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Manufacturing Renaissance In The Rust Belt

Hiring is up in the rust belt. Could tried and true American manufacturing bring back America’s economy?

Workers at a Cleveland steel press. (AP)

Workers get ready to pull a piece of forged steel to be used in a heavy load helicopter out of a giant press at SifCo Industries in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP)

After years of downsizing and off-shoring, “American manufacturing” has come to sound like an oxymoron to a lot of Americans.

But the buzz this season is about a manufacturing renaissance. Factories opening, reopening. New production lines. More work.

While the overall U.S. economy grew 1.9 percent in the first quarter, manufacturing grew more than 9 percent.

A “shining star” they’re calling it. Of course, that growth is from a battered baseline. And the wages now? Way down. But still…

This hour On Point: the buzz, again, around American manufacturing, and what’s really going on.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Peter Coy, Economics editor and senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek

Susan Helperprofessor of economics at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University

Thomas Runiewicz, economist with the U.S. industry practice of IHS Global Insight

Ben Suarez, founder and chief executive of Suarez Corporation Industries.


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  • Roger Runnalls

    Could tried and true American manufacturing bring back America’s economy?

    Really?  Not unless you’re willing to work for 40¢ an hour.  This discussion might have been more meaningful back in 1993 before Clinton signed NAFTA.

    Clinton while signing the NAFTA bill stated: “…NAFTA means jobs.
    American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn’t believe that, I
    wouldn’t support this agreement.”

    How’d that work out for us Bill?

    • Cory

      Brilliant and insightful comment.  I swear I came here to post the exact same comment when I saw yours!

      I don’t think I’d assign all the blame to Bill Clinton or any other single politician though.  I think this is all the inevitable result of the marriage of capitalism and globalization.  Labor across the globe is being suppressed by the impoverished hordes of China, India, and Africa.

      So yes…  “Jobs” are returning.  They are just non-union, low wage, and with little or no benefits at all.  The American dream long dead, the American civilization in decline, the American citizen compelled to accept less for him/herself and their progeny.  

      • Ryan H

        Cory,

        You sound as if all Americans are entitled to great paying, great benefits, union employment.  Am I wrong?

        I don’t feel the American dream is dead.  My wife and I live a great life with great incomes.  I’d like to see people take more responsibility of there lives and stop blaming others for there problems.  If you are not trying to improve yourself everyday you get what you deserve.

        • http://richardsnotes.org Richard

          While I don’t fully agree with Ryan H he does have a point. The US seems to have an epidemic of “professional victims” and while not everyone who’s doing badly is a conspiracy theorist, it sure is convenient to blame everyone but yourself for your lot.

          That said, one big thing all of us should agree on is that medical care should be a given in such a rich and “developed” country. If we had medicare for everyone that would be one large piece of the puzzle put in place. I say this as one who has excellent medical insurance now and I’ve had it for much of my life.

          • fishmonger

            I agree. We have a family of 4, my wife and I who are both 29 and in great health, and two small children, neither of which has any medical problems (thank god). Our health insurance is $20k a year, of which I pay $8k out of pocket (on a salary of $66k).

            All the debate over tax policy is absurd. I contribute more for health insurance than I do for all taxes combined (state, federal, property taxes and sales tax).

            Without a doubt the greatest threat to my generation is health insurance costs, which HC reform did nothing to address.

          • Nicholas Bodley

            Fishmonger said:
            “…health insurance costs, which HC reform did nothing to address.”

            When health care is primarily for profit, there’s less incentive for all of us to stay healthy. As Dr. Atul Gawande pointed out in The New Yorker some time back, in some places a lot of unnecessary medical procedures are done essentially to make more money.

            Greed is still exalted; it’s still sacred. That’s true even when we are ill — that’s a great source of profit.

          • ThresherK

            Some places, like McAllen TX? I thought Tort Reform fixed everything! (Yes, I’m kidding.)

          • Ryan H

            Nicholas,

            There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a profit in the health industry.  Maybe if the left had their way we would go after all of the industries essential to life that make profits such as the Food, Water, Electrical, & Clothing industries.  How dare they make a profit!  Sorry to sound so course, but it sets me off when I hear people bitching about profits.  Give me a break.  Profits make this world go around.  More important than gravity, lol.

