Sen. Clinton and her Mighty Job Creation Machine … sort of

Advice for Sen. Hillary Clinton: Don’t make promises you can’t (won’t? forgot to?) keep.

Sen. Clinton, who now doubles as a presidential candidate, showed up four years ago in Buffalo, N.Y., in my back yard bringing with her a company that promised it might create up to 100 news jobs.

New York state has “lost 26,344 manufacturing jobs and 810 manufacturers since August of last year.” Western New York has been hit particularly hard, losing 3,000 manufacturing jobs — the good-paying kind — in the past year.

So anyone who promises to create jobs in and around Buffalo is literally promising to throw life preservers to men and women drowning in a job-loss nightmare.

So as a candidate for re-election to the Senate and in midst-dance about whether she’d run for president, Sen. Clinton brought to town Tata Consultancy Services and its promises of job creation.

A reporter for the Buffalo News called the local office of Tata recently and just asked, so, how my workers you got? “Ten.” Yep. Just 10. (Here’s a tip to politicians. Don’t give precise numbers. They can be checked.) And the PR hit gets worse …

According to the News, Tata, an Indian company, is one of the world’s largest outsourcing consultants. So not only is Tata not bringing in the promised 100 jobs, it’s shipping other jobs out of the country. The News quotes John Bauman, founder of the Organization for the Rights of American Workers:

She touted how she brought Tata to Buffalo – and in the meantime Tata is one of the biggest body shops in America, bringing cheap foreign labor to this country while exporting other jobs to India.

Consider this rolling text found on Tata’s home page:

To go far, first explore what is near.
Trust is built on a promise.
Insights into Certainty.
A torch well passed burns no one. [emphasis added]

Her critics are having a field day. Says Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology and author of “Outsourcing America”:

What she did was really pretty dumb from an economic development point of view. Tata destroys a lot more American jobs than it created [in] Buffalo.

The campaign’s response? Here’s Philippe Reines, Sen. Clinton’s spokesman:

Since her first day in the United States Senate, Sen. Clinton’s priority has been to support local businesses and entrepreneurs in order to spur job creation and economic growth throughout New York State, and this is just one of the literally hundreds of cases where she did so.

Sen. Clinton talks a good, if vague, game. Her campaign Web site says she’s all about “strengthening the middle class“:

In New York, Hillary championed tax incentives like wage credits for businesses and job creation in upstate New York and elsewhere. She also helped launch economic development initiatives to provide critical resources to small and micro businesses and helped launch a private sector venture called New Jobs for New York that makes venture capital available to New York’s innovators.

Perhaps more reporters at western New York’s newspapers ought to be calling to see what “critical resources” have been provided to “literally hundreds of cases” of “small and micro businesses” like Tata Consultancy Services. Those reporters should check what jobs — at what levels of pay — have actually been created in western New York.

At the very least, Sen. Clinton’s campaign ought to pay more attention to detail. Remember, it didn’t check on shady fundraiser Norman Hsu, either.

12 replies »

  1. Denny,

    My sister (an RIT graduate and current upstate NY resident) is fiercely opposed to Hillary for precisely this reason–that she’s failed utterly as a NY Senator to provide for the people she represents.

    Unlike a lot of conservatives who whine incessantly about pork, I have no problem with representatives who bring the money to their state–that’s their job. Outside New York City, and maybe the larger metropolitan areas (Albany, Rochester, Buffalo), the state’s employment base is a wasteland. Clinton has done nothing for the state but use it as a jumping-off point for her presidential ambitions. It was carpetbagging in a way that would make everyone from the Kennedys to the Bushes proud.

    It’s one of the many reasons why I’m extremely hesitant about a Clinton II presidency. Thanks for posting this.

  2. I am reminded of a smoother, more polisher version of George W Bush (or George W Hoover is you like) when I think of Hillary.

    Between Pelosi, Reid, Clinton, and the Bush Dog Democrats, they’ll have to convince me to vote in 2008.

