Originally Published: March 14, 2002 6:11 p.m.
Thousands of steelworkers accompanied by steel company executives rallied in front of the White House recently protesting government trade policies. They pleaded for a long overdue 40 percent tariff on cheap, foreign steel imports.
America's steel industry was the world's greatest. It provided jobs and pensions for millions of Americans. Nothing was more dynamic than the roaring furnaces of Pittsburgh, Gary, Birmingham, Cleveland, Youngs-town, and a score of cities. They produced steel for the tools and skyscrapers of America, the world's greatest auto industry and the steel for the guns, shells, tanks and ships to defend freedom in WW I and II, Korea and Vietnam.
Too many mills in the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Valleys have closed down, with 31 companies in bankruptcy. Our steel industry competes with minimal labor prices in a score of countries because of our government policies. As with many products, America's longshoremen do not load steel on ships going to foreign countries, they unload government subsidized steel at depressed prices from countries that charge 20 to 40 percent tariffs on all U.S. exports.
In the 1950s, my customers were U.S. Steel and ALCOA aluminum. Like copper, the U.S. aluminum industry is in trouble because of cheap imports.
As a businessman in Arizona, my customers were Kennecott, Phelps Dodge and Cyprus Copper. There was the Snowflake paper mill, Stone Forest Industries, the agri-chemical and farm implement industries. These industries are either out of business or drastically depressed because of imports and government regulations.
Wake up, President Bush, members of the House and Senate! Your salaries, pensions and wealth are not in jeopardy! Basic U.S. industries, American workers and retired pensioners are in trouble. Politicians and bureaucrats do not retire on Social Security. They guaranteed their future with lucrative pension and benefit programs.
The enemy of protecting and invigorating basic U.S. industry is our political system. America's strength is not Wall Street and the insider elite in Washington, D.C., or multi-national corporation executives. America's strength is its people, its hourly production workers and its common sense in preserving what is necessary to keep America strong and vibrant.
If our president and elected servants in Washington really care about American workers, the pensions of millions, the military readiness and strength of our armed forces and the economic stability of our country, they will take a new direction in trade policies.
America cannot afford to lose its steel or any basic industry. We cannot be dependent on foreign nations for our survival. We can-not continue to buy more from foreign countries like China and Mexico than we sell to them. It is not America's responsibility to save governments or economies of other nations. No country helped the U.S. become the world's bastion of liberty and the greatest economic power in history. We the people alone did it! And we did so while sacrificing American lives fighting to free the world from oppression.
We the people must save our country from American internationalists who would destroy our sovereignty, strength, morals, patriotism and Godly heritage. God Save Our Republic!
(Thom Strawn was a political activist for 30 years, and is now a TV and radio talk show host in Prescott. E-mail him him at TBA1776@mindspring.com)