What Powers our National Economy?

(Some of the facts and figures presented in this commentary were gathered in 2012 and 2011. They are still pertinent today.)

Here is an interesting statistic that was in the news. The much-vaunted Facebook internet site, which employs only about 3,000 people, was reported to be worth as much as $100 billion.

The same news report said in comparison that United Parcel Service, the ‘brown’ package delivery company called UPS, is worth $75 billion but employs almost 400,000 people worldwide.

Here are some statistics about UPS:

2010 Revenue: $49.6 billion

2010 Net Revenue: $8.7 billion

Employees: 398,300 Worldwide (324,000 US; 74,300 International)

2010 Delivery Volume: 3.94 billion packages and documents.

Daily delivery volume: 15.6 million packages and documents

Daily US air volume: 2.2 million packages and documents

Daily international volume: 2.3 million packages and documents

Service area: More than 220 countries and territories; every address in North America and Europe.

Customers: 8.5 million daily (1.1 million pick-up, 7.4 million delivery)

Delivery fleet: 93,736 package cars, vans, tractors, motorcycles, including 2,596 alternative fuel vehicles

Daily flight segments: Domestic – 942; International – 815 (end of UPS excerpt)

Big deal, you may say. UPS is a successful firm. So what?

Here’s what. Our national and global economic crisis is a result of the fact that the economies in many industrial nations are being increasingly dominated by “soft” firms like wealthy media companies like Facebook that employ few people. Facebook’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) indeed did make some people very rich, but it was a very small group.

Yet most people in the world today survive and thrive not by making a big hit on the stock of a media company like Facebook but by having steady and long-term employment working for a successful firm like UPS. Or they get their goods or their company’s goods delivered efficiently by UPS or by one of America’s big freight railroads like CSX or Union Pacific.

UPS, CSX and Union Pacific are part of our “hard” economic infrastructure of manufacturing and transportation.

Meanwhile Facebook is a social networking site on the internet. And two students at Harvard, the Winklevoss twins, charged that the founder of Facebook stole the idea from them.

This, friends, is the difference between low-productivity media socialism and productive industrial capitalism like mining, transportation and manufacturing. It is all in the numbers.

Consider Cornelius Vanderbilt who built the New York Central Railroad connecting New York City to Chicago. Academic liberals and Democrats have persistently painted Vanderbilt and people like him as evil ‘robber barons’.

Yet Vanderbilt’s railroad was instrumental in building 19th century and 20th century America and providing reliable transportation for many millions of people and many billions of tons of goods and, at the same time, employing hundreds of thousands of workers over its century in existence.

Meanwhile Facebook employs 3,000 people. And if Facebook disappeared tomorrow nothing would change. It is just an internet site.

But if a major railroad suddenly disappeared our nation would be badly hurt. Then it would take many years to build it back up, particularly with all the enviro obstruction today.

You know, enviro obstruction coming from the socialist left and funded by rich media barons like the founder of Facebook and his friends in the radical ecology movement and the Obama administration.

Meanwhile a new Facebook-type site could be built in two days from an apartment in New Jersey. 

Think about former Democrat US president Bill Clinton. Over the last 12 years he has amassed more than $75 million for himself just giving speeches at up to $500,000 each. Meanwhile over the same period Clinton’s vice president Al Gore has accumulated a $200 million fortune ranting about the hoax of ‘global warming’.

Yet neither Gore nor Clinton are employing hundreds or thousands of people or providing a crucial product or service like UPS or the New York Central Railroad. They are just big blowhards who are totally out for themselves, i.e., typical Democrats. In fact Gore’s extremist environmentalism is destroying jobs for millions of Americans.

Meanwhile 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney helped to found firms like Staples and Steel Dynamics through his investment capital firm. All tallied the firms he helped to finance now employ 130,000 people. Yet the Democrats trashed him to the heavens… as those same Democrats produce little or nothing except for themselves and their friends.

If Steel Dynamics closed up shop 6,000 jobs would be lost and American steel production would suffer with jobs going overseas. If UPS disappeared tomorrow there would be a major disruption in the delivery of goods throughout the nation and a blow to our national economy. If CSX Transportation, the freight railroad which now owns the former New York Central, shut down it would be a major hit to the US.