    On the flip side, the good news (sort of) is that wages in India and China have risen to the point that they’re now sending work to Mexico. And China’s been spreading money around Africa seeding that future field for cheap labor.

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take another look at a second American Revolution. I’ll supply the tea.

  3. As penance for my mangled typing above, here’s an interesting article I ran across awhile back.

    * * * * * * *
    The Gospel of Work vs. the Gospel of Wealth
    by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

    It was a company town.

    A company region, actually.

    The Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.

    The Remington boys had started a gun company.

    And they had come to dominate the region.

    There was even company scrip.

    Scrip you could use like money to buy food, and clothes.

    Get a haircut.

    Even donate to the local church.

    And when you went to church, Mr. Remington was there.

    So, if you had a complaint, you could tap him on the shoulder.

    And talk about it.

    People were generally happy.

    Then the gun trust came to town.

    And sabotaged the whole deal.

    And down it went.

    That’s the story line of Worked Over: The Corporate Sabotage of An American Community by Dimitra Doukas (Cornell University Press).

    Doukas, who is now a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, says that in the late 1800s, corporations, once they took control of production, tried to change the culture of the United States.

    From the gospel of work to what Andrew Carnegie called the gospel of wealth.

    “If we look at the United States in the 19th century, we see a popular culture that was, in a word, anti-capitalist,” Doukas said. “And this was reflected very much in the political scene of the time. You had to be in favor of the working man. You had to support and praise the common man. The basic idea is that work is what dignifies a person. It is an anti-aristocratic ideology. It goes way back, really. Aristocrats were characterized as parasites, as people who lived off the work of others. Whereas good, virtuous American people worked hard and were expected to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

    So, for example, Abraham Lincoln, in his first annual message to Congress in 1861, makes his statement about capital and labor: “Capital is only the fruit of labor. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.”

    But when the corporations came in and took over, the major message was — no, it’s capital, not labor, that produces the wealth of society — it’s capital that deserves the greater consideration.”

    And this is what Doukas means by “the sabotage of an American community.”

    “Sabotage in the sense of undermining or continually poking at it, first with very little sophistication, poking at the basic value set of the society,” she says. “And the reason they poked at it is because the corporate value system could not co-exist with the American value system.”

    On the whole, working for the Remingtons was a positive thing. There were no strikes. The Knights of Labor were influential at the time. And people look back with fond memories of the time.

    “To work for the Remingtons was not to have a job in our sense,” Doukas told us. “The people worked as contractors. They sold what they made to the company. They were organized into departments under a senior highly skilled craftsperson or artisan. Each of these persons could conceive themselves as working independently.”

    Working people took offense at being wage slaves — what most of us are now. They had a sense of independence from the man. And the man was right there in the community. You ran into the man — on the street. You could talk with the man.

    Now, the man sits atop a giant corporation, unreachable, unknowable.

    “A whole way of life was organized around working for the Remingtons,” Doukas says. “People looked at it as being wholesome — American, virtuous, dignified — and still today they look back at that period. Even today, there is a tremendous sense of history among local working people. They are tremendously critical of the present day situation.”

    So, there was economic democracy under the Remington family?

    “In this very particular sense — back then, you had local ownership,” Doukas said.” The biggest boss sits in a pew next to you in church and was there to be buttonholed after church. There was direct access. You can think of it as economic democracy, maybe, in the broadest sense. But locally, it is more like a ranked system where skilled workers saw themselves in some sense as ranking lower than the Remingtons. And yet the high ranking person was accessible to them. At the same time, there was a sense of the tremendous dignity of being a working person and creating the wealth of the country. And this is how people spoke of it for better than a century. So, it is democratic in the basic sense that if you had a grievance, you could get some sort of action on it, and fairly directly. You had a voice — ground to stand on.”

    Anyone who is from upstate New York knows that it’s one of the most beautiful regions of this country.

