Issue Date: October 17, 2011
Outsourcing Of Jobs
Topics of recent ACS Comments typically show that chemists care about other chemists. They have listed ways that both ACS and members can help some of the unemployed (C&EN, Oct. 3, page 43, and Oct. 10, page 51). They take it for granted that the employment situation for chemists is the way it is, and that ACS can do nothing more than report accurately the thousands of Americans laid off, particularly in big pharma. C&EN has also reported on the millions of dollars spent to open new facilities overseas.
With the talented staff available to it, it is surprising that C&EN has not looked deeper into the causes of this massive export of chemists’ jobs overseas. Let me cite one: Congress has encouraged job export by tax preferences and giveaways. One of the nastiest is the repatriation scam that was sold as creating jobs.
It works this way. Any money that has been invested overseas and is earning income is allowed to take all of the deductions and credits due the company, but any payment of the actual tax is deferred until the earnings are brought back, if ever, to the U.S.; that is, repatriated. No company operating entirely in the U.S. can get this benefit. Thus the corporations get a tax-free loan from the U.S. The largest beneficiaries have been big pharma. Pfizer heads the list with Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson, and DuPont close behind. The few dollars that have been repatriated have been mainly to increase dividends or for stock buybacks.
It would seem that if the American in ACS means anything, there might be some consideration for our own jobs. ACS should have fought repatriation’s creation and should now fight to cancel this monstrosity. But then we are not a union.
By Emil Lawton
Sherman Oaks, Calif
Madeleine Jacobs, ACS executive director and CEO, responds:
ACS is actively working to create new employment opportunities here in the U.S. Many excellent resources are currently being provided through the ACS Careers program to our members. This valuable resource can be accessed at www.acs.org/careers.
New programs are also being planned. Last year, then-ACS president Joseph S. Francisco convened a task force of eminent chemists to examine job losses in the U.S. chemical enterprise and to make recommendations on things ACS could pursue to stem those losses and help create new high-paying science-and-technology-based jobs here in the U.S.
The task force report, “Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs,” was unveiled in August. The report contains many actionable recommendations that ACS is already implementing—specifically, pursuing federal policy changes to help foster a more favorable environment for job creation and creating an Entrepreneurial Resource Center to help our members create new start-ups and grow them to commercial success. The report can be found at www.acs.org/creatingjobs.
The ACS Board of Directors also recently approved a society position statement that seeks enactment of federal policies to foster a more favorable job creation business climate. The statement covers four main policy areas: Tax & Trade; Technology Transfer & Commercialization; Small Business & Entrepreneurship; and Intellectual Property. ACS is actively advocating for these policy priorities on Capitol Hill and is partnering with other organizations supporting similar initiatives.
You can access the statement online. Both the task force report and the ACS position statement address the topic of repatriation of income with a recommendation that it receive preferential treatment if it is brought back to the U.S. and invested in technology and job creation versus, as you point out, to increase dividends or stock buybacks.
Thank you for your interest in the vital issue of job creation here in the U.S. I hope that my response demonstrates that ACS is actively engaged in trying to help create new job opportunities in the chemical enterprise.
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