[Congressional Record Volume 150, Number 21 (Wednesday, February 25, 2004)]
[Pages H615-H621]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 7, 2003, the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier) is 
recognized for 60 minutes.
  Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I do not normally use this forum of Special 
Orders to address our colleagues, but tonight I want to spend some time 
talking about a very important issue. I want to talk about hamburger-
flipping jobs. Actually, I want to talk about the claim made by some 
politicians and pundits that the American economy is turning into an 
economy of hamburger-flipping jobs.
  Now, we all know that hamburger-flipping jobs is a buzzword. It is a 
phrase intended to sum up a lot of complex changes that are going on in 
the American economy. Obviously those changes are impacting jobs. They 
are impacting businesses, they are impacting families, and they are 
impacting communities. Talking about hamburger-flipping jobs is a way 
to say that our economy is in decline. It says we are losing, quote/
unquote, good jobs, and in their place we are creating bad jobs, 
second-rate jobs, no-future jobs.
  Sometimes the same people talk about dishwashing jobs, or janitor 
jobs, or retail jobs, especially at Wal-Mart or Target or K-Mart. 
People use buzzwords because they reduce complicated ideas to a simple 
digestible package, and in this case we are talking about a whole host 
of very complex economic trends.
  It is no surprise that people turn to buzzwords. We no longer have to 
worry about viewers nodding off to sleep during long-winded speeches. 
They have 200 cable channels from which to choose, and obviously the 
unlimited Internet, so they can clearly move on for seconds.
  But, Mr. Speaker, I hope that our colleagues will bear with me as I 
go through this, because I think it is absolutely critical to dispel 
the utterly ridiculous, factually inaccurate, completely fictitious 
assertion that the American economy is heading downhill and that we are 
replacing good jobs with hamburger-flipping jobs.
  Exposing the charade of the hamburger-flipping jobs argument is 
absolutely critical, because these buzzwords are at the heart of a 
concerted attack on the fundamental basis, Mr. Speaker, of our economic 
strength, an attack on the fundamental basis of America's economic 
  There are serious people who want to turn back the clock on our 
economy, threatening very real gains that have been made by millions 
and millions of American families.
  Now, it is buzzword time again, Mr. Speaker. Talking about hamburger-
flipping jobs is a way to demean our, quote/unquote, service economy. 
What do we mean by service economy? We do have an economy that is 

[[Page H616]]

based on services, that is true. That means jobs that serve people, 
serving people well, customers, clients, taxpayers, patients and 
students. This new service economy is, I believe, a good thing. But as 
I have said, this is a very complicated subject. It is big.
  When we talk about the U.S. economy today, we are talking about an 
$11 trillion economy, and that is just in 1 year, Mr. Speaker. The 
forces, changes, trends and technologies that are in play here are 
global, so the impact is even greater than our Nation's $11 trillion 
economy, and the changes run deep. We need to look at changes that have 
impacted our country and our economy over the last century, and 
particularly over the last two decades, the last 20 years. These 
changes over the last two decades are key to this story.
  The hamburger-flipping jobs argument is basically a way of saying 
that the changes in our economy mean things are getting worse or will 
get worse for most Americans. But in fact, Mr. Speaker, things are 
getting much better, and they promise to get even better for America in 
the future.

                              {time}  1900

  This is an economy that is increasingly based on skilled workers. We 
do have a more global economy with complex business, trade, 
transportation, communications, and cultural links. We have new 
technologies making their way into so many aspects of our lives, and 
mostly in ways that are very, very good. By and large, these forces are 
working together in ways that are making the American economy work 
better in 2004 than it did 2 decades ago back in 1984.
  Now, I am using the term ``economy'' in the broadest sense, because 
each of these factors, services, skilled workers, globalization, trade, 
transportation, communications, and technology, is dramatically 
changing the way Americans do the things that make up our lives: work, 
shop, go to school, go to the doctor, be entertained, and have fun. In 
short, the people who claim that we are creating a hamburger-flipping 
jobs economy are asking us to turn back the clock on the past 20 years 
of change.
  Now, every change has not been good, obviously, and even the good 
changes that we have undergone on an overall basis have not been good 
for everyone. But I think we are clearly on the path to a better 
future, and dramatic course changes at this point could be very, very 
bad; would, in fact, I believe, be very bad for Americans.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, we have been talking about 20 years of change. I 
have not been talking about it just by accident. In fact, one of the 
reasons why I am here is that I believe we are now 20 years into a 
profound and dramatic period of economic change in America. One of the 
most striking things about the hamburger-flipping jobs buzzword is all 
the concepts it embodies. Those concepts have been around for a long 
time. It is basically a political and economic urban myth listening to 
that term: hamburger-flipping jobs.
  When I listen to different politicians talk about hamburger-flipping 
jobs and what they see as a declining economy, I swear that I have had 
a flashback to 1984. The spirit of the rhetoric, the basis of the 
ideas, the sense of foreboding, and being on the wrong economic track 
reminds me of Walter Mondale's run for President in 1984. Now, I have 
recently gotten my hands on his nomination speech before the Democratic 
Convention in that year.
  It is a remarkable read, Mr. Speaker, and not because it stirs the 
soul. It is remarkable to see in such explicit detail the platform on 
which Mr. Mondale ran for President back in 1984. He said that taxes 
were too low, the deficit was going to destroy our economy, we needed 
to adopt a nuclear freeze and negotiate annually with the Soviet Union. 
These were the big issues of his campaign back in 1984; and as we all 
know, he was, thank God, trounced by Ronald Reagan. Walter Mondale did 
not actually use the term ``hamburger-flipping jobs,'' but he said a 
few things that show that in 1984, the Democratic Party standard was 
firmly entrenched, deeply tied to that intellectual camp believing that 
hamburger-flipping jobs as a pejorative were the wave of the future.
  Speaking of the Reagan administration, the candidate Walter Mondale 
said, ``They crimped our future. They let us be routed in international 
competition, and now the help wanted ads are full of listings for 
executives and for dish washers, but not much in between.'' He did not 
quite say hamburger-flipping jobs, Mr. Speaker, but there it is, the 
claim that most of the jobs that were being created were for dish 
  He went on to say, ``When the American economy leads the world, jobs 
are here, the prosperity is here for our children. But that is not what 
is happening today. This is the worst trade year in American history. 
Three million of our best jobs have gone overseas.''
  Again, that is Walter Mondale talking in 1984 about where we stood. 
He said, ``It has been devastating, the worst trade year in American 
history. Three million of our best jobs have gone overseas.''
  And as if Walter Mondale had a vision of 2004 and the fact that 
leading American companies are investing in facilities in places like 
China, India, Europe, and Mexico, creating new jobs in those new 
countries, Mondale said, ``To big companies that send our jobs 
overseas, my message is, we need those jobs here at home, and our 
country won't help your business unless your business helps our 
country.'' That was Walter Mondale in 1984. Now, this certainly sounds 
a lot like the political rhetoric regarding Benedict Arnold CEOs that 
we hear today.
  We also did some research, Mr. Speaker, to find the earliest 
reference that we could come up with to the term hamburger-flipping 
jobs, and lo and behold it was in 1984. We found an article in the New 
York Times that was basically about this very same issue: the concern 
that good American manufacturing jobs were disappearing, often moving 
overseas and being replaced by low-paying service jobs, the dreaded 
hamburger-flipping jobs. At this point, Mr. Speaker, I would include in 
the Record an article in the New York Times which I am going to talk 

                [From the New York Times, Sept. 4, 1984]

               ``High Tech,'' Narrated by Walter Cronkite

                         (By Steven Greenhouse)

       It is late afternoon at the Fanuc Limited factory at the 
     foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, and not a worker is in sight--
     not a human one at least. The huge metallic arm of a robot 
     swivels around and places a small mechanical part into the 
     machine it is building. In this way, Fanuc's robot-filled, 
     computer-controlled factory can run eight-hour shifts without 
     anyone working inside.
       That's the haunting opening scene from the probing hour-
     long CBS documentary, ``High Tech: Dream or Nightmare?'' 
     which is to be aired tonight at 8. In narrating this timely 
     documentary, Walter Cronkite makes clear that these 21st-
     century manufacturing techniques are a boon to productivity. 
     With robots replacing people, there's little need to worry 
     about absenteeism, alcoholism, strikes, shoddy workmanship or 
     overtime pay.
       However, Mr. Cronkite questions just how good this brave 
     new manufacturing world is for the nation's workers. By 
     forcing dozens of aging factories to be closed and thousands 
     of workers to be thrown out of their jobs, robots and other 
     high-tech production techniques have created what Mr. 
     Cronkite called ``the blue-collar blues.'' Indeed, one expert 
     interviewed predicts that technological change alone will 
     cause a shortfall of six million jobs for American workers by 
       The show addresses several of the key issues facing the 
     United States as it embarks upon another industrial 
     revolution: What is going to happen to the hundreds of 
     thousands of workers whose jobs are taken away by machines? 
     By destroying many high-paying factory jobs, are high-tech 
     production techniques going to turn the United States into a 
     nation of $50,000-a-year systems managers and $3.50-an-hour 
     janitors and hamburger flippers? In other words, is high tech 
     going to polarize the United States and cause its great 
     middle class to disappear?
       Mr. Cronkite also examines an important corollary economic 
     question: How healthy is the nation's shift from a 
     manufacturing economy to a service one? He asks whether this 
     shift is going on faster than it naturally would--or should--
     as a result of imports from countries that heavily subsidize 
     their industries or pay one-tenth the wages of what American 
     companies pay. The cameras also look at the unevenness of the 
     nation's recovery. Thriving Silicon Valley is contrasted with 
     ailing Rust Bowl cities like Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio, 
     which one expert described as ``Manufacturing Appalachias.''
       Mr. Cronkite interviews Lee A. Iacocca, Chrysler's dynamic 
     chairman, who says the nation should be doing more to 
     preserve its ailing manufacturing base. ``You can't just have 
     video arcades and drive-in banks and hamburger joints,'' Mr. 
     Iacocca says.

[[Page H617]]

       None of the workers or economists interviewed takes a 
     Luddite view suggesting that high tech be scrapped because it 
     throws workers out of jobs. But they caution that unions may 
     vigorously oppose the introduction of robots--Mr. Cronkite 
     calls them ``steel-collar workers''--if blue-collar workers 
     are merely victims of high-tech, if they do not share in the 
     benefits resulting from high-tech's more efficient production 
       ``I think the real issue is the social cost of the change--
     who pays for it, how it's paid,'' said Harley Shaiken, a 
     technology expert at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
       Mr. Iacocca suggests that government, labor and management 
     should undertake a massive retraining program to salvage the 
     lives of 45-year-old workers laid off at Youngstown's steel 
     mills and Detroit's assembly plants. Mr. Shaiken proposes 
     government assistance to help the jobless move to areas where 
     jobs are abundant. And Thomas R. Donahue, the secretary-
     treasurer of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., suggests a shorter work week 
     to help spread the jobs that remain.
       The documentary is more cerebral, more theoretical than 
     most. It is long on interviews--most of them excellent--with 
     experts such as economists, corporate executives and robotics 
     pioneers. At the same time, the show is short on interviews 
     with workers whose lives have been turned topsy-turvy by 
     technology. One or two detailed interviews with these victims 
     of technology would have made the show more compelling.
       The documentary is at its most interesting when is shows 
     how the antiseptic new high-tech factories operate. An 
     enjoyable and informative takeoff on Chaplin's ``Modern 
     Times'' was a speeded-up sequence showing the construction of 
     a jumbo jet in Boeing's highly automated factory.
       The camera work in that sequence and many others is superb. 
     By zooming in on computer screens, for example, the 
     photographer helps make some of these difficult new 
     technologies comprehensible. In addition, the camera conveys 
     the eerie, often alienating qualities of these technologies.
       At the program's conclusion, Mr. Cronkite asks what is 
     going to happen to the workers of the 1990's--that is to say, 
     to children now in school. He wonders whether high tech will 
     provide enough jobs to match what will presumably be their 
     impressive skills and education. That, however, may be the 
     stuff of another documentary.

  Mr. Speaker, the article that I talk about is a news analysis of the 
probing hour-long PBS documentary that was entitled ``High-Tech: Dream 
or Nightmare?'' Again, this is back in 1984. It was an article about a 
television documentary by then the Nation's leading TV personality, 
Walter Cronkite. Remember, this was 20 years ago, 1984, the very early 
days of cable, before satellite television. The networks were really 
king and spoke to a majority of the American people.
  The New York Times describes the haunting opening scene of the 
documentary: a robot-filled, computer-controlled Japanese factory. No 
human workers in sight. The article reads, ``Walter Cronkite makes 
clear that these 21st century manufacturing techniques are a boon to 
  ``However, Mr. Cronkite questions just how good this brave new 
manufacturing world is for our Nation's workers. By forcing dozens of 
aging factories to be closed and thousands of workers to be thrown out 
of their jobs, robots and other high-tech production techniques have 
created what Mr. Cronkite called `the blue-collar blues.' Indeed, one 
expert interviewed predicts that technological change alone will cause 
a shortfall of 6 million jobs for American workers by 1990.''
  Again, this was a New York Times piece in 1984 giving an account of 
the Walter Cronkite documentary.
  It goes on to ask, ``What is going to happen to the hundreds of 
thousands of workers whose jobs are taken away by machines? By 
destroying many high-paying factory jobs, are high-tech production 
techniques going to turn the United States into a Nation of $50,000-a-
year systems managers and $3.50 an hour janitors'' and, yes, Mr. 
Speaker, ``hamburger-flippers?'' As I have said, hamburger-flippers is 
the buzzword for the very, very negative service economy, and we see it 
used that way back there in 1984.
  I quote again, Mr. Speaker: ``Mr. Cronkite also examines an important 
corollary economic question: How healthy is the Nation's shift from a 
manufacturing economy to a service one?'' Again, that is 1984, the New 
