The Martin Tower Implosion.
A reflection in corporate change and political power. The Martin Tower Implosion.
The implosion of the Martin towers, former headquarters in Bethlehem PA brought out historical musing, the corporate greed, the lack of protection for employees and reflection in a region that had been rife with being used and tossed aside by corporations.
Bethlehem Steel and its prior tie in, Anthracite mining in North east Pennsylvania, suffered from both greed and a non leveled playing field.
The Steel industry was rocked by companies direct undermining the union label or made in U.S.A., Profit over people or National interests. U.S. Steel became more expensive, even though it did not have to be transported oversea or over border by simple unfair labor tactics.
Unions job was to push a better wage and retirement that was the standard for most large corporations, but unions were undermined with international trade. US barriers were in effects such as quotas, trigger prices regulations, and locality preference in government procurement (Rogers, 2009).
Some say… it was not unfair, it’s cheaper in China. Wal-Mart is an example of Americans tossing out local business for a cheaper product; the Americans eroded the local economy themselves. We have to consider, built into the US product cost was not only a retirement and pension system, but the company had to pay unemployment, its part to Social Security and Workman’s compensation.
Workman’s Comp is state regulated so states that offer lower costs were rewarded by more employment. In PA the employer spends $1.51 for every $100 the employee is paid.
Bethlehem Steel as an example had total employment of 300,000. Earning an average of $11.23 an hour, or $449 a week. This was $134,700,000.00 a week or 1,347,000 units or an added cost of $2,033,970 a week alone Just for Workman’s comp. Add to this an average matching of 6.2% for Medicare/Social Security ($8,351,400 a week). Other countries that did not provide workman’s comp and Retirement by a mandated equivalent to Social Security and Medicare saved 10,385,370 a week or 540,039,240 a year based on 1990 figures. Since other countries did not have this burden or requirement it allowed a non compensated cost discount from international sources of 540 million a year. (this is not even considering cheap labor and lack of required protections)
The Steel industry had political power by employment of workers who were loyal to unions and supported union candidates. This was balance of government protecting and supporting corporate interests that in turn had unions who helped in controlled votes.
This dynamic changed as international trade, diversification and profit became the main avenue for corporations. The Reagan Era started strong union busting by rolling back union employee protections. It evolved into corporations who diversified into multiple entities, allowing or structuring collapse and write off of both debts and in another sad allowance, the outright theft of employment pensions and benefits.
Buy the union label was substituted by everyday low prices. Employee votes were transferred to corporate donations and lobbying exchanged money for votes and money to buy votes.
This allowed corporations to increase profits on international scale, remove tax and employee burdens and the politicians to remove the employee from vote power.
The collapse in Bethlehem Steel and the Martin Tower implosion is a microcosm of the collapse of US progressive infrastructure spending. The lack of Building of Bridges and roads, manufacturing, the outsourcing of the auto industry and the import of cheap steel
Like the planned implosion, the government and corporate greed have converted the ideal of “A better life for all” to a planned profit for a few.