            As far as Dr. Atul Gawande’s example about McAllen, TX where you have a group of crocked doctors, I consider that as a bad apple.  You are ALWAYS going to have some bad apples in a bunch.  Let’s not forget about the MAJORITY of doctors that actually care about their patients.

          • Cory

            Can mankind conceive a system constructed around and fueled by a motivation other than greed, or are we trapped in this paradigm for all eternity?

          • Zing

            No.  Yes.

        • Cory

          When the American dream is available to a tiny minority of the populace, it is as good as dead.

          My grandfather worked in a can factory for 37 years.  On that income he raised 7 children and supported his wife.  He bought a new vehicle every 3-4 years and had snowmobiles and a boat.  The family always had access to healthcare and they traveled on a yearly family vacation.  He retired at 67 with a full pension and twenty years later still takes hunting and fishing trips in Canada.

          If you could get a job in that can factory today, it’d pay $9.50/hr with poor or no bennies.  Guess what- you can’t get that job anymore because the plant moved to Mexico 15 years ago.

          Keep telling yourself everything is fine and that those less fortunate than you suffer from laziness and moral failings and nothing more.  Keep believing it until the peasants show up at the palace gates with torches and pitchforks.

          • http://richardsnotes.org Richard

            I think there’s a middle ground: I’m not saying that those less fortunate than me suffer from laziness, just that some in that group put a lot of energy into blaming others and if they took that energy and did something a bit more constructive with it they might improve things for themselves.

        • Jim in Omaha

           I believe his point is that unless our economy has viable employment opportunities for lower skill, less educated people who are willing to work hard, it is fatally flawed.  I think you would agree that statistics show that around half of the population is dumber than average.  I say that not to be insulting, but to make the point that a large number of people, regardless of their education and experience, will never be able to do many of the good-paying jobs in our current economy.  What do you and your wife do to earn your great incomes?  Where do you live?  What type of family support and training did you receive growing up?  What is your level of education?  Don’t you know anyone who struggles to survive despite being a truly good person with a strong work ethic?

          • Ryan H

            Jim,

            I like this sentence you said: 

            “I think you would agree that statistics show that around half of the population is dumber than average. “

          • Jim in Omaha

            Where do you figure you sit, statistically?  And what do you have to say about the rest of what I wrote? 

    • twenty-niner

      Clinton also gave China “Most Favored Nation” status, the old one-two punch.

      Now as a result, we are faced with global labor arbitrage where labor rates not only for manufacturing but even niche services such as reading X-rays are quickly regressing towards the mean.

  • Anonymous

    President Obama’s Asset AllocationThis is surprising:The Obamas reported total financial assets valued between $2.8 million and $11.8 million in 2010….They report having between $1.1 million-$5.25 million invested in Treasury bills and another $1 million to $5 million in Treasury notes….The Obamas report having between $200,000-$450,000 invested in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund.In other words, it looks like the president has only a small percentage (about 10 percent) of his personal financial assets invested in equities.  This is far, far less than financial advisers would recommend.  (If you are curious, I am at 60 percent equities.)  Either the president is not very financially savvy, or he has reason to believe that the future of the U.S. economy is not very bright. In other words, it looks like the president has only a small percentage (about 10 percent) of his personal financial assets invested in equities.  This is far, far less than financial advisers would recommend.  (If you are curious, I am at 60 percent equities.)  Either the president is not very financially savvy, or he has reason to believe that the future of the U.S. economy is not very bright. Or maybe he is just too busy to think about it. LOL

    • Anonymous

      What’s the point of this comment? Also why did you need to repeat the same thing about your investments twice?

      • Anonymous

        It scares me a little when the leader of our economy is betting with his personal millions, against our economic success.  This should scare you too!

        The repat was a typo since my computer was acting up.

        • Jim in Omaha

          Equating a rise in the stock market with the health of our country’s economic soundness as a whole is foolish, as anyone paying attention for the past few years would know. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Or could it be that he follows a different set of advice about investing?  Could it be that he has different priorities?  Or that he’s come to his investments along a different path from yours?

      • Anonymous

        That could be, but it is very scary to have a president make his personal investments such that his personal investing success doesn’t depend on the success of the US economy as a whole! 
         
        In short, my investing which follows the general investing standards given by investment professionals is to bet on the success of the US economy and go overweight (more than 50% of investments in US stock market) and generally 20% or less in government bonds (depending on the age of the investor, 50% bonds when 55yo+)

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          And then there’s the many of us who live paycheck to paycheck and see all this investment talk as a lovely dream.

    • Chris B

      I think your flag icon is a con. I don’t believe that your really an American.

      • Chris B

        I meant, “you’re”.  Typo.

      • Anonymous

        Please explain? 

        • Chris B

          Look at all the other posters on this site, Bran.  Only you seem to feel the need to yell, “I’m an American!  See?  I’ve covered myself with the flag!  I’m an American!”  It either means your overcompensating for something, or else stating, “I’m not like the rest of you!  I’m an AMERICAN!”  It’s either suspect or in bad taste.

          • Anonymous

            I will not justify your odd comment by responding further than.  You should really not attack people for being proud to be American especially on a government sponsored website like NPR!

          • Chris B

            I think we are pretty much all proud Americans here and I wouldn’t dream of attacking that.  What I object to is anyone’s appropriation of our flag for use as a personal symbol, as if they alone stand for America.

  • Doreen

    I certainly hope that the jobs created are livable wage jobs where workers have protections, collective bargaining rights, against predatory employers. Otherwise, it’s still a race to the bottom.

    • Cory

      You KNOW they aren’t.

      • Anonymous

        With Obama in office New McJobs are out pacing all others

        • Cory

          And it’s ALL his fault personally.  No other political party, office, or ideology.

  • William

    I think the answer is cheap, reliable power. We should not try to just compete on wages, but pursue the goal of providing the cheapest and most reliable power to the manufacturing sector.

    • Nicholas Bodley

      Low-cost power is,  of course, desirable. Hydropower is costly to create in the first place, which means loans for construction need to be repaid, but once that’s done,. it’s mostly cost of maintenance (and paying workers decently). However, there are more subtle, long-term ill effects.

      Nevertheless, I’d say that for many industries, power cost is hardly a major factor. Exceptions might well be aluminum smelting, arc furnaces,  and such.

  • Nicholas Bodley

    In recent years, right up to now, I’ve been checking to see where various items are made. Nearly all are made in China, but some are from other places. Replacement old-style bi-pin warm white CFLs were made in the UAE, and business envelopes came from Indonesia, for instance.

    Size AA cells branded HomeLife (iirc) (Orange and white colors) were made in the USA, and they aren’t the only ones.

    Most importantly, however, it seems that probably all large injection-molded plastic items, such as storage containers, picnic coolers, and one-piece plastic furniture, are, and have been, made in the USA. It’s really likely that these require enormous presses to keep the molds closed against pressure of the molten plastic being injected. (Technically, look into clamping force; it might well be in the 100s, or maybe even 1000s, of tons for big items.)

    For reasons I don’t know, overseas companies apparently don’t choose to make these items; costs of the presses and molding dies are not trivial.

    I’ve noted that more than a few big plastic items are made right here in Mass.; Leominster seems to be quite active.

    I expect to post another message about Chinese quality.

    • Chris B

      Actually, I expect the large injection molded products are made here not for technical reasons but because they are not “value dense” enough to warrant being made overseas.  Japanese plastic model kits, for instance have very high detail (which requires the high pressure presses you mention) and can cost $80 or more for something that fits in a box 12″x5″x2″, whereas a cooler may be only $10 but take up 2 cubic feet of space.  It’s not worth packing the hold of a freighter with coolers when you could put something that yields far more profit per given volume in there

      • Nicholas Bodley

         Chris, imho, you have a really excellent point, clearly stated. It makes a lot of sense. You’ve filled in an important piece that was missing in my thoughts about the matter. Thanks.

  • Nicholas Bodley

     One factor which favor domestic manufacture is product quality. I recently read an item that said some companies are having second thoughts about overseas manufacturing because of poor quality.

    Based on maybe four separate Chinese-made items I’ve bought in recent years, I suspect subtle internal “sabotage” done by Chinese assemblers (and conceivably overlooked by similar-minded Chinese inspectors). PLEASE understand that I’m definitely /not/ trying to give the Chinese a bad reputation. However, it seems that working conditions are often miserable — witness the Foxconn suicides, for instance.

    It seems that even in cases (such as Apple’s electronics, maybe Nike) where the US company claims to enforce better working conditions, the truth in the factories is not happy, shall we say? It reminds me of “greenwashing”, although that’s a different matter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      “I recently read an item that said some companies are having second
      thoughts about overseas manufacturing because of poor quality.”- Nicholas Bodley

      I intentionally avoid buying cast-metal products from China because I know what the “pot-metal” they are composed from really is: toxic junk like the lead from used car batteries.

       A cheap, shiny metal item on the dollar store shelf may look good in its plastic-bubble pack but if it has “Made in China”on the packaging be aware that you are spending a dollar on something that will break (and probably injure you when used appropriately- especially tools & blades) and cost you much more than you’d spend on an American  or German made item in the long run.

  • ThresherK

    It’s never to early to remember that “Made in USA” label also includes places like the Marianas Islands. Thanks, Tom DeLay!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    As the economies of countries like China and India grow, can we expect that workers there will demand better wages and benefits?  Will that then lift workers here?  That was the goal of free trade.  It’s taken a lot of sacrifice on the part of our workers, but this discussion points to the desirable end coming true.

    • InActionMan

      When wages in China get too high the manufacturing will move to some other place where people are desperately poor like Cambodia. The whole world may be better off in 300 years but, there will be a  lot of pain along the way.

    • Cory

      Lots of poor people in Africa ready to man the widget machine if the chinese and indians get any ideas about upward mobility.

  • Jim in Iowa City

    Are issues with Asian supply chain’s also driving the increase of high tech manufacturing in the US? I’ve heard that counterfeit parts and even recycled parts have shown up in Asian based US factories? In light of the disaster in Japan manufatures are rethinking their suppliers.
    Jim in Iowa City

  • Michael Fairbank

    Another issue with outsourcing is theft of IP.  There was a story making the rounds of the internet about Fellowes losing control of their product to a Chinese subcontractor.

  • Russell Washington

    Please remember to factor in the fact that US industrialists pushed for trade agreements that assured cheap labor but also for total relief from health, safety and environmental regulations. This was a strong incentive for off-shoring and did save them money in the short term. 

  • ThresherK

    Our media is controlled by the uberclass. There is no distinction between the chatter at the cocktail parties attended by our Cokie Robertses and George Wills, and what makes “news”.

    Given that, why am I not surprised that the unpublicized expenses and not-always-manifested fantasy savings of offshoring are news to many?

  • Realist

    I don’t see it.  As an unemployed 50+ manufacturing engineer who used to work in aerospace developing processes like the drilling of holes in turbines blades, I can tell you that no one is knocking on my door.  What has really happened is that the dollar is weak and the great recession has made age discrimination legal.

    • Cory

      Well…  at least if you are older than 55 the republicans are terrified of your voting block and are unlikely to take away your medicare and social security.

  • conor

    pave the high road block the low road, what about all the people that are currently on the low road, and have missed the exit for the high road? Do they just get left behind?

  • Nicholas Bodley

    One more about big plastic items: Shipping isn’t trivial, especially for the likes of Adirondack chairs, or even two-seaters! I live in Eastern Mass, and shipping within our state is much easier and cheaper.

    =====

    Btw, did Tom actually say that temperatures inside a turbine engine are 300,000 degrees?  I surely hope not.

    3000 F. is believable, though.

  • Freeman

    Tom;
            Always surprised at all the  sweet words. Corys’ comments are “right on”.
    The fact is the American Government has abandoned their people. Corporations and the Government have become one. Case in Point ,the very sad story about Massey Energy. Wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan H has his job WITH the Government. Fact; we are heading the way of Egypt and ALL the other Middle Eastern countries.

  • Dave, Jamestown NY

    At some point manufactures have to realize that if they don’t pay people to make here to make their products, no one here will be able to buy anything here.

