Letters To The Editor For January 2006

Dec. 26, 2005
Readers got the wake-up call.

Re Editor's Page -- A Wake-up Call From Asia, January 2006

Thanks for reinforcing the notion that developing countries are not going to be satisfied with peripheral work as they have a very sophisticated workforce with a quick learning curve.

L. Fernandes
Syracuse, N.Y.

It is truly a wake-up call. We need to bring awareness and reality to the attention of everyone in order to create a sense of urgency. Education, in my opinion, is the most important element for the long run if we are to succeed.

D. Chen
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Excellent article.

I have been saying that for years now and I'm glad someone has finally put it in print.

It is truly a "Wake Up Call."

F. Baker
Winsted, Conn.

I enjoy reading your articles on China because you aren't afraid to rattle the cage with truth. That is hard to find both in this region and in our country in general when it comes to discussing China.

Many members of our organization read your pieces and forward them to me because you are saying what we have all realized long ago. It's no longer about competing against China; it's about competing with China. How do you "do China" better than anyone else? That's the goal.

Thanks for the effort -- I believe it's patriotic to alert your countrymen that they need to remove their blinders. It's probably unpopular to the majority... but you get our support!

K Kirkendall
Cleveland, Ohio
[The organization is the China Resource Network,

Completely disagree with this article. We do not need the government to restrict trade whatsoever. We need innovation and lean practices. China's monetary policy will neutralize itself in the global markets eventually no matter what any government does. The consumers of the world will dictate who produces in the end.

If Morgan is sending work to India, then it tells me they are uncompetitive and probably in line to have their lunch eaten. Pruning the fat off them will make them improve or vanish.

A. Houser

This article is more of the same from Ms. Panchak -- specifically -- snippy admonitions (... you'd better wake up.) and vacuous statements of the obvious (...No country has a monopoly on innovation,...).

These trite annoyances are joined together in the space of two sentences -- "I believe the U.S. will maintain its leadership of global manufacturing, but there are no guarantees. We're not going to succeed if we are complacent." Hey -- if we were thinking this deeply about our manufacturing challenges, we would already be working taking orders for foreign tourists in the drive-through at some fast food place. How did she get this job, and how does she keep it? I can't believe some innovative thinker and writer from a third world nation hasn't yet taken her job away.

Alexandria, Minn.

No Fun At The Dance

Re "Brandt On Leadership -- Dollar Dance," December 2005. From the worker bees' viewpoint: The end-of-year production hockey stick curve, with Q4's mandatory overtime, no vacation period of more than two days allowed, work all during the plant shutdown week between Christmas and New Year's to get the orders on the truck (if not to the customers' dock) by Dec 31. If only the quote, "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part." could be applied! OK, I'll concede, it is better than being on the bread line.

John Williamson
Rochester, N.Y.

Manufacturers To Blame For Skills Gap

Re "Skilled Worker Shortage: It's Time To Fix The Kitchen Sink," November 2005: I have to admit that I read this story with more than a little skepticism. How can we be experiencing a shortage of skilled manufacturing labor given the number of manufacturing jobs lost just in the last five years? Most sources agree that about 2.5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since President Bush took office in 2000. These people didn't simply disappear. I'm sure many of these are highly skilled and trained individuals who would be more than willing to learn new skills or relocate in order to fill the supposed shortfall in skilled labor.

If we truly do have a skills shortage, then manufacturers have to shoulder much of the blame. How much have they invested in training new employees or in enhancing the skills of existing employees? What have they done to ensure would-be manufacturing professionals that there is a future in manufacturing and their jobs won't be outsourced or offshored leaving them with limited career options? To address the skills shortage perhaps a revival of the apprenticeship system would be something worth exploring. And by working with government toward correcting the trade and currency imbalances that drive U.S. manufacturing out of the country or cause them to go out of business, American students might be convinced that manufacturing can indeed offer a long-term, rewarding career.

Unfortunately, because we have a political establishment that fails to see the value of a strong manufacturing sector and manufacturers too focused on the short-term gains from offshoring and addicted to cheap labor, we're not likely to see any policy changes that address the problems facing manufacturing until we're at a crisis stage and by then it may be too late.

Eric Dalton, IT manager
Germantown, Tenn.

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