Is 'Made in America' a Good Strategy?

July 13, 2010
Looking for a U.S. strategy

The U.S. Needs an "Advanced Manufacturing Plan"

I think the plan for action is desperately needed to save the remnants of manufacturing we do have and maybe encourage new industries. The first thing we have to have is capital, to start and run a business. We who are running businesses right now are almost to the wall with lack of sales, two years of almost no returns and constantly fighting the bank. I can't imagine what it would be like for two guys in flannel shirts and John Deere caps to go in the bank and explain about their flying machine today.

We need industrial incubators, initially state or fed-funded but later [funded] from a payback from the successful to get new people going. We need low- or no-cost loans to get new machinery into older plants to make them competitive. We need limits on ownership to ensure that we are supporting owner-operators, not absentee hedge fund managers in New York. If we do these kinds of loans and the business is sold within five years, we get our money back with interest.

What has killed manufacturing is not the workers or the unions, it's absentee owners not willing to spend and innovate. Many times a new machine could be bought that would increase production by a third after the two-year write off. However, the people who want their quarterly bonus or need to keep the stock price up to sell the company will not do it.

So the company will continue to lag behind and lose value.

Our companies face a mountain of EPA and OSHA regulations and nothing wrong with that. We all want clean air and a safe place to work. It is a competitive disadvantage with countries that choose not to do this, and therefore it is not free and balanced trade. We should impose an appropriate tax, say 5% or 10%, on those countries' imports, until they operate under the same standards as we do. That's Fair Trade!

Small- and medium-size business provide 50% to 75% of the new jobs in this country. So any effort should be directed their way immediately to get people a job and money in their pocket. If people are working the consumer confidence goes up, they spend and now our economy -- which is 70% consumer-driven -- gets better. Also President Obama will have a much better chance of getting elected!

I'm sick of hearing about Ford and Dow. I want to hear about Joe the Plumber and Nick the Electrician. These are the people we need to get help to. -- amadeus

Why Pursue "Made in America"?

I think manufacturing in the U.S. is very much alive. I will pass on a piece of information from a very well-known professor I worked with. He has had many years [of] experience consulting for some of the largest manufacturing companies in the world. His question to engineering students was this ... "What does the U.S. still have to offer?" It is not education; many countries study harder than us. It is not hard work, or money. While we still need all of those things, the main thing we still have to offer is our creativity.

This is the one resource that the U.S. still dominates, and if someone is looking to invest in a U.S. manufacturing company I would make sure that they are creative and have the ability to develop creative designs. That is how the U.S. can compete, and those are the manufacturing facilities that are still very profitable. -- PaulR

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