The topics of Greg Spotts' "American Jobs" (called "critically important" by conservative economist Lou Dobbs) were hotly debated in the 2004 election campaign. America's manufacturing sector - the backbone of industrialized America - remains in trouble. NAFTA quickly allowed many jobs to be outsourced to Mexico or Asia, with low minimum wages and similarly low standards of living. As one woman puts it, "They could hire sixteen workers over there for the wage they paid me here." Along with those wobbles in the last decade, especially since 2001, we now have a movement for CAFTA - Central American Free Trade Act, similar to NAFTA, but for a different part of the world. It could mean a loss of even more domestic American jobs.
Americans might think our economy is now safely led by information technology, but still feel the effects of outsourcing. Many jobs are are being offshored to India, where phone support, programming, research, and development can be done for pennies on the dollar. Through loopholes in work-visa applications, corporations bring immigrant workers to the American workplace to train them at wages below those of their American counterparts', and then ship the newly-trained workers back home to set up shop cheaply. The result is unemployed Americans, and the erosion of our middle class. Thus the tax base is dwindling, and social services in this country are also starting to erode.
First-time writer and director Spotts avoids partisan politics by interviewing people laid off from manufacturing jobs, then shows senators on either side of the political spectrum arguing NAFTA, and includes footage of the head honcho of Apex Digital, a huge corporation that buys electronics made cheaply in Asia, then sells them at major retail chains below what domestic manufacturers can. Spotts interviews people laid off from a North Carolina textile mill, as well as white-collar programmers and web developers who lost jobs that were shipped off to India.
The film is a very interesting, slightly frightening look at the strength of corporate control in the U.S. Despite pockets of hope - proposed legislation that might counteract corporate loopholes - long-term implications are already upon us. Spotts's high production values create a thought-provoking, informative, interesting, and worthwhile documentary.
Greg Spotts, several US Senators, unemployed workers
NAFTA, CAFTA, outsourcing, decline of economy
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