Maintaining Faith in America

With jobs being transferred overseas and business burdened with new financial challenges, more and more employees are struggling to survive.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a great understanding of the global economy, but there’s a disturbing trend of outsourcing jobs overseas, while at the same time hamstringing American business with higher costs, ranging from increased taxes to healthcare. I’ll quickly jump to the forefront and state—strongly—that these decisions are not working well and America is heading down a very slippery slope seemingly greased by people that do not have this country’s or the American workers’ best interests at heart.

The excessive burden on all businesses—especially smaller companies—that operate legally and have a love of this country is raging out of control. While I’ve long questioned the wisdom surrounding the systematic elimination of hundreds of thousands of American jobs and sending them to foreign countries, whether to nearby Mexico or across the ocean, here is what sets me off:  How on earth does it make long term sense to buy billions and billions of dollars of goods from China, then turn around and borrow our own money back, allowing China and others to literally buy America?

Competing for Dollars
The auto industry proved to us that competition is essential and makes for a better product. Most of us remember when you’d be well advised to trade in an American auto when the odometer approached 50,000 miles. Asian competition forced U.S. manufacturers to get better, and American corporations and American workers rose to the challenge.

What I’m talking about is that much-bandied, yet seemingly mythical, phrase called “a level playing field.” In this case the term “unfair competition” fits much better. How can we be allowed, let alone begin to justify, buying items manufactured by people forced to work in sub par conditions that would not possibly be allowed in the U.S.?

American manufacturers must comply with costly OSHA, EPD and a myriad of other state and federal rules and regulations that add heavily to the cost of each item sold. Most of us are guilty of taking advantage of a cheaper price for the newest electronic gadgets and who could blame us?

Let me pose a few more questions: Long range, how many Americans will be able to afford even the least expensive of items without more quality jobs in America? How will America be able to maintain the current standard of living that has been reduced and devalued with the debt load we’re carrying?  We have been the caretaker for the world since WWII. We must learn and practice that charity begins at home since no other country is willing to return past favors.

Industry Burden
This leads me to the convenience store and petroleum industry, which, in so many ways, is a crutch for American workers ranging from day laborers to high-ranking executives.

Convenience store owners can be proud of the track record the industry has created by providing more and more jobs with solid career paths, all while proving to be a solid backbone for America. We must continue to work to encourage a system that ensures the long-term stability of an America that the world needs. The current system is shakier and less secure than at any time in the last 50 years and it’s this generation’s time to rise to the occasion.

The industry has achieved a great record of success and has had to fight continuously to improve in the face of adversity. But this is a different type of battle, and while you may not feel it’s the industry’s to fight alone, ask yourself, “can I afford to have a large percentage of my customers unable to buy my goods?” This is not a time for standing on the sideline; this is a call that must be answered.

Jim Callahan has more than 40 years experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on CSDecisions.com. He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at jfcallahan502@msn.com.

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