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Asean Affairs  12 November 2010

Economic challenges for the developed world

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     12 November 2010

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In the wake of the G-20 meeting in South Korea, an interesting story snared my attention.

Winchester, Virginia, is a pleasant town nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. In addition to its physical beauty, the town has only a 7.5 percent unemployment rate, about two points lower than the national average in the United States as a whole.

The Guardian (U.K.) reported in its November 11 issue that the stalwart American company, General Electric (GE), a multinational conglomerate that manufactures large-scale industrial products, produces consumer appliances, and provides financial services, is closing its electric light bulb plant in beautiful Winchester and moving it to China. The remainder of the company’s light bulb production will be moved to Monterey, Mexico.

GE announced this week in China US$ 2billion investment to boost innovation and set up joint ventures. The shutdown will cost the jobs of 200 workers. The Guardian reports that GE refused to equip the Winchester plant to make the new energy-efficient light bulbs. The Guardian reports that the America has lost 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 1979, dropping from nearly 20 million to 12 million.

The town’s redevelopment officer believes that the town can reinvent itself as a high-skill center and last month President Obama stated that 800,000 green jobs could be created in the United States by 2012. The unemployed workers in Virginia seem skeptical.

When jobs leave, purchasing power declines, the wealth of communities declines and social costs rise.

It is easy to lash out at politicians and the Chinese but in the same week, news stories reported that black boys had fallen even farther behind their white counterparts in academic achievement and all American students fall behind other countries in math and science.

Perhaps Americans need to reassess themselves, especially during this difficult economic time.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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