Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address – Should Steve Jobs Been a Talking Point?

President Barack Obama - State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama - State of the Union Address

So I listened to the State of the Union address last night, which was pretty uneventful. There were many themes that were brought to issue. One of them is not losing jobs to overseas workers and not giving tax breaks to those who do. Yet, President Barack Obama singled out one entrepreneur for his integrity in Steve Jobs. While that was a “Feel good” moment, we have to reflect that your Apple product is not really made in the USA. Do we have a conundrum here?

During President Barack Obama’s speech last night, he said:

You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.

It’s a pretty inspiring line. It makes me feel that I am going to be taken seriously and I might just get help for starting my job. However, Obama also said this:

We should start with our tax code.  Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.  Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  It makes no sense, and everyone knows it.  So let’s change it.

First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.  That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.

But wait a minute. Apple doesn’t make their products here. They have a plant in China that works people to the point where they continually have negative news coming back to the US. Most recently – a group of 300 announcing they would commit suicide over wages, and a chairman that calls their workers “Animals”.

Steve Jobs said it himself to President Obama. He takes jobs overseas because there are no skilled workers. Further, in the Steve Jobs book, he tells Obama that he might be a one-term president if the business owners needs are not met and they continue to take jobs outside the US.

Skilled Labor, or Slave Labor?

I remember one Apple exec stating that China can get 3,000 workers overnight. They would stay in dorm rooms and work feverishly for the low-wage.

In fact, is “Skilled labor” the real reason why jobs are ported overseas? It’s not the fact that you can get a worker for a fraction of the price overseas than in the US?

We have heard many stories from the Foxconn plant. Scandals about the workers and reports over working conditions. For $17 a day, you can work over 12 hours and get a nice cot in a dormitory…

Americans did live like that – back in the 1900’s. When Hoover Dam was constructed, people lived in communes. They had their own currency for rations, and they worked long hours for little pay. They had 112 fatalities, but more deaths to pneumonia which were unaccounted for due to the fact it wasn’t work related.

What Should Have Obama Said About Jobs?

I am not a politician, so I am not sure what would have been said better. Maybe something to effect of those aspiring to be Steve Jobs that are confident the US has the talent right now to do the job. Not that we are a bunch of un-educated misfits that need to stay in school.

After all, Steve Jobs dropped out of school. Bill Gates did, too. How many different entrepreneurs dropped out, started a company and were successful?

In the grand scheme of things, keeping jobs in the US is an important fact. However, to do it, will we have to accept 12 hour days at $17 an hour? Will we have to pay higher taxes to keep our jobs?

All good questions that really didn’t get answers to. And while tens-of-thousands visit the Hoover Dam every year, do we want to live like those who built it?

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