We are facing an economic crisis in this country. The way President Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders tell it, we are facing an invasion and an exodus all at the same time. President Trump’s biggest fear is the shuttering of factories who take their products and jobs with them. President Trump on many occasions has reiterated the falsehood that America’s manufacturing is on the decline arguing that “we don’t make anything anymore.” This, of course, is not true. Manufacturing output continues to reach record highs every year. Senator Sanders, on the other hand, is worried about the exact opposite problem. His concern is more on who is coming in than who is going out.
Bernie Sanders argued on the campaign trail that corporations were working to bring cheap labor into the United States to boost their bottom line and screw American workers. Back in 2015, while laying out his immigration policy, Bernie Sanders speculated that, “what I think they [wall street and corporate America] are interested in is seeing a process by which we can bring low-wage labor of all levels into this country to depress wages for Americans, and I strongly disagree with that.”
It’s great to see that fear mongering can bring out the bipartisanship so rarely seen in Washington.
Trump and Sander’s are right. America is in a crisis. It’s just not the crisis they imagine.
Back in April, Tyler Durden over at Zero Hedge picked up on an interesting factoid from the Federal Reserve’s normally “drab beige book.” The Fed found that the lack of skilled and quality employees in certain markets was restraining the growth that should be naturally happening within our expanding economy. This completely blows up the arguments made by Trump and Sanders. Not only are there jobs available in this country but even with expanded visa programs, we still can’t fill all the positions.
So what is going on? The Boston Fed seems to have found an answer, “one respondent said that during a recent six-month attempt to add to staff for a new product, two-thirds of applicants for assembly line jobs were screened out before hiring via math tests and drug tests; of 400 workers hired, only 180 worked out.” A math test and a drug test knocked out 66% of the applicants. I think we found our problem. Now, this could have been a fluke. Maybe this was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, it seems to be an epidemic.
Regina Mitchell, a co-owner of a factory in Ohio recently told the New York Times that 4 out of 10 otherwise qualified applicants couldn’t pass a drug test. Some people are going to argue this is a good case for drug legalization. Think again. Mitchell told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that the necessity of drug tests was for safety reasons saying, “we have a 150-ton crane in our machine shop. And we’re moving 300,000 pounds of steel around in that building on a regular basis. So I cannot take the chance to have anyone impaired running that crane, or working 40 feet in the air.”
To make matters worse the legalization of marijuana is actually causing more problems than it is solving, “the difficult part about marijuana is, we don’t have an affordable test that tells me if they smoked it over the weekend or smoked it in the morning before they came to work. And I just can’t take the chance of having an impaired worker running a crane carrying a 300,000-pound steel encasement,” she said.
Drugs are clearly a huge problem and politicians are finally waking up to this realization. However, drugs are not the only problem. With so many politicians like Trump and Sanders blaming outside factors and using language like “American jobs,” Americans have developed an entitlement mentality. They feel that they are entitled to a job regardless of their work ethic or attitude. JD Vance writes about this poisonous attitude in his critically acclaimed book HillBilly Elegy. Vance details the unfortunate work habits and attitude problems of a young couple he observed in a tile warehouse:
“Both of them were terrible workers. The girlfriend missed about every third day of work and never gave advance notice. Though warned to change her habits repeatedly, the girlfriend lasted no more than a few months. Bob missed work about once a week, and he was chronically late. On top of that, he often took three or four daily bathroom breaks, each over half an hour…Eventually, Bob, too, was fired. When it happened, he lashed out at his manager: ‘How could you do this to me? Don’t you know I’ve got a pregnant girlfriend?’ And he was not alone: At least two other people, including Bob’s cousin, lost their jobs or quit during my short time at the tile warehouse.”
This, of course, is anecdotal evidence. For every one of these stories, I’m sure many can show me a great example of a young couple who is working and has a great work ethic. The issue isn’t whether or not we have good workers in this country — this is America of course we do. The problem today is we seem to have a lot less than we used to. The opioid crisis is ravaging this country physically and the entitlement mentality is destroying us mentally. If we truly want to Make America Great Again we may need to start by Making Applicants Great Again.