Here are some facts from CSX.com:

Over a 21,000-route-mile rail network, CSX serves:

*23 states, Washington D.C. and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

*Every major population center east of the Mississippi River, including New York, Philadelphia and Boston in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic; the Southeast markets of Atlanta, Miami and New Orleans; and the Midwestern cities of St. Louis, Memphis and Chicago.

*70 ocean, river and lake ports along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

*Thousands of production and distribution facilities through track connections to more than 230 short line and regional railroads.

CSX’s network is positioned to reach more than two-thirds of Americans, who account for about three-quarters of the nation’s consumption of goods.

We transport a broad portfolio of products, ranging from coal and new energy sources, such as biodiesel and ethanol, to automobiles, chemicals, military equipment and consumer products.

CSX Transportation:

*Operates an average of 1,200 trains per day.

*Transports an average of 20,000 carloads per day.

*Transports 3.9 million carloads of products and raw materials a year.

*Maintains a fleet of more than 4,000 locomotives.

*Maintains a fleet of more than 80,000 freight cars. (end of csx.com excerpt)

In short CSX is a major player in our national industrial infrastructure helping to move coal, steel, chemicals, consumer goods, grain, food products, cars, ag products, oil, car parts etc.

And what does Facebook do?

It is a social networking site on the internet. Big deal.

Now think about another transportation firm, FedEx. Fred Smith, who founded FedEx, the overnight package/freight air delivery service, came from a wealthy family in Mississippi. But rather than live off of his inheritance like the Kennedys do he risked his inheritance to build FedEx, which is an integral part of the world economy today.

In short, Smith was a daring pioneer in global trade.

When he was in college at Yale in the 1960s Smith wrote a proposal for a FedEx-type company for a business class. The professor gave him a poor grade and told him it was a stupid idea.

These are the same overpaid, underworked, know-nothing Yale professors who call Cornelius Vanderbilt a ‘robber baron’, who employ nobody, who vote for Obama and Bill Clinton, who whine that Fred Smith now is too rich, and who call Facebook a major success because it was created by an intellectual midget who thinks like they do.

Here are some facts about FedEx:

More than 290,000 team members (employees) worldwide

Average Daily Volume: More than 8.5 million shipments for express, ground, freight and expedited delivery services

Service Area: More than 220 countries and territories, including every address in the United States

fedex.com: Over 32 million unique visitors monthly; more than 6.5 million package tracking requests daily and 20 million labels generated via FedEx Ship Manager monthly

Operating Facilities

*Express: 1,057 stations; 10 air express hubs

*Ground: 32 ground hubs; over 500 pickup/delivery terminals

*Freight: Approximately 355 service centers

*Office: Nearly 2,000 locations

Air Operations: 692 aircraft; more than 375 airports served worldwide

Ground Fleet:  More than 90,000 motorized vehicles for express, ground, freight and expedited delivery service

Dropoff Locations

*688 FedEx World Service Centers

*1,797 FedEx Office locations

*6,648 FedEx Authorized ShipCenters® and Alliance Partners

*42,573 FedEx Drop Boxes (including 4,991 U.S. Postal Service locations)

Recent Awards

*FORTUNE magazine: No. 8 among "World's Most Admired Companies" (2011)

*Wal-Mart: "Small Parcel Carrier of the Year" (2011)

*FORTUNE magazine: “100 Best Places to Work For” (2010) (end of FedEx excerpt)

Look at that statistic: 290,000 workers worldwide at FedEx versus 3,000 at Facebook. And rest assured that Facebook could easily disappear soon. In fact such internet sites have notoriously short lives. Word is that Facebook already has peaked and that people are quitting it in droves. Facebook could fade away as another site overtakes it. Remember when AOL and CompuServ were the biggest things on the internet?

So do you see where our real prosperity comes from? It comes from creating products through manufacturing, like making steel at Steel Dynamics, and then moving resources and products around the nation and the world via CSX or FedEx, not sitting at a stupid internet site telling people what you had for lunch like you do on Facebook.

Indeed the Facebook founder is a good ultra-liberal friend of Barack Obama under whose presidency our national economy is withering on the vine. And it is easy to understand why this is happening.

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