How Do We Rebuild Manufacturing in America?

First of all the class warfare and political demagoguery must stop. We all need to work together to support American free enterprise. Private sector success is what made this country great. Free men and women with ideas, dreams and ambition built this great country. The resulting prosperity is what transformed the world.

If we want to reinvigorate domestic manufacturing we must take meaningful steps to rebuild a pro-business climate in America once again. We need to do the following:

1) Develop domestic energy: The idea we can’t access our own petroleum and fossil fuel resources is utterly insane. The environmental concerns are entirely political and unwarranted because we can extract and produce energy responsibly. Besides energy, it’s about producing raw materials as well. Plastics are derived from oil and are in just about every common consumer product as well as having countless industrial uses. Plastics help raise and sustain our high living standards and it saves lives.

2) Restore balance between labor and industry: It’s utterly absurd that a line worker should earn a comparable wage to someone who has greater strategic value to a business. Those who have much higher qualifications technical or otherwise which they acquired through hard work and personal sacrifice should be compensated commensurate with their value to the organization. All professions have a fair market value on a global level. When we ignore those values because we want everyone to be paid like Donald Trump, we render our industries noncompetitive. Aspiring to excel, to be competitive and to be best qualified in one’s profession of choice should mean something again in America. If you’re willing to go the extra mile you should be rewarded accordingly.

3) Educational reform: Our educational system is simply not producing qualified professionals for our workforce. That must change if we are to compete successfully. The anti-free market climate and the vilification of ‘profit’ must stop in our schools. Our children need to know that government is not the answer. As free individuals they are the solution. They need to be told it’s noble to pursue your own interest and not be a burden on society. They need to be told it’s Okay to succeed!

4) Get government out of our way: Self-evident!

Many will argue we’ll never bring back manufacturing because of the cheap labor overseas. I would argue that this is not the right way to look at the situation. Sure, cheap labor provides the ability to produce some merchandise at a competitive price, but labor cost is only one facet of a complex multi-facetted problem the solution for which requires innovation across all facets.

The media talks about manufacturing, as if all manufacturing are the same. Nothing is further from the truth. There are countless industries out there all with their own unique set of problems and needs. For example the manufacture of toys, cars, health care products, consumer electronics, apparel, consumables or the litany of industrial products all have different pricing, quality considerations, manufacturing requirements, regulatory issues and customer needs. To the casual observer there may be similarities, but the differences in the respective industries are stark and cannot be put into the same bucket.

Regarding domestic manufacturing jobs, the socialist policies of Europe and Japan have driven their labor needs to America. Today, BMW, VW, Mercedes Benz, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru all have production in America. On the other hand, the low prices Americans have enjoyed on countless consumer products have driven their production to China and elsewhere around the world. The point is we cannot paint with a broad brush. Today we function in a global economy and the supply chain for most industries are global and their receivables come from both domestic and international customers.

It’s crucial we support American companies that conduct business abroad because their revenues create jobs at home, their company profits enrich pension plans and these companies contribute to America’s GDP and our balance of trade. For example, Hasbro and Mattel have customers around the world. Their international operations need to be cost efficient for them to be profitable. That includes locating manufacturing, warehousing and distribution in strategic networks around the world to best service all their customers effeciently.

America is all about innovation and generating new solutions. Creativity remains the key to our success and ultimately our ability to invent and discover innovative solutions will be the answer to our economy. It’s no accident American industries hold more patents than any other country on Earth. We’re certainly no smarter yet we lead the world in technological innovation… why? The answer is remarkably simple: “America has been the freest society on Earth where anyone with a dream and ambition can succeed regardless of social status”. As an immigrant American who grew up in Asia, Africa and Europe, I know the American entrepreneurial spirit is truly remarkable and is at the core of America’s exception.

But we need to stop demonizing success. We must not allow the spirit of American entrepreneurialism to be stifled. Growth can only happen when enterprises are not shackled and burdened with over regulation and beaurocratic road blocks. And as for bringing manufacturing back to America? We are a CAN DO people, and if we change course and return to common sense free market principles, American entrepreneurs will continue to invent new ways to lead the world in business. New manufacturing paradigms will emerge to make America competitive once again. The only prerequisite, however, is government must step aside and let a free people be free.

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4 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Politics & Economics

4 responses to “How Do We Rebuild Manufacturing in America?

  1. Dexter, your assessment and observations are so precisely on-target. Having been in manufacturing for 21 years, most recently owning and operating a custom point of purchase (POP) display and trade show exhibit business, I can tell you that we were able to stay alive because the deadlines in the POP and Trade Show world are so tight – the only thing on a custom manufacturing job that DOESN’T change is the deadline. That kept China at bay – but those days are going as the Pacific Ocean “shrinks”. I say “shrinks” in the respect that instead of waiting months for product to arrive on a freight liner that has been getting loaded up for 3 months as custom product is produced by one factory, brokers have figured out that if they set up shop in China and bring together a multitude of Chinese manufacturers, they can fill a freight liner in a week, and get it to the US within a reasonable amount of time.

    What do we do to get manufacturing back to the US? I think trade tariffs on foreign products that are directly proportional to the trade deficit with each nation is a great start in keeping more work here in the US. You also touched on labor – we had unions nosing around our break area one day speaking with the 40 or so assembly workers about organizing. I had a supervisor come to my office and tell me about it and the response was simple – if the people who I employ want their jobs, then they cannot possibly unionize because the marketplace for what we make is so competitive, that I would not be able to pay them, and I would close my doors.

    Getting government out of the way is a key factor, and while you gave it very little space in your column, the matter really is as simple as you state. However, and might I add that I’ve served as a RI State Representative for the past 2 years, there is absolutely no appetite in that building to get out of the way of businesses. There is a mindset in the progressives – who have made great strides in getting their membership up in the House, that if you own a business, you must be rich, therefore, you should pay more to the government. More fees, more surcharges, more taxes, more everything. It’s the most naive approach to a problem that none of those progressives understand. If they think that taxing people who earn over $100,000 each year as being “rich” is a solution, then they are living on another planet (that was an actual budget amendment). The people who have worked hard for their whole lives and EARNED wealth – regardless of how much, are entitled to keep what they earn and pay the same as everyone else. That is one of the lost points on our progressive friends – when you compare our neighboring states, and other states in the south to RI, there is no reason for a successful businessperson to stay in this state. They will lose a lion share of what they’ve amassed. I do not know how “wealth” and “success” have become dirty words.

    The points you laid out in your piece are a road map to revitalizing our manufacturing base. We would do well to see manufacturing as vital to an overall healthy economic country.

    • Mike, Clearly we agree. I would add that unfortunately our porgressive friends (your words not mine) completely miss what is necessary to turn the ship around. The trouble is the left’s view of the how things should be is antithetical to basic American values of hard work, family, faith, self-reliance and the importance of having the dignity of attending to one’s own business so that you are not a burden to society. Our traditional American values have been constantly under assult by them arguably for a century and they have done very real damage. Elisbeth Warren’s speech at the DNC convention said it all. She is clearly a Marxist and she speaks for the party! When Obama said, “you didn’t build that…” to me that really said it all. What they believe is fundamentally un-American. I believe Obama, Warren and the progressive left have deeply seeded contempt for our Constitution. I believe the President really meant, “You don’t own that…” because in his mind all wealth belongs to the “collective,” and it is the state role to decide how the wealth shall be distributed. If you are a student of history, you will know where I’m coming from. This is very scary stuff. Clearly the progressives in our GA have a similar agenda. Arguing that what they push is unsustainable is a waste of time. They clearly don’t care. The progressives really need to be defeated at the ballot box. Until such time as voters are awake enough to the absolute devastation the left have wrought on our economy, and real suffering is palpable and personal, nothing will change. I for one believe it’s getting close to that time. Keep up the good fight we need all the good folks in the GA firing on all cylinders!

  2. Great posting on How Do We Rebuild Manufacturing in America?
    | Dexter’s Corner..
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    at in a very long time

    • Thanks for the kind words. We must get over the “class envy” that infest our culture and diminishes America in this the most divisive political climate in my life time. As Americans, we’re all in this together and the freemarket system has unequivocally lifted the standards of living and the liberty of more human beings than any other system in human history. I always think about the word’s of my father who was a life-long public servent as a career military man retiring as Rear Admiral of the Nationalist Chinese Navy, later as Ambassador to Sierra Leone, West Aftrica, Vice minister of African Affairs during and through the abolishion of apartite in South Africa and as Ambassador by special appointment to the Hague, The Netherlands. He said, “I have learned that in humanity, we can try to help people in charitable ways all we want and those efforts are noble, but unless and until we get the politics right, nothing will matter…”

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