Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our Economy’s Only Hope - Reviving Manufacturing in America

Today is a mournful day. Something precious died on this date. Not John Lennon, although his untimely death robbed the world of a great artist. No, something far more valuable was killed unnecessarily: the future of America’s prosperity. Today marks the day that the North American Free Trade Act was signed by President Bill Clinton.
This bill, more than any other single piece of legislation, is to blame for our current economic woes, for its signing was the beginning of our national decline. Almost all of the high unemployment and record levels of poverty that we’re currently enduring can point to this day as its genesis. Even worse is the political attitude that brought this horrible bill into being: that America can give away it’s prosperity to other nations (wealth redistribution, as it’s otherwise known) without negatively affecting her.

We now know that is impossible.

So, what can we do about this mistake? Well, first we must acknowledge that we made one. While this will prove a daunting task for the political elite, the average American already knows it. The millions of Americans currently out of work certainly know that something is wrong. An entire sector of the economy is gone, some say never to return.

A generation of Americans can recall when their fathers and mothers had “factory jobs” that put them through college. However, all they can do is remember. Now, those same parents have nothing to do because we’ve needlessly eliminated a formerly vibrant sector of the economy.

I have some very unpleasant memories of this day in 1993. Within a week, I was laid off as the owners of the manufacturing plant where I worked announced that they were relocating to Mexico. What a lovely present to receive right before the Holidays! Some 45 people lost their jobs, and for what? To enrich another country? Really?

The questions we all had back then were, “If Mexico wants industry, why don’t they do it themselves? Why have we been sold out by our own government? If they can make products so much cheaper, why aren’t they already doing so?”

Why, indeed?

Have we not shown the world how to do things for their own benefit by now? As the world’s oldest republic, have we not demonstrated through our actions and our national will that any country can succeed if their people are free? Why give our wealth away when there is no need to do so? Cannot other nations duplicate our success, therefore elevating their people and subsequently, mankind, on their own?

This sort of “soft bigotry of low expectations” is extremely condescending and has no place among adults, specifically those in charge of entire countries. To live in the mature world, we must demand that same maturity from others. Who wants to be treated like a child, especially on the world stage? No one that I would care to deal with, how about you?

It’s curious to note that those who advocate the notion of diversity somehow don’t think that it’s necessary in the job market. Oh, yeah, they want a diversity of the workforce, but how about addressing the natural diversity in people’s abilities. Why restrict our economy, when, if true diversity is the goal, we shouldn’t have it in the job market. Not everyone is cut out for college. That doesn’t mean that they are less intelligent than anyone else is. This may come as a shock to the political elites, but there are many Americans who are smart enough to go to college, but would rather work with their hands.

If you wish to become a machinist, for example, there’s a lot that you need to know in order to do your job. You need to know physics, metallurgy, geometry, and trigonometry and also have excellent communication skills in order to maintain an orderly flow of information in the workplace. These skills can also be learned in college, but in manufacturing, there is the added reward of tangibility; you can hold your work in your hand. Many times, you can understand that you’ve just helped someone else to make their life a little easier. You’ve made money and helped someone else in the process.

What’s not to like?

While those of us who were in manufacturing and now aren’t know what has been lost, others are just now waking up to the facts. Articles like this and this are sadly heartening, for, if enough people recognize that we’ve done a disservice to the nation by willfully abandoning a productive economic sector, we can reverse course and begin to make products in America once more.

This will doubtless require that we drag the ruling elite along, kicking and screaming. They must overcome their natural tendency to denigrate those of us who wish to work with our hands. Failing that, we need to replace them with others who recognize the value that our manufacturing sector once provided. They must also ignore the cries of nationalism and protectionism that will be hurled at them from others who would rather steal than work.

We must take control of our destiny again and show the world how it’s done.

Let’s get serious about diversifying our economy and set our sights on restoring our manufacturing base. It was once the foundation of our country and can be again.

No comments: