The Achilles' heel of the job crisis, totally ignored by both John Kerry and George W. Bush, is the snowballing U.S. trade deficit, which hit a record $489.4 billion in 2003 ("Where are the jobs?" Cover Story, Mar. 22). Every developed country in the world is cutting costs by outsourcing jobs abroad. The difference is that the European Union, China, Japan, Korea, Canada, Taiwan, and even Russia have trade surpluses, not trade deficits.
The Revenue Act of 1962 made the U.S. the only country -- then and still today -- that taxes its citizens living and working abroad. I gave up my business selling U.S. products in Brazil, and the market I opened there was lost forever. I could not survive paying, in my case, 61.7% more taxes than anyone else in Brazil. The problem is not that U.S. products are not competitive but that our overseas sales force has been decimated. Double taxation has made Americans unemployable overseas, so they came home and were replaced by non-Americans selling non-American products.
Palmetto Bay, Fla.
If we as a nation borrow huge sums of money from foreign nations to finance our consumption from abroad, wouldn't we expect to "export" jobs -- and devalue our dollar later on? Perhaps a solution to our job-growth problem is to prevent U.S. representatives from financing their deficits with foreign money. According to another article in the same issue, foreigners hold 25% of U.S. Treasury securities ("Productivity: Who wins, who loses," Special Report, Mar. 22). Otherwise Americans will be indentured workers to the rest of the world as we pay off our "cheap" foreign loans with seriously weakened dollars.
One of the biggest causes of slow job creation, and one that is continually not addressed, is that corporate dollars are being siphoned from workers' wages with ever-increasing disparity to pay for exorbitant upper management compensation packages.
I suggest the following thought experiment: Suppose our innovative programmers were to come up with a "black box" capable of accepting rudimentary program instructions and spitting out detailed programs ready for computer use at reduced cost and with a substantial improvement in programming productivity. Would we use it? Probably yes, because the improved productivity would be perceived as a long-term benefit to us all, even though some jobs would be initially displaced.
Now suppose that one day, after long and successful use, somebody opened the black box and found that it was really a telecommunications link with a group of programmers in India who were actually producing the low-cost work of the black box. Would we stop using it?
Palm Desert, Calif.
Terrorism may be an issue in the next election, but the candidate who has a plan for creating new jobs will be the one who gets my vote.
Canoga Park, Calif. I am concerned about the statement in "Art, science, crapshoot" (Legal Affairs, Mar. 29) that one of the persons I have defended is former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. I did represent Mr. Bowles while he was chief of staff. But I did not defend him because he was not under investigation and thus required no defense.
Earl J. Silbert
Washington Your article, "Servers: More bells and whistles, please" (Information Technology, Mar. 22) has caused significant concern at our university because it suggests that our relationship with Dell Inc. (DELL) has been less than successful. Our ongoing relationship with Dell has been productive and positive. Procuring the best technology for the best value is a fundamental factor in choosing our business partners, and that is the reason we intend to continue our relationship with Dell.
Robert J. Genco, Interim Provost
State University of New York
Buffalo A point not covered by Gary Weiss in "Walled off from justice?" (Finance, Mar. 22) is that many customer-vs.-brokerage cases are settled before the hearing date. This suggests to me that customer grievances were satisfied in far less time and expense to the customer than suing in court. Additionally, the NASD always suggests mediation as another alternative to arbitration to all the participants.
Marc S. Piven
Editor's note: The writer is an NASD industry arbitrator.
Your article on arbitration profiles an investor who had a claim based upon unauthorized trading in his account. We advise investors to be vigilant in inspecting trade confirmations and statements from brokerages. If a transaction appears in a customer account that was not authorized, the customer should immediately object and -- this cannot be stressed enough -- the objection should be in writing. Virtually all confirmations and monthly statements are binding absent written objection. Telephonic objections leave no paper trail.
Stephen P. Harbeck
Securities Investor Protection Corp.