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Flanigan's Bullishness on '90s Difficult to See

April 21, 1991

James Flanigan's column "Job Front: As Windows Shut, Doors Open" (April 7) encourages the reader to "keep the faith" that the economy is indeed recovering, despite evidence to the contrary.

He quotes David Lewin, head of UCLA's Institute of Industrial Relations, who states: "The transformation that occurred in U.S. manufacturing in the 1980s . . . is going to happen to services in the '90s."

During that period, analysts were telling those workers that their salvation would be the expanding service economy. After a few years of working for minimum wage and gaining valuable experience at fast-food restaurants, I'm sure those workers will take comfort in this new analysis.

"To gauge the possibilities, imagination is more useful than calculation," Flanigan writes. "Note how computing is central to all new industry and think about getting or updating an education--a sure-fire growth field for the '90s."

I wonder how many people updated their education to prepare for a service-sector job? I suspect that many of those people did not imagine (or calculate) that the service sector would be "downsizing" during the '90s.

Americans received quite an education during the '80s from "business" people. The curriculum: insider trading, junk bonds, savings and loan fraud, defense fraud, health-care fraud and insurance fraud. The underlying theme of all these subjects was deregulation, the "business" community's panacea of the '80s.

The latest hoax being sold is the Pan American free-trade zone. During the '80s, a large number of U.S. manufacturing jobs were relocated to Mexico. Now the companies responsible for those moves would like to reduce the tariffs they are forced to pay as a consequence. Apparently the lower wages in Mexico have not increased their profits enough.

We should learn from our experience with Asian countries that protectionism is not always a bad policy. Sometimes it is necessary.

WILLIAM McGINLEY

Granada Hills

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