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Joe Guzzardi The hoax of overseas jobs

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Joe Guzzardi

Posted: Saturday, August 20, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 10:39 am, Sat Aug 20, 2011.

The claim first made more than 10 years ago and repeated by Republican and Democratic administrations that corporate offshoring would increase domestic employment turned out to be one of the most painful hoaxes ever perpetrated on American workers

Matthew Slaughter, a Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business professor and an economic adviser to George W. Bush, touted the universally accepted globalism mantra that, " ... for every one job that U.S. multinationals created abroad ... they created nearly two U.S. jobs in their (U.S.-based) parents." Today, Slaughter admits his error. In the meantime unemployed, indebted and foreclosed Americans pay the price for the federal government's folly.

Despite President Obama's ongoing rhetoric to the contrary, few well-paying jobs will be created near term. U. S. corporations find it more lucrative to do business overseas.

Here's the evidence: According to a report issued July 27 by Moody's Investor Services, U.S. non-financial corporate cash holdings rose to $1.24 trillion at the end of 2010, with nearly half of the total on deposit abroad. Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Google Inc. held the largest amounts of cash. The huge sums reflect the growing strength of major corporations' international operations.

Based on a Moody's internal survey, the agency concluded: "We believe companies will keep this cash outside the U.S. as they pursue international acquisitions, invest in their own overseas operations or await tax breaks on overseas earnings they bring back to the U.S."

Instead of broad-based hiring, major corporations hoard cash, slash domestic payroll and add to their overseas staff. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, during the 2000s these companies cut their U.S. work forces by 2.9 million while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million. Compare that to the 1990s when large corporations added 4.4 million domestic jobs versus 2.7 million abroad.

Compounding the unemployment problem is that GE, Wal-Mart, Cisco, Oracle and dozens of others pay little, if any, federal income tax. Consider the software giant Microsoft, which just released its fiscal fourth quarter statement that reflected record sales of nearly $17.4 billion, a 30-percent increase in after-tax profit and a 35-percent gain in earnings per share. On a $6.3 billion profit, Microsoft paid only 7 percent in taxes, or a meager $445 million. Microsoft's foreign earnings make up 68 percent of its overall income.

According to Microsoft's IRS filings, over the past six years the company's pre-tax profits booked overseas nearly tripled to $19.2 billion in the fiscal year just ended, from $6.8 billion in the year ended June 2006. During the same four-year period, its U.S. earnings have dropped to $8.9 billion from $11.4 billion. High on the list of reasons for Microsoft's shrinking tax bill is that it channels global sales earnings through the low-tax havens of Ireland, Puerto Rico and Singapore.

To end offshoring and thereby restore American job opportunities, strong federal intervention is required — something light-years away given the insidious link between Silicon Valley campaign donations and Capitol Hill. A September 2010 effort failed when Senate Republicans blocked the Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act that included two amendments that would ensure that Americans are first in line for any domestic jobs. Currently, no similar legislation is pending.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pa. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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