York Times reporting on the Walter Cronkite documentary.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, Lee Iacocca, referred to in this article as 
Chrysler's dynamic chairman, was always better at turning a phrase than 
most. He argued in the piece that the country needed to protect its 
manufacturing base saying, ``You can't just have video arcades and 
drive-in banks and hamburger joints.''
  That kind of argument, Mr. Speaker, has a timeless feel to it. We 
heard a lot of it in 2003, and we will continue to hear a lot of it in 
2004. It is just so amazing that we go back and hear the exact same 
thing having been said 20 years ago.
  I believe that stepping back and looking at this issue over a longer 
time frame like this 20 years is actually very important for us to 
understand just how mistaken and how really dangerous the hamburger-
flipping analysis that was offered in 1984 and is being offered in 2004 
is, and that Cronkite documentary and the New York Times were right 
when they said massive changes were under way in America. The U.S. was 
entering a period of profound economic and technological change. To say 
it was the dawn of a new industrial revolution probably is not the best 
choice of words, because the fundamental change in the economy was the 
shift from the heavy industry-based economy of the middle 20th century 
to the more technologically and skill-based new economy of these past 
20 years, from 1984 to 2004.
  It is not easy to describe the new economy, Mr. Speaker; but some 
aspects are very clear. It used more communication technologies to 
connect people from all corners of the world. Information technology, 
digital technology, and the Internet exploded during that 20-year 
period. It was faster. Business adopted just-in-time production 
schedules that relied on very precise planning and transportation 
models, and there was a lot of change. That was true for business, and 
it was true for people as well.
  I want to focus on this last concept first, namely, change. The new 
economy, some call it the service economy, but I think a better name 
for it is the 21st century economy. It meant a lot of change, and 
change that has happened very quickly. To give an example, the pace of 
economic change in the past 20 years compared to the preceding era of 
economic stability, which I would say ended up in a period of 
stagnation; I looked at the list of companies in the Dow Jones 
industrial average. The Dow Jones has compiled an average of the stock 
prices of a select handful of the Nation's leading businesses since 
1884, and it is intended to reflect the market generally, the Dow 30. 
Now, from 1963 to 1983, the Dow Jones average included 30 companies. 
Over those 20 years, 26 of the 30 companies were the exact same. Only 
four dropped off and were replaced by new companies. Now, that is 
obviously stability that we saw from 1963 to 1983; and for the most 
part, during that period of time it was good, it was comfortable, and 
it was stable.
  The 26 companies, Mr. Speaker, that stayed the same through the 
entire 20-year period are Allied Chemical, Aluminum Company of America, 
American Can, AT&T, American Tobacco, Bethlehem Steel, DuPont, Eastman 
Kodak, Exxon, General Electric, General Foods, General Motors, 
Goodyear, Inco, International Harvester, International Paper Company, 
Proctor and Gamble, Owens-Illinois Glass, Sears Roebuck, Standard Oil 
of California, Texaco, Union Carbide, United Technologies, U.S. Steel, 
Westinghouse, and Woolworth. Those were 26 of the 30 companies that 
remained constant during that 2-decade period from 1963 to 1983. Of 
course, by the mid 1970s, the economy was not performing well, to say 
the least. I will discuss that more later. But as I said, the line 
between comfortable stability and very uncomfortable stagnation can be 
quite thin.
  Looking at the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the period of 
transition into this 21st century economy, that is, the past 20 years, 
shows a very, very different picture. From 1984 to 2004, there was a 
remarkable turnover of 16 new corporate faces among the 30 included in 
the Dow Jones Industrial Average, those 30 businesses. Today, the Dow 
Jones Industrial Average's 30 includes the following companies: 3M, 
Alcoa, Altria Group, American Express, AT&T, Boeing, Caterpillar, 
Citigroup, CocaCola, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, Exxon, Mobile, General 
Electric, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Honeywell, 
Intel, IBM, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, J.P. Morgan Chase, 
McDonald's, Merck, Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble, SBC Communications, 
United Technologies, Wal-Mart, and Disney.

