Reaction to the 'Wrong Path'

Exploring the vitality of U.S. manufacturing

Your article [First Up: "The Wrong Path," Nov. 2010] is on target. In the Northeast, we've seen textile manufacturing all but disappear, including the manufacturers of military uniforms and military combat clothing. Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts were, as recently as the early 1990s, the leading manufacturing areas for all lines of jewelry. Many plants moved to the South and then to Mexico and then, gone. Where we once trained most public school students in the value and benefits of manufacturing, we now encourage them to become cubicle rats. The generation of highly skilled machinists, manufacturing designers and true value-added processing is almost gone. The real ha-ha is our supposed Lean Manufacturing. The "supply chain" has many weak and missing links. Lead time for all but the lowest-common-denominator consumer goods has tripled, resulting in loss of sales, loss of productivity and loss of an economic foundation.

I'm all for using technology to improve production and reduce costs, but we're risking national security and the future of the country. At this rate, China becomes the dominant economic engine and America spirals to a Third World category in 20 years or less.

Tom McClintock, CPIM
McClintock Enterprises of Boston
Norwood, Mass.

"The Wrong Path" cites several individuals who share a common opinion that the problem with manufacturing is lack of a national policy, presumably overseen by the government. Mr. Hindery says 90% of the cost differential with China is subsidy, currency manipulation, environmental practices run amok, and labor practices that are deplorable.

I agree. The U.S. subsidizes everything that works alternative energy into its name in addition to numerous existing industries. The Federal Reserve announced the purchase of $500 billion in long-term Treasuries. The EPA and state regulatory bodies make getting an operating permit for any activity involving resource development or manufacturing a time-consuming ordeal. Added to the myriad labor laws starting with The National Labor Relations Act in the 1930s, our own policies are perfectly capable of creating such an uncompetitive climate. Our first order of business is to recognize the magnitude of our own hypocrisy.

As Goethe once wrote, "None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who think they are free."

William Fink
Via the Internet

I have a small tool and die business with all my machines having computers for controls, one manual surface grinder and a very old gear tester. For our size we may be one of the best equipped shops in this country. With that said, my son-in-law, who teaches at a university, said to my wife, "This country will be better off when businesses like yours are gone." He did not think that up by himself; I have heard that before. The president said to Joe the Plumber that we need to spread the wealth. What makes you think that he only intended to spread the wealth within the USA? Bill Clinton said about NAFTA that we will get rid of dirty, low-paying jobs and bring in clean, high-paying jobs. Toolmakers in this area are making about $20 plus benefits per hour. Who in his right mind would become a toolmaker for that?

The decision has been made to export most manufacturing and it's not news.

Factories I deal with use coolant oils and chemicals; they have machines that are dangerous. We don't want them in this country. The president has made major programs about everything else, but what has he done to keep manufacturing?

I think we need to teach that only producers pay taxes. All people dealing with services collect taxes. That might let some better understand why we need manufacturing.

Jim Ream
Via the Internet

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