Columns » Hightower

All we export these days is our future




By gollies, America is still an exporting powerhouse. In fact, our corporate chieftains have made us number one in exporting America's most precious goods — our jobs, factories, technologies, and middle-class opportunities.

With unemployment and underemployment devastating millions of families in our country, perhaps you've assumed that U.S. corporations aren't hiring these days. Nonsense, they added 1.4 million jobs last year alone — overseas, that is.

For example, more than half of Caterpillar's new hires in 2010 were in foreign countries. Many more of this industry giant's jobs are headed offshore in the near future, for Caterpillar, which was once an iconic American brand, has recently invested in three new plants in China. It'll not only manufacture tractors and bulldozers there, but it will also begin to ship its design work and technology development jobs to China.

Likewise, DuPont, once proud of its U.S. workforce, has slashed its number of American employees in recent years, while increasing its Asia-Pacific workforce by more than half. Indeed, DuPont no longer considers itself American — "We are a global player," sniffs its chief innovation officer.

Such homemade brands as Coca-Cola, Dell, and IBM are also among the multitude of corporations abandoning our shores and our middle class. Of course, they still keep their well-appointed headquarters here so the corporation and top executives can continue enjoying all that America has to offer.

Calvin Coolidge once asserted that "What's good for business is good for America." That was myopic enough, but today's narcissistic CEOs are even more self-serving, declaring: "What's good for business is good for business, America be damned."

If we are to have a united society, America cannot tolerate such raw selfishness by the privileged few. We can have a plutocracy, or a democracy. But not both.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit

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