The force that drives the American Engine is American Manufacturing!
Over the last 50 years, the significance of American manufacturing has taken a back seat to overseas manufacturing, because of lower prices greater accessibility, and those making business decisions more focused on profit and profiteering than doing what is right for the American economy. A generation of profiteers exists today that have focused solely on lining their own pockets with money instead of leaving the country better than they found it. Employment in the manufacturing sector of the United States has been falling for at least 50 years. The portion of manufacturing employment in 1950 was about 35%, in 2004, this number is a staggering 13%, and 2010 this number is 5.95% (Fisher, 2004). The American engine cannot sustain itself without a strong manufacturing base.
Combine this history lesson with the negative effects of NAFTA (Prizinsky, 1997), the industrial foreign trade policy that attempted to balance the trade between Mexico, Canada and the United States. Robert Scott (2001) writing for the Economic Policy Institute addresses on why NAFTA core principles that better supported the 50 years of the strategic industrial growth policies of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and China. In this Asian model, the mentioned countries protected their industries; they invest heavily in manufacturing process research and employee education, and subsidize R&D investment (Scott, 2001). This strategy represented the complete opposite of what occurred in the United States (Scott, 2001). NAFTA opened up the borders, opened up world manufacturing markets, and the profiteers took advantage of it by driving manufacturing to foreign soils. Unfortunately, for every action, there is an opposite reaction, and when profiteers sole focus is on profiteering, than doing what is right for the American economy, created a catastrophic economic failure that we are experiencing today.
Once in history, a generation of entrepreneurs existed in our American societies, which once always focused on leaving the country better than they found it, these people were called “The Greatest Generation.”. Unfortunately, that philosophy is very rare in the mindset of the American current profiteers; greed is the sole motivation, making manufacturing jobs for American’s is not. We hold this failure to be the responsibility of the American higher education process. Higher academics those institutions training our generation today that it’s okay to want the bigger toys, to make lots of money, to win at all risk and to never look back. There are no rules, no obligation to society, and here we are. This winning-it-at-all-risk philosophy promoted today in higher academics has set up the American catastrophic economy.
The solutions are complex because the philosophy is so deeply embedded today in the top business schools, but not impossible to fix. To turn around and change this philosophy will require a generation of students who will be focused more on leaving the country better than they find it, focusing on long-term results instead of short-term profiteering. This mindset embedded in today’s society will be difficult to overcome, however as long as people are thinking about it, people are writing about it, and people are focused on the big picture. The big picture is manufacturing in this country is important to the sustainability of our great nation, the necessary change will happen. A next Greatest Generation of students focusing on what is right, for the entire community must take precedence.
Short-term solution, place tariffs on all foreign made products, level the world manufacturing markets playing field, this will give American manufacturing a fair chance.
Long-term solution, promoting philosophy change in higher academics, that will encourage a generation of students who will be focused on leaving the country better than they find it (Savo, 2004).
Fisher, E. (2004). “Why are We Losing Manufacturing Jobs?” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Economic Commentary, July 2004.
Savo, P. (2004). Holistic Business Solutions (HBS)™. Mont Vernon Group’s ROI Five Step Process from http://www.montvernongroup.org/business-fix.htm
Scott, R. E. (2001). Fast Track to Lost Jobs: Trade Deficits and Manufacturing Decline Are the Legacies of NAFTA and the WTO. Briefing Paper. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.