[[Page H618]]

                              {time}  1915

  The new companies read like a Who's Who of the economy of today, 
including Boeing, Citigroup, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Intel, 
Johnson and Johnson, JP Morgan, Microsoft, SBC, Wal-Mart and Disney.
  This list may be the most succinct way to respond to the hamburger 
flipping jobs argument, Mr. Speaker. The new economy, the service 
economy, the 21st century economy, the changes in the American economy 
over the past 20 years have seen the rise of these new corporate giants 
and the industries and technologies they represent. They represent the 
revolution in computer software and hardware, the revolution in 
telecommunications, the revolution in global finance, the global 
entertainment business, the revolution in retail, distribution and 
supply management. They are now key faces in the American economy.
  Those companies that survived, those that were there throughout the 
last 20 years, like AT&T, General Electric, General Motors, Eastman 
Kodak, Exxon, IBM and Proctor & Gamble, all adopted those same 
technologies and techniques to make themselves 21st century economy 
leaders. In other words, change swept through those companies even when 
the names stay the same.
  Change is scary, I will acknowledge that, Mr. Speaker. It is scary 
for businesses, and businesses are not actually alive. Businesses are 
really just organizations of people, and we all know that change is 
scary for people. Change often leads to uncertainty and confusion, at 
least temporarily, and even when it is not affecting some directly, it 
does create anxiety. No doubt about it, the 21st century economy has 
brought change and anxiety.
  Tracking the early history of the hamburger flipping job political 
urban myth, I came across another absolutely striking article from the 
New York Times. This article was just 2 years after the previous one 
that I mentioned. This one was written in 1986. In terms of our 20-year 
time frame, this was still basically the start of this process of 
moving towards the 21st century economy.
  The article is entitled The Average Guy Takes It on the Chin. It is 
by Steven Greenhouse. He authored the article that I quoted from 
earlier about Walter Cronkite's documentary, and it is a rhetorical 
precursor to the message of the two Americas that we are hearing about 
today in this Presidential campaign.
  This article from 1986 begins: ``For millions of breadwinners, the 
American dream is becoming the impossible dream. Even the most basic 
tenet of the dream, that a young family will be more prosperous in its 
middle age, has grown more elusive. The statistics tell the harsh story 
of Americans struggling just to stay in place economically.''
  Obviously this was not a good news piece written back in 1986. It 
tells the story, which was very real in that year, of the economic 
stagnation that struck this country in the 1970s, which culminated with 
the wrenching economic downturn that we saw in the early 1980s. Well, 
the economy began to grow in 1983. It was entering the period of 
profound change that I have talked about, and the eventual outcomes 
were not clear obviously at that point.
  Frank S. Levy, a professor of public policy at the University of 
Maryland, is quoted as saying, ``From the end of World War II to 1973, 
everybody was getting better off, but from 1973 through now,'' that was 
1986, ``that has stopped,'' he said.
  The article goes on to say, ``Economists generally agree that the 
only way workers can manage to make substantial strides in real 
earnings during the years ahead is through steady and strong 
productivity growth, which very few economists are predicting now.''
  And it says, ``Many economists point out that other countries such as 
Japan and West Germany have achieved higher growth in productivity. 
Some even suggest that the United States may be starting to undergo the 
same wrenching economic decline that the British have experienced in 
recent decades.''
  Now, remember again, this was written in 1986, Mr. Speaker.
  I mention that quote because at the beginning of this past 20 years, 
there was a very real concern, fear some would say, that foreign 
countries like Japan and West Germany were more productive and were 
more successful. They would dominate the 21st century economy. In fact, 
many here in this Congress at that time, I remember very vividly 
standing here listening to those who would argue that we had to model 
the U.S. economy after the economies of Japan and Germany, their 
industrial planning models.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, of course, jobs are key, and the prospect that they 
will be scarce does breed anxiety. Again, this 1986 New York Times 
article goes on to say, ``As young workers enter the job market, many 
can find only low-paid jobs in the service sector.'' It goes on to 
quote Sandra Shaber of Chase Econometrics who said, ``For every 25-
year-old I read about making $300,000 on Wall Street, there are 
hundreds of 25-year-olds working as fast-food people or hospital 
orderlies earning $3.50 an hour.''
  Now, there it is, Mr. Speaker, the vision of the service economy, 
meaning one well-paid Wall Street success story and hundreds of 25-
year-olds working in fast-food chains and cleaning bedpans.
  In my view, the New York Times article obviously failed in predicting 
the future, but it actually did an excellent job in summarizing the 
recent economic history up to that point back in 1986. The problem was 
slow productivity. They were right on target.
  The article highlights, ``When asked the reason for lagging income 
growth, economists speak with rare unanimity: Slow productivity is 
Public Enemy No. 1,'' these economists said back in 1986. It goes on to 
quote Audrey Freeman, executive director of the Conference Board. She 
said, ``In the long term, the only way to get wages to increase without 
inflation is to increase productivity, but we haven't been doing very 
well in that department.'' Again, that was said in 1986, portending the 
  The fundamental problem was productivity. They got that right, Mr. 
Speaker, but the economists in this article got just about everything 
else dead wrong. Here is what they had to say about the ongoing 
transition to more services in the economy. They said, ``As the 
Nation's economy moves from manufacturing to services, the productivity 
problem compounds. It is generally easier to turn out more widgets per 
hour than to squeeze more hourly output from lawyers, travel agents or 
hamburger flippers.''
  Not to belabor the point, but I would quote again from the article, 
``The experts are not optimistic about the outlook for productivity 
growth. `I really don't see productivity growth coming back to the 3 
percent levels that we had in the 1950s,' said Douglas P. Handler, a 
productivity specialist with Wharton Econometrics.' And, `There is very 
little on the horizon that would cause us to be optimistic about 
productivity improvements over the remainder of this decade.''' Again, 
this was written in 1986, 18 years ago at the beginning of this move 
that started 20 years ago towards this 21st century economy.
  Finally, I cannot pass on the fact that the author goes out of his 
way to point out that the one group of people that is not able to see 
how bad things were in the American economy in 1986 were the American 
  In the face of all the economists in the article, the author notes, 
``Nonetheless, households are stubbornly refusing to change their 
spending habits. And spirits, despite the grim income statistics, 
remain high. According to the University of Michigan Survey Research 
Center, consumer confidence is far higher than it was during the recent 
times of double-digit inflation, interest rates and unemployment.''
  Well, Mr. Speaker, this article is a great example of the kind of 
anxiety about technology replacing jobs and service jobs being bad, 
foreign countries like Japan being better prepared for the economy of 
the future than America, and productivity being dead in the water with 
no hope in sight.
  As I said, this article was from 1986, nearly 20 years ago, but if 
you listen to the political debate today in 2004, you hear many of the 
exact same themes: Technology threatens jobs, losing jobs to lower-cost 
foreign competitors. You can almost take every reference to Japan and 
simply change the country name to China, and you get a tangible sense 
that the future is not good.
  I am not going to go chapter and verse through all the doom and gloom

[[Page H619]]

