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Manufacturing is powerful. And power is coveted. That’s why mother America always loved manufacturing most. Since the early days of this country, visionary political leaders like Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln nurtured manufacturing. That’s because manufacturing sustains a country’s economic strength. And the capacity to manufacture secures a nation’s military might. So President Obama’s focus on reviving American manufacturing, including his proposal last week to give American manufacturers a small tax break, is wise, even if the service sector sister and banker brother feel aggrieved as a result.

There’s just something about manufacturing. Ask Rosie the Riveter. Ask the computer geeks and artists across America who create “Hacker Space” workshops to help each other invent and fabricate to their imaginations’ content.

Yeah, it’s cool to make stuff. The “maker,” whether an inventor or engineer or welder gets a thrill out of performing work that results in visible, viable products.  Manufacturing also gives the “makers” the feeling of empowerment that can be seen all over Rosie the Riveter’s face.

Manufacturing is powerful. And power is coveted. That’s why mother America always loved manufacturing most. Since the early days of this country, visionary political leaders like Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln nurtured manufacturing. They knew manufacturing builds a country’s economic strength. And the capacity to manufacture secures a nation’s military might. So President Obama’s focus on reviving American manufacturing, including his proposal last week to give American manufacturers a small tax break, is wise, even if the banking brother and service sector sister feel aggrieved as a result.

President Obama said in his State of the Union address that his goal was to forge an economy built to last. That, he said, would be based on American manufacturing and American know-how, American-made energy and skilled American workers.

Since then, he has talked up his plans to reinvigorate manufacturing during several factory tours. At Master Lock in Milwaukee, Wis., he applauded the company for bringing 100 jobs back to America from overseas.  The tax code should reflect that, the President said. He proposed the government give tax breaks to companies that on-shore jobs, instead of granting them to those that offshore.

It’s illogical, even unpatriotic to use tax dollars to subsidize companies that send jobs overseas, transferring America’s manufacturing power to foreign countries like China.

Later, in Everett, Wash., President Obama lauded The Boeing Co. for manufacturing planes in America. Orders for Boeing’s commercial aircraft rose by more than 50 percent last year, and it hired 13,000 Americans.

During a tour of the plant where Boeing manufactures its 787 Dreamliner, the President said:

“We can’t go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.”
While Wall Street’s financial gambling took down the nation’s economy, the solid, steady, circumspect practices of manufacturers are facilitating recovery. No wonder manufacturing is the favored child.

Manufacturing, Obama pointed out, supports jobs throughout the economy, from mines to machines shops to malls. At the Boeing plant, he said:

“Every Dreamliner that rolls off the assembly line here in Everett supports thousands of jobs in different industries all across the country. Parts of the fuselage are manufactured in South Carolina and Kansas. Wing edges, they come from Oklahoma. Engines are assembled in Ohio. The tail fin comes from right down the road in Frederickson.”
In addition, those supply chain factory workers, whose jobs pay about eight percent more than comparable ones outside manufacturing,support service sector jobs in their communities.

All of that explains the government loans to car manufacturers GM and Chrysler. It would have been devastating for the country to lose the industrial might and capacity of GM and Chrysler. In addition, at risk were 150,000 jobs at the two carmakers and untold hundreds of thousands of other manufacturing jobs at car part factories across the country and at real estate offices and restaurants and retailers.

Four years later, GM and Chrysler are profitable, repaying the loans with interest, and hiring workers. Still, the number of jobs at the Big Three auto companies is down by about 150,000 over the past five years, reflecting the overall job losses in manufacturing in America. Over the past 40 years, manufacturing employment declined from 25 percent to 9 percent, as manufacturing output fell from 25 percent of GDP to 12 percent.

Some of that loss is unavoidable as robots replace humans, but economist Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says, “a lot of it has to do with bad policy.” The government picks winners and losers all the time with tax policy and subsidies and other measures. “It’s just not very smart about it,” Bernstein says. For example, it provides billions in subsidies to corporations to move jobs offshore.

A report called “Why Does Manufacturing Matter” by the Brookings Institution says government traditionally fostered manufacturing:

“History also reveals. . .there is no transformative investment that reshaped our economy, from railroads to the Internet, where the federal government did not partner with the private sector to overcome . . . barriers. . .To ignore this reality in the name of “not picking winners” . . .or whatever misguided ideology you want to plug in, is to concede global competition to those unburdened by such dangerously wrongheaded thinking.”
President Obama believes that. His mantra over the past two months has been:
“I want us to make stuff.”
And he openly admits the nation has a favored child, saying:
“Manufacturing has a special place in America.”

Originally posted to Leo W Gerard on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 08:01 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

Poll

It’s illogical, even unpatriotic to use tax dollars to subsidize companies that send jobs overseas, transferring America’s manufacturing power to foreign countries like China.

92%49 votes
7%4 votes

| 53 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Trouble is, manufacturing needs less low-skill (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey

    labor and the trend will only accelerate.  Good jobs for engineers and specialized technicians but not much to help the devastated lower middle class.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 08:17:38 AM PST

    •  Stiglitz on American jobs. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frank Knarf, bumbi

      Nobel Economics winner Joseph Stiglitz's recent piece on American jobs is indispensable reading.

      The gist: manufacturing has gotten so efficient here, and so cheap in other countries, that a lot of people who would've worked in US manufacturing in the past are now "surplus."

      Stiglitz says this is like the Great Depression--agriculture got way more efficient in the early 20th century, creating a lot of "surplus" workers who until then would've worked on farms.

      Stiglitz's prescription:

      The good news (in a sense) is that the United States has under-invested in infrastructure, technology, and education for decades, so the return on additional investment is high, while the cost of capital is at an unprecedented low. If we borrow today to finance high-return investments, our debt-to-G.D.P. ratio—the usual measure of debt sustainability—will be markedly improved. If we simultaneously increased taxes—for instance, on the top 1 percent of all households, measured by income—our debt sustainability would be improved even more.

      The private sector by itself won’t, and can’t, undertake structural transformation of the magnitude needed—even if the Fed were to keep interest rates at zero for years to come. The only way it will happen is through a government stimulus designed not to preserve the old economy but to focus instead on creating a new one. We have to transition out of manufacturing and into services that people want—into productive activities that increase living standards, not those that increase risk and inequality. To that end, there are many high-return investments we can make. Education is a crucial one—a highly educated population is a fundamental driver of economic growth. Support is needed for basic research. Government investment in earlier decades—for instance, to develop the Internet and biotechnology—helped fuel economic growth. Without investment in basic research, what will fuel the next spurt of innovation? Meanwhile, the states could certainly use federal help in closing budget shortfalls. Long-term economic growth at our current rates of resource consumption is impossible, so funding research, skilled technicians, and initiatives for cleaner and more efficient energy production will not only help us out of the recession but also build a robust economy for decades. Finally, our decaying infrastructure, from roads and railroads to levees and power plants, is a prime target for profitable investment.

      The second conclusion is this: If we expect to maintain any semblance of “normality,” we must fix the financial system.

      http://www.vanityfair.com/...

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 10:04:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is true (0+ / 0-)

      But if 50,000 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. hadn't closed over the past decade, there would be more jobs here of both high and low skill.

  •  May I suggest you start (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    luckydog

    your posts with WHO you are.  Most people on Daily Kos may not know you are and how important (and outspoken you have been) to collective bargaining in America.

    Please come back and post more.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 02:49:26 PM PST

  •  Manufacturing is as important as Andrew Grove says (0+ / 0-)

    I concur with most of what is said, but possibly on a deeper level. Fundamentally as Grove ( co founder of Intel ) says, once you have done the R&D, the product and manufacturing process, the software coding, in tangible products, if you do not manufacture the actual product, considerable ( or huge ) economic activity ( to feed many families in your own country / company ) is lost, if outsourced offshored etc.

    Andrew Grove wrote a superb Op/Ed on the topic at Business Week, linked here, entitled

    How America Can Create Jobs...

    http://www.businessweek.com/...

    Andy is an immigrant, grateful to his adopted country, and a leader of sound mind, and thoughtful insight into actual leadership, both of company and country - to his fellow citizens. I had to good fortune to work at Intel, and I'd say it is superbly run on many levels of perspective.

    Good jobs come from great products, and superb leadership and civic pride and responsbility of substance.

  •  Mens et manus (0+ / 0-)

    as we say back at the 'Tute: mind and hands.

    Innovation's important -- don't get me wrong!!! -- but making and building things is ultimately where the value gets added.

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