    My wife was making $11hr before getting laid off 200+ people when the economy tanked, and in an effort to break the union.  The company had to rehire because some contracts called for parts made in a union shop (her shop being  the only union shop in  the company). Big write-up in the paper about rehiring. They hired FIVE back, including my wife. But the new wages for anyone, including the rehires, is $8hr and tops out at $11hr over 5 years.  The company can’t figure out why they can’t keep people, and the people leaving are leaving to make more money and fast food joints. 

    We weren’t on food stamps and medicaid before, but we are now. Actually, my wife got a raise that nets $20 more a month so they took $200 in food stamps away.  We don’t want to be on aid, but what do you do?

    • ThresherK

      “We don’t want to be on aid.”

      Bit of a tangent, but: Why not? (I’ve been in positions like yours.) You paid into it. You can take out of it. And you’ll put it right back into the economy–incredible multiplier effect when our tax dollars go to people in circumstances many Americans are in right now.

      Hey, aid is good enough for rich, connected people who call Congresscritters by first names. Ordinary people like us have to stop thinking like middle-class sorts, always worrying about the false “moral hazards”, and just act as if we’re entitled to it.

    • William

      Your wife must have a pretty low skill job to only get 8 bucks an hour. She should go back to school and become a CNC machinist.

      • Cory

        In my area, CNA’s who dispense medications and check and record vital signs start at $8-$9/hr.  They are often the one to contact nurses and doctors if your grandma at the nursing home heads south.  I think you may be a bit out of touch with what jobs pay now.

        • Brett

          CNA’s don’t “dispense” medication, they “administer” medication…huge difference! Don’t you work in a nursing home? (You should know this!) I hope you’re not “dispensing” medication!?! You best not be transferring medication (more than one dose) from one container to another, either! Putting a weekend supply into a small envelope and writing instructions on the envelope for take-home meds, etc., is not kosher, either! …but, at any rate, I believe William was speaking of machinists (those who do the metal equivalent of a woodworker). They make about $40,000 a year on average. Please read posts more carefully before commenting

          • Cory

            Not a huge difference according to the dictionary, Brett.    Definition of DISPENSE. transitive verb. 1. a: to deal out in portions b: administer 2: to give dispensation to : exempt. 3: to prepare and …

            A nice attempt to discredit my post by parsing words though.

          • Brett

            You should know the difference in your line of work, and as one who administers medication, without consulting a dictionary. There IS a huge difference procedurally in how medication is to be handled and under whose authority; but, make no mistake, the difference between a machinist and a nurse’s assistant is way huger! From that standpoint, you didn’t need any “nice attempts” to discredit your post; you did that all on your own. 

  • Bill

    Globalization has been a buzzword for decades – why the big surprise?

  • Ellen JB

    I don’t think those wages are all that low. It depends on where you live and what the work agreement is. Is there an opportunity for overtime? Do wages increase over time? You can’t look at the high-end union wages as the foundation of all manufacturing wages. A small business just starting to grow may pay less but be an opportunity for employees to grow with the business and advance with in-house training. Any job coming home is a good thing.

    • Cory

      Let them eat cake.

  • Jonathan

    Won’t a true recovery of domestic manufacturing require re-evaluation and amendment of our trade and tariff agreements?  Why do we not levy tariffs on Chinese goods in light of their refusal to adhere to fair monetary policy?

    • Anonymous

      They own all of our debt and essentially own us.  Until we eliminate the federal debt or at least cut it in half and run a balanced budget, our politicians are unable to go against the Chinese since they control the purse strings

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    I’m all for capitalism, but how much money do the execs and shareholders need? Companies want to do less with more, so they lay off workers, ramp up production, and the workers get the bad end of the stick while execs and stockholders feel entitled to more of the profits.

    Where’s the patriotism? Where’s the sense of doing something right?

  • Cris

    Get ready Americans to be wage slaves to foreigners.

  • Hilary Grismore

    I am curious about the role, if any, of our federal government in subsidizing these low-wage or other manufacturing jobs.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities with the Center of Law and Social Policy published a report in February this year about the surprising success of subsidizing jobs for those on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) which was part of the TANF Emergency Fund (part of 2009