    And for years it has been battered by big corporations that don’t give a damn about the region.

    Doukas says there was a time when the man cared.

    Hard to believe.

    But it’s worth taking a peek at her book and making your own judgment.

    Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).

  4. DomPierre,

    I heard about this as well–imagine the irony of U.S. companies bringing jobs back because it’s gotten too expensive to outsource, and Americans will work for less than their Indian and Chinese counterparts. 🙂

  5. Just out in today’s New York Times:
    “Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has consolidated her early lead in the Democratic presidential contest, showing steady strength as the candidates head toward the first voting early next year.

    “She has maintained solid leads in most national polls. And while polls in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire are of limited value in predicting the outcome, they too show her more than holding her own entering the period in which primary voters begin to make up their minds.”

    More than ever Obama and Edwards need to think about joining forces.

  6. Russ,

    Thanks for your comment(s).

    I’ve never bought into the argument that two presidential candidates could join forces to overcome a candidate perceived to have a better chance of gaining his or her party’s nomination.

    Remember the notion that Ford and Reagan would act as “co-presidents” although Ford, if he took the deal, would run for vice president? The egos are too large for an Obama-Edwards ticket, as you suggested elsewhere.

    Also, voters understand that (with the exception of Dick Cheney) the vice presidency is a no-man’s land. The VP candidate is nominally selected to help with regional vote gains. Voters, methinks, frankly ignore the veep candidate in voting for president.

    If Obama and Edwards hooked up, I think the act would weaken whichever took the presidential nod.

    If either wants to be Clinton, he’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way — better ideas, better “presence,” better staff and better get-out-the-vote efforts.

  7. LOL Dr Denny, thanks for the correction, there I was wondering why either of those fine gentlemen would want to be her. Thanks for the post, I like learning this kind of stuff about candidates. And Dom thanks for that other article about the Remingtons. Sounds like that was better than coal company or cotton plantation stores.

    And I am sooooooo ready for a 2nd revolution. Can we get rid of corporate personhood? Have a corporate death pnealty? And take money out of politics?

    Dr Denny, when I was young, we lived in Buffalo whilst my father was getting his PhD from SUNY-B. 🙂 Let’s say it was sooooo long ago that OJ was still a hero to many. But I still have many fond memories of the time we spent there. And I still make kimmewicke.

    So howdy, ex neighbor 🙂

  8. Thank you, Dee. Welcome to the land of Scrogues. Glad to have along for the ride. Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

  9. Too strange.

    Outsourcing Works So Well, India Is Exporting Jobs

    ” For instance, when Jeff Rand, a 23-year-old American trainee, told his grandmother he was moving to India to work as a software engineer for six months, “she said, ‘Maybe I’ll get to talk to you when I have a problem with my credit card.’ ”

    Said Mr. Rand with a rueful chuckle, “It took me about two or three weeks to explain to my grandma that I was not going to be working in a call center.””

  10. Denny,

    Thank you so much for this piece.

    Many times I get the ol’ “you’re a traitor to your gender” nonsense when I state that I dislike her.

    No, it’s because I don’t like what she hasn’t done 🙂 Sorry for the double negative.

    I like Rep. Louise Slaughter. I like Monroe County Exec. Maggie Brooks (and she’s even a Republican :).

    Dom: That writing brought tears to my eyes. I recently went through Amsterdam, NY. This city is a shell – once beautiful Victorian era brick and wood buildings – are now crumbling, windows blown out…surrounded by the beautiful mountains of Upstate NY. This city was one of many that suffered when the textile industry went overseas. It happened long before Clinton, but it’s an example of what gets left behind to save a few bucks short -term.

    Rochester NY is slowly rejuvenating but it is not easy.
    You can still make a living up here. It requires a lot of ingenuity, creativity, and acceptance that the era of Remingtons (or Kodaks, Valeos, Kelloggs & Miller…) is over, at least until it’s too expensive to outsource. Martin, I like that idea!