Here it is only April, and already we're inundated with election-year drivel. The election colors everything that goes on in politics this year. Such as a new study by the National Association of Manufacturers that concludes U.S. workers have it so good, they should feel warm and fuzzy about their employers.
The U.S. ``continues to be, as it has been for 20 years, the world's leading job-generating nation,'' the report said, citing the creation of 41 million net new jobs in the country from 1970 to 1995.
Sure, some people have suffered, the NAM admits. But that's because of slower economic growth and increased competition, both for companies and labor. In addition, taxes are too high; education and training too poor.
``In many cases, the problem isn't the lack of high-paying jobs, but the lack of workers to fill them,'' the NAM said.
So workers really shouldn't blame employers. Or so says the NAM, which, in accordance with its mission, lines up behind all pro-business legislation and those who favor that stance.
No doubt the NAM's analysis is correct, to a degree. But in the rubber industry, people have lost their jobs, been forced to take lower-paying positions, been sent out to pasture before their time or been required to cover a workload that two or three people used to handle.
It's generalizing, but there really is something of a collective paranoia in the rubber business brought on by the changes of the last 10 to 20 years. Constant restructuring, the decline of the middle-management class, the combinations of competitors and influx of foreign owners have people running scared.
Blame employers? Sure they do. But they don't do it out loud. Particularly within the larger companies, it's more like whispers in the hallways or outside the corporate headquarters, where they won't be heard.
The NAM disbelieves ``conventional wisdom'' that says U.S. workers suffer because of wage stagnation and job loss. Well, conventional wisdom isn't wrong, the NAM is.
Perhaps the NAM's ideas about how to improve the business-and therefore, the job climate-are sound. Its ideas to spur economic growth, develop better training and education, and promote exports have merit.
But a nation of secure, carefree workers? Sounds like election-year posturing.