India would spend two months here to be cross trained by the American workers from WatchMark. If the WatchMark employees refused, WatchMark would withhold their severance payments.

You can imagine the distain and frustration. Bronstein described it as “the most difficult situation in the world.” There was really no choice for American employees.

The bottom line is that the U.S.-based software engineers start at $75,000 a year and the India-based engineers start at $15,000. That is some discrepancy.

I understand that this is a problem in a lot of areas. We desperately need jobs here. We also desperately need some balance in terms of wage and return.

I also know that one day I called a 1-800 number to ask about a credit card charge. Someone in India answered. I wondered how people in India could be answering a question about a bill I had at Chick-fil-A here in Montgomery! The people of India must know something that we don’t know.

How long can this kind of thing continue? Who is willing to step up and make some hard decisions and offer to make some sacrifices? I have a hunch it has to start at the top of corporations, organizations, etc. I think it has something to do with greed.

The Bible says that “Greed causes fighting; trusting the LORD leads to prosperity.” (Proverbs 28:25) It also talks a lot about greed that ultimately can become a downfall. “Then he said, ‘Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.’” (Luke 12:15) It also states that where we put our money is where our hearts really are. “Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness!” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

While I know you will consider it extremely simplistic, I propose that a return to our basic commitment to fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives in our world could solve the problem.

When need can replace greed, I figure we’re on the right track to solving our jobs problems!


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