Almost more Galesburg community members than students attended Representative Phil Hare’s talk this past Wednesday.
“It’s always good to hear directly from the candidate,” local resident Faye Schulz said. “I learned something.”
In an event organized by the Alliance for Peaceful Action (APA), Hare, the congressional representative for the 17th district of Illinois, came to Knox to speak about free trade, jobs and labor but was willing to speak on any topic of interest to the audience.
“Any other questions you have, feel free to go ahead and ask,” he said. “If you ask a question, you may not like the answer, but you’ll know it’s truthful.”
Although speaking about international issues such as trade with China and labor conditions in Indonesia, Hare continually turned back to Galesburg. He frequently cited the 2004 closing of the Maytag plant, which employed 1600 local residents, as an example of unfair trade practices.
“Maytag was given $9 million dollars to renovate their plant,” Hare said. “They take the 9 million, they put it in their pocket, they leave for Mexico.”
Hare spent most of his talk emphasizing the importance of fair trade practices and finding ways to ensure that America still produces goods for consumption.
“Somehow we have developed this notion—we can’t make a TV in this country anymore, we can’t make American steel. But what are we supposed to do? Is it just going to be a service economy and nothing more?” he said.
Hare suggested that more resources be put into training programs available at two-year colleges for students who cannot afford or are not interested in earning a bachelor’s degree. Arguing that sustainable jobs are the way of the future, he pointed out that if workers are not trained for things such as ethanol production, the country would be unable to escape dependence on foreign oil.
“Why are we making solar panels in France and Germany and shipping them over here?” Hare said. “We have to start investing in Americans again.”
Hare also wanted to work on keeping corporations in America rather than outsourcing. When an audience member pointed out that it was nearly impossible for American companies to compete with the wages of overseas labor, Hare saw a solution.
“You can do things to let those companies know that the government will help them,” he said. “We have to shut down the tax breaks for companies who go overseas. They need to know it’s important for them to produce a quality product, and if they’re having a tough time, we can help them out.”
Pointing out that 85 percent of American ammunition is made overseas, Hare suggested too many imports could even be a national security threat.
“It’s outsourced,” he said. “We’re fighting two wars. How does this make any sense at all?”
Not everyone in the audience agreed with the ideas Hare was suggesting.
“We don’t need more government,” said one woman in the audience in reference to Hare’s desire to more closely regulate large corporations.