Could Manufacturing Save the U.S. Economy?


This morning I read yet another article on the decline of manufacturing jobs, this time in Spain. I’ll admit that the idea of Spain having a problem with jobs of any sort boggles my mind a bit, mostly because I think of Spain more as a vacation destination than a world leader in the industrial sector.

There is a vast majority of U. S. citizens who believe that if we moved our industrial jobs back to this country, it would be a huge boost in the economy. Not overnight, mind you. I am so sick of reports of monthly woes, as if history is played out one month at a time. It isn’t. It’s over the course of years, hundreds of years, thousands of years. Yet we live in a consumerist society where instant gratification is the goal we seek. I know – you’ve heard all this before.

photo courtesy of zazzle.com

President Obama promised change, and yet his first order of business was to try to save the economy from complete destruction and a second depression in this country that, in my opinion, we could never have survived as a whole. Today’s society is not adept at sacrifice, at survival. Whining, complaining – yes. A country boy can survive, as my dear singer Hank Jr. once sang, but the United States is not the substantially rural country it was back then. There aren’t enough country boys or girls out there to keep it going.

I also think that Obama did a good thing in bailing out the banks. I’m not saying the banks deserved it; they did not. The American people, however, were just as guilty as the banks and other corporations who abused wealth and power; the American people signed their lives away on homes, cars, boats, vacations, credit cards – you name it. Therefore, since the average American could not survive a depression that already crippled this country, Obama did what he had to do to prevent that.

The question is, now what? How do we not only save the economy for the next ten years or so, but how do we build America into what it used to be, as far as industry is concerned?

We do exactly what no politician or businessman in his or her right mind would do – we take back the jobs we send to China and India, Taiwan and the Philippines – we hurt ourselves to save the country from collapse.

We complain about the power China has, both financially and militarily – and yet we gave it to them! Corporations knew the Chinese would work for next to nothing, so they sent jobs there and saved a boatload on their spreadsheets. And if China workers would do it, what about those Indians and small countries? Bring on the big bucks!

So, I decided to do a little research because I’m fully aware I’m not an expert. There’s the government’s take, which, well, you can take with a grain of salt as far as I’m concerned! Something interesting I found is that according to the U.S. Census Bureau it looks like our entire manufacturing exports are based on food and livestock! At least, almost entirely, because there were no other areas mentioned. Wowza.

The Wall Street Journal published a story three days ago about an “uptick” in U.S. manufacturing, but wasn’t pleased with this: “The celebrated revival of U.S. manufacturing employment has been accompanied by a less-lauded fact: Wages for many manufacturing workers aren’t keeping up with inflation.”

Um, duh! How many of you out there in whatever job you have feel that your salaries are keeping up with inflation? Hmmm….none of you? Here’s another tidbit from the article that would have made me chuckle if it wasn’t so ridiculous: “”The U.S. has held manufacturing wages in check while there has been strong wage growth in China and moderate wage growth in Mexico,” says economist Gordon Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, referring to two of the U.S.’s biggest lower-wage competitors.”

China and Mexico could increase their wages and it still wouldn’t compete with what workers were making in the United States just ten years ago. They had better benefits than many of us with a college education, and often higher pay as well. I know kids who worked in a mill near where I went to college because it paid better than any other job in town. They were a lot more well-off than I was, even when I was working two jobs and going to school full-time. So, I’m very sorry, Mr. Hanson, but your reasoning sounds really stupid to me.

Here’s a tip: why don’t we build up manufacturing jobs here in the U.S. and then, over time, as the economy improves, increase wages for workers?

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