In an op-ed published on The Huffington Post, Leo Hindery, Chairman of the Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation, explains “Why We Need a Manufacturing Renaissance – Economically and Ethically.”
“Anyone deeply concerned about the current almost unprecedented real unemployment rate of more than 18 percent and about the ongoing jobless recovery must first focus on resuscitating our depleted manufacturing sector,” wrote Hindery. “America’s economy, social cohesion and dignity, and Americans’ optimism – in short, America’s traditional strength – all rest on a thriving middle class which in turn rests on a thriving manufacturing sector.”
Hindery says the U.S. must focus on its approach to trade, particularly toward China, if it is to rebuild its manufacturing capabilities and compete globally. The first step is to create a strong U.S. manufacturing policy. He points out that 19 members of the G-20 have very precise national manufacturing and industrial policies. America alone does not.
“By not having our own manufacturing and industrial policy and by persisting with corporate tax policies that are in conflict with the objective of having a robust domestic manufacturing sector, between 1998 and 2010 we lost approximately six million manufacturing jobs overseas, with more than two million of these occurring from 2007-2009,” said Hindery. “In just the years between 2002 and 2006, China added 11 million manufacturing jobs to its rolls, which are as many manufacturing jobs as we now have left in total in America.”
China’s manufacturing policy – though very much illegal – has been highly effective, says Hindery. The country has surpassed Japan in becoming the world’s second-largest economy, passed Germany as the world’s biggest exporter, and will likely knock the U.S. off its top spot as the world’s biggest economy by 2030.
“We have benignly and actively neglected this sector for far too long,” writes Hindery. “And regardless of who wins the 2012 election, we need to focus on these manufacturing, trade and education-related issues if we want to have a healthy, vibrant, ethically sound nation moving forward.”