predictions and warnings of those who think that America and its people 
are actually threatened by the 21st century economy. We do not have the 
time to do that, and it is obvious to those who have been listening to 
this national debate over the years, whether the issue was trade with 
Mexico, the creation of the global trade rules of the WTO, trade with 
China, or the recent bursting of the Internet bubble.
  Instead, let us remember that 20 years is a pretty long time. Yes, we 
hear many of the same concerns in 2004 that were voiced in the late 
1980s, but we can now judge how accurate, how sensible, how thoughtful 
those concerns were 20 years ago. In fact, I believe that we can look 
at how things played out over the past 20 years, the dire predictions 
and the reality, and learn a thing or two about how the similar line of 
thinking would impact our future going forward.
  So did America turn into a Nation of a few $50,000-a-year systems 
managers and an army of $3.50-an-hour janitors and hamburger flippers, 
a handful of Wall Street wizards lording it over a middle America of 
fast-food servers and hospital orderlies? Did the American dream become 
the impossible dream? Remember, we are no longer in the world of 
economic or academic theory when we answer these questions. For a 
moment, we do not need projections from the Conference Board, Chase 
Econometrics or Wharton Econometrics. We have just lived these 20 years 
from 1984 to 2004.
  Did the American dream die over the last 20 years? For nearly all 
Americans, nearly all Americans, the answer is a resounding no. Did 
Japan take over the global economy as was predicted? The answer, an 
obvious no. Did U.S. jobs decrease? Another obvious no.
  Over those 20 years, over those 20 years the U.S. economy put 40 
million people to work, and pay was up. Did incomes fall? No. Pay and 
real incomes increased. As I said earlier, the forces that ended up 
shaping our economy over those 20 years actually impacted just about 
every aspect of our lives, your lives, Mr. Speaker. A focus on better 
services, more skilled workers, more global integration, more 
international trade, better transportation, revolutions in 
communications and technology, they impacted every corner of life here 
in America.
  So let us take a moment to take a broader look, step back and think 
about the big activities in our economy and in your life. Are you 
consuming more or less? For most people the answer is a lot more, and, 
remarkably, much of the stuff we buy is relatively less expensive and 
usually more technologically advanced than it was 20 years ago. Is your 
television set bigger? Almost certainly. Do you have more choice in 
what you watch? I am from Los Angeles, so I am biased about the 
quality, but say what you will about the products of the American 
entertainment industry, there are many, many more choices available to 
viewers in 2004 than there were in 1984.
  Do you have a computer in your home today, and did you back in 1984? 
Do you use the Internet? Do you communicate with friends and family 
over e-mail? Do you go on line to check the weather forecast or movie 
times, or shop for something that is hard to find, or hear about sales 
at your favorite stores? You did not do any of those things 20 years 
ago, Mr. Speaker.

                              {time}  1930

  Did you have a cell phone 20 years ago? Again, this is an easy one. 
You probably do today, and almost certainly did not 20 years ago. Many 
millions of Americans feel better because they have their cell phones 
with them and can contact family and friends in a pinch.
  Do you travel more? Fly more? Are you driving a better car than you 
did in 1984? The answer to all of those questions is almost certainly 
yes, as automakers have stretched themselves to the brink putting new 
technologies into cars that get better mileage, break down less, are 
safer, are environmentally cleaner and are packed with technology. 
Think about the times you had to take your automobile back to the shop 
20 years ago juxtaposed to today. The kind of technology that is packed 
into the cheapest car in 2004 was considered to be cutting-edge 
technology in 1984.
  Has health care improved? Now, people are concerned about health care 
costs, obviously. And now is not the time to go into that debate. We 
talk about it regularly around here. But, clearly, since 1984, the 
number of new treatments and improvements in new technologies have been 
staggering. We can and will debate about how to pay for it all, but 
there is no denying that health care in America has taken a huge leap 
forward, and I am convinced that we are now on the brink of a new 
biotechnology revolution.
  Is education improving? Again, education is never good enough, but we 
have made great strides in education since the middle 1980s.
  We could go on all day thinking about how things have changed over 
the last 20 years, but it is clear they have changed a lot. The U.S. 
economy is turning out bigger, better, and more advanced products and 
services. There is no question that the doom and gloom predictions of 
20 years ago proved to be way off the mark. Contrary to the Mondale 
prediction of 1984, the U.S. economy did not crash and burn.
  So did the service sector slow U.S. productivity growth, as was 
outlined in that Steven Greenhouse article in the New York Times in 
1986? The answer: a resounding no. Did most twenty-somethings end up 
working in fast food and other low-skilled jobs while a few made it 
big? The answer is no. Did computers and robots replace millions of 
workers and leave them unemployed or flipping hamburgers? The answer is 
no. But that is actually a complicated issue that we need to get into 
in greater detail.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, if we want to know the why behind the fact that 20 
years ago there were predictions of doom and gloom and then those 20 
years ended up resulting in such great strides, we need to look at the 
core economic question. That question is: Did American productivity go 
up? The answer is, yes, it went up dramatically.
  In fact, productivity has been going up so rapidly, and we have all 
heard this recently, some people now think that the problem is not 
productivity; they think it is now a jobs problem. Remember that scary 
New York Times piece in 1986? ``The Average Guy Takes It on the Chin,'' 
was the title of the article. Greenhouse and his gaggle of economists 
and productivity experts pointed out that increasing productivity was 
key to the future. They were right in 1986 when they said that 
productivity was key to the future. The thing they got wrong was their 
prediction of doom and gloom. They missed the productivity revolution 
that was emerging then and there right before their eyes.
  They predicted the hamburger-flipping jobs future. In 1986, that was 
excusable, because predicting the future is tough. I know, because I am 
sorry to say I did not buy Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco stock back in 
the mid-1980s. But some people still serve up the same ideas that we 
heard in 1984. It is like they were locked in a time capsule for the 
past 2 decades and missed the massive economic changes that have 
  The fact is, Mr. Speaker, something happened to American businesses 
on the way to the hamburger-flipping future, or, more accurately, a 
number of things happened. As I mentioned earlier, American business 
underwent a revolution in computer software and hardware, a revolution 
in telecommunications, a revolution in banking and finance, a 
revolution in transportation and delivery, and a revolution in retail 
distribution and supply management.
  We saw companies like Citigroup, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Intel, 
Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, SBC, Wal-Mart, and 
Disney become part of the corporate elite. Overnight and express 
delivery services exploded. The Internet became a place of business 
with eBay, Yahoo!, Amazon and Google getting started back then.
  Just as important as those success stories is the fact that the 
revolutionary business practices and technologies infiltrated just 
about every level of American economic life. The corporate dynasties 
that survived the past 20 years, AT&T, GE, General Motors, Eastman 
Kodak, Exxon, IBM, and Proctor and Gamble, remade themselves into 21st 
century economic leaders. American small business remade itself as 
well. Computers, cell phones,

