Blue Collar Dollar Institute Mission Statement
The Blue Collar Dollar Institute believes that the United States cannot offer a middle-class lifestyle to a large majority of Americans without possessing a strong and vibrant manufacturing sector. Our non-partisan mission is to research data, inform the public, and advocate for policy in order to help strengthen US manufacturing and goods-producing sectors.
Strong manufacturing, construction, and mining sectors help middle-class households to have a prosperous life in the following ways:
- By creating high-paying jobs for individuals without a college education.
- By selling more products overseas than we buy overseas, bringing net funds into the country.
- By making our nation less dependent on foreign countries for critical goods in times of crisis such as pandemics and wars, thus reducing risk for the average American.
Who I Am
My name is Charles Shor and I am an American businessman and philanthropist from Cincinnati, Ohio. I served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the world’s largest paper bag manufacturing company, Duro Bag Manufacturing from 1987 to 2014 before selling it to South Carolina-based Hilex Poly Co. LLC
I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, so it is not with any political agenda that I tell you the standard of living of the average American has been declining since at least the 1970s and will continue to do so unless we as Americans begin voting with our pocketbooks.
I come from the perspective of a business owner who built the largest paper bag manufacturing company in the world, which employed over 2,500 people in North America and competed against countries whose strategy is to take middle-class jobs from the United States and import them into their own countries. What I learned in 40 years of running my business is our politicians do not allow U.S. companies to compete on a level economic playing field with other countries and preserve manufacturing jobs, which we will need to do if we plan to regrow the middle class.
This story is as true today as it was then. Today, China is by far the world’s largest producer of paper, steel and aluminum, even though unbeknownst to many in the United States, their input costs are much higher than ours. Energy, timber and other raw materials are the prime ingredients for these products, and labor represents only a fraction of the cost of production.
So how can they dominate these markets to such an extent? I believe the main reason relates to the Chinese government directly owning 25 percent of the economy. This allows them to make strategic, long-term investments focused on export industries that produce higher-paying industrial jobs. Combine this with limitations on foreign capital and lax environmental and labor standards, and it is difficult to see how American companies can compete.
Our manufacturing trade imbalances do not stop with China. Since the introduction of NAFTA the total U.S. trade deficit in manufacturing is $13.4 trillion. To put this into perspective, each $1 trillion in deficit is equal to about 32.5 million jobs in a given year at a cost to manufacturers of $71,000 per job.
After NAFTA was passed, our trade deficit of manufactured products jumped from an average of $144 billion to $608 billion, or an increase of 323 percent. Manufacturing jobs were 55 percent more available than they are today and the wages from the remaining jobs have risen 0.6 percent for all non-supervisory employees.
This quiet trade war, given tacit approval by our politicians, has resulted in both a wage and wealth disparity that has reverberated across America. For instance, since 1973, the earnings of the highest 5 percent of compensated people in the U.S. grew by 60 percent; the median income population grew its wages by 20 percent; and the bottom 20 percent has seen no increase in wages. Furthermore, in the 1970s, the top 1 percent of the population earned 9 percent of all income, while today the top 1 percent earns 23 percent of the income.
The good news is we can reverse the tide. It is not too late. But it begins with rebuilding American manufacturing, reclaiming our lost middle class and revitalizing our inner cities.
Almost every American city has an industrial zone or property abandoned due to the loss of manufacturing to foreign countries. We can help cities create incentives that allow companies 100 percent depreciation on buildings and equipment if they bring industrial jobs into their towns. We can also provide allowances to individuals who have not been employed for at least two years in order to take advantage of our idle labor force. Finally, we can apply a tariff for certain products that could be competitively produced in the United States if free and fair markets were permitted. These measures would help U.S. companies compete with both private and state-owned foreign competitors, allowing our economy to grow more rapidly and recover the high paying jobs we have been losing in manufacturing.
This country cannot and should not be built on winners and losers. Everyone needs to be a winner.