[[Page H620]]

pagers, credit cards and scanners are part of nearly every business in 
America today, even very small businesses.
  Does your dry cleaner take credit cards? Does your auto mechanic have 
a diagnostic computer to check your car? The buzzwords for business and 
the economy of the last 20 years are concepts and strategies like 
supply chain management, just-in-time delivery, distribution centers, 
information management, customer relations, forecasting and planning. 
It is about adding value to the raw materials and basic goods.
  To businesses, the result was a massive jump in their ability to 
serve their customers better. And I do not just mean customers like you 
and me, but business customers too. The ability to harness technologies 
that improved planning, customer service, and communications created 
jumps in productivity and efficiency. To customers, whether the 
customer is General Motors being served by a parts supplier or a family 
being served by Wal-Mart, the result has been greater choices and lower 
  I am going to repeat something here: the ability to harness the new 
technologies, use technologies, those technologies created the 
increased productivity and efficiency. That is the key here, because 
machines do not harness technology, Mr. Speaker, people do. And that is 
why people, millions and millions of smart, skilled, hardworking 
Americans have been at the heart of the revolution of the 21st century 
  Again, in our search for a suitable buzzword, the ``services 
economy'' really does not do it. It is a ``business serving customers 
economy.'' Still not catchy, but business serving customers is really 
more accurate.
  We do have a service economy. Providing a service of some kind to 
someone represents 65 percent of everything produced in America, and 
those services account for over 80 percent of U.S. jobs. The 20-year-
old predictions that the service economy would be based on hamburger-
flipping jobs or dish washers, lawn workers, and retail salespeople 
clearly missed the mark. We have lived through the 20 years creating 
this 21st century economy. We are in the Internet Age, the 500-channel, 
50-inch-TV age, the prices-are-falling-at-Wal-Mart age. This is not the 
hamburger-flipping economy.
  Mr. Speaker, jobs concern people. Mom and pop always want their kids 
to be able to get a decent job, if for no other reason so that they do 
not have to keep supporting them. That was at the heart of family 
anxiety in 1984 and 1986, and that will remain the biggest economic 
question in 2004 and 2006. And we lived through the Internet bubble in 
the late 1990s. We know that every boy and girl in America is not going 
to be a Silicon Valley multimillion dollar entrepreneur or 
biotechnology engineer. Mom and pop are practical enough to understand 
that. But that is not the problem. The important question is what are 
the 21st century economy jobs going to be? What will Jimmy and Nicole 
be doing in 6 years? The fact is that they, like most American workers, 
will be in the business of serving someone tomorrow, next year, and in 
  Of course there will still be fast-food jobs, retail jobs, lawn care, 
janitorial, and house-cleaning jobs. There will be construction jobs. 
There always will be. And as the number of people in America grows, and 
we are approaching 300 million Americans in this great land of ours, 
the number of those jobs will grow. But our economy created 40 million 
new jobs over the past 20 years. Forty million jobs since the birth of 
the argument that the service economy meant nothing more than 
hamburger-flipping jobs.
  So let us get down to brass tacks. What kinds of jobs are the 
American people doing in the 21st century economy? And I am going to go 
through this litany here, Mr. Speaker.
  Network and communications administration, business administration 
and management, computer engineering technology, electronics 
engineering technology for all the machines that are not computers, 
health information technology, legal support, accounting, marketing, 
advertising, customer relations, news and information reporting, tax 
preparation and planning, highly specialized transportation and 
delivery, human resources support, pension and benefits management, 
purchasing and global sourcing, demand forecasting, inventory control, 
warehousing, and distribution.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, these are not CEO jobs. They are not get-rich-quick 
jobs. But they are good jobs using very valuable skills. They are 
service jobs that are a part of just about every kind of business in 
America today. They are not Bill Gates, and they are not hamburger-
flipping jobs.
  Think about the big and growing sectors of our economy. Think about 
what you spend your money on, Mr. Speaker: health care; biotechnology 
and pharmaceuticals; elderly care; education; movies, entertainment and 
digital gaming; recreation; telecommunications, cable, satellite TV and 
radio, phones, cellular and wireless networks; fashion; insurance; real 
estate; autos, maintenance and repair; mass transit; investments, 
whether you call it the stock market, pensions, or securities. We all 
know that more than half the American people are members of the 
investment class, as many as six in 10. Government services, which is, 
as we all know, almost unimaginably big. Leisure, hospitality, and 
  Then there are the businesses that serve other businesses: 
engineering, environmental protection services and technologies, risk 
management, export and import financing, express delivery, high-tech 
manufacturing, and biomedical informatics.
  Mr. Speaker, the 21st century economy, the business serving customers 
economy, is based on all of these things. Not robots, robot 
technicians, and a bunch of fast-food workers and lawn workers. As we 
have made the transition of the past 20 years, more than half of all 
service jobs and a large majority of new service jobs paid above the 
average wage. And as I said earlier, low-paying hamburger-flipping, 
retail and janitorial jobs continue to grow as our population grows, 
but executive and professional jobs are growing much, much faster.
  If the American economy of the past 20 years, this new 21st century 
economy that has revolutionized the way businesses serve their 
customers, is so great a success, why is any of this an issue? How can 
somebody in 2004 say that we are becoming an economy of hamburger-
flipping jobs and not be ridiculed and laughed off the national stage?
  A big part of the answer is that our economy has been undergoing a 
big long transition, which is the 20-year story, but we live day to day 
and year to year in an economy where things get better or worse. In 
economic terms, we have trends, which are the long-term big picture, 
and cycles, which are shorter term. The trends can last a couple of 
decades, even the better part of a century. The cycles are business 
cycles that last a couple of years or maybe one decade.
  Most economists, or at least economic historians, would agree that 
our Nation's economic history has been dominated by the Industrial 
Revolution and the creation of the global industrial economy. We had a 
largely agrarian economy when our country was born. America then 
underwent a long transition, a transformation, really, to being the 
world's leading heavy industrial economy. That long economic transition 
took up the bulk of our Nation's history. It was well under way by the 
1840s and probably climaxed in the 1960s.
  Big historical trends rarely have bright-line starting and stopping 
points. Politics and history can work that way with elections, 
assassinations, wars and treaties providing clear historical dates to 
look back on. Economic change is different, Mr. Speaker. Even big 
dates, 1929 and the stock market crash or 1930 and the Smoot-Hawley 
Tariff Act, are really not that significant when looking at big trends. 
The big economic trends in the first part of our Nation's history was 
the transition from the agrarian economy to the industrial economy.

                              {time}  1945

  That was a transition that probably took 100 years. There was no 
single point where 1 day, or 1 year, America had an agrarian economy, 
and the next year it was industrialized. And single events were not 
that important. Instead, the spread of increasingly heavy machines, in 
early factories, railroads, and on farms, were key. And technologies 
always take time to go from

[[Page H621]]

invention to standardization and widespread use.
  Mr. Speaker, we are now clearly in the second transition. Heavy 
industry is no longer the king of the American economy. Instead, 
businesses, large and small, are harnessing technologies and skilled 
workers to create an economy based more on providing better service to 
customers than on the specific product itself. This has been going on 
for 20 years now. Twenty years happens to coincide with the birth of 
that political urban myth where everyone ends up with a hamburger 
flipping job. Over those 20 years, jobs are way up, incomes are way up, 
and technological improvements are spreading throughout our lives. Very 
few Americans would take the 1984 life-style outlook that they had over 
the 2004 life-style, but we have had business cycles over those 20 
years as well.
  We have had years of booming growth, we have had years of slow 
growth. We have had two actual recessions when the economy shrank. We 
have had lean times that did not fit the academic test of a recession, 
but certainly felt like a weak economy.
  In the midst of any one of those lean times, the fact that the 
economic trend over the previous decade was very good really did not 
matter much. Things were worse than the year before or the year before 
that. In addition, during the first part of the current 20-year 
economic growth trend, time had not passed enough to tell the 
difference between a trend and a cycle. The start of a trend can look a 
lot like the upside of a cycle.
  The economic slowdown that began in 2000, the final year of the 
Clinton administration, was clearly the downside of the cycle that 
began in 1992, the final year of the Presidency of George H.W. Bush. In 
the past 20 years, we had at least two cycles, one ending in a 
recession in 1991, and the other in a recession in 2001. We are almost 
certainly into a third cycle with growth again picking up.
  The U.S. economy has been growing strongly for the past 2 years. It 
grew at a staggering 8.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter of 
last year, surpassing even the most optimistic projections and marking 
the strongest pace in nearly two decades, 20 years. Unemployment claims 
are dropping, and workers' wages and benefits have climbed in recent 
months. Family incomes are up. Consumer spending is up. Inflation is 
low. The housing sector has been very strong, and business 
productivity, as we all know, has been incredibly strong.
  At this point in the business cycle, the big economic issue has been 
jobs. Remember, in the short term, we are coming off of some years like 
1999 and 2000 where unemployment reached such low levels that most 
economists could not imagine numbers so low. In that context when the 
recession and slowdown in 2001 resulted in 6 percent unemployment, it 
created real concern, especially among the recently unemployed, and 
that is understandable.
  Politics reacts far more to the short-term cycle than the long-term 
trend, so it is easy to see why everyone is talking about the struggles 
of recent years rather than the incredibly good news of the last 20 
years. But as we deal with the political realities of the short term, 
we must not lose sight of the big picture.
  The hamburger flipping job argument is not just false, it is actually 
a dangerous thing. Twenty years ago this kind of rhetoric did not get 
the chance to hurt our economy because hard-working and innovative 
Americans kept right on forging new technologies, revolutionizing what 
businesses do and how they do it, and improving the way Americans go 
about living their lives.
  But today, thanks to the short-term business cycle we are coming out 
of, the hamburger flipping argument resonates with a lot of people, and 
it is resulting in some very misguided and dangerous proposals. It is 
generating calls for protectionism, calls for policies that stifle the 
very environment that has allowed skilled American workers to harness 
new technologies and bring about our booming 21st century economy.
  Mr. Speaker, attempts to undermine the principles that are the 
foundation of this economy threaten the progress and prosperity that 
has come about over these two decades. That is why debunking the 
hamburger flipping argument once and for all is not just critical to 
understanding the good news of the last 20 years, it is essential to 
ensuring that our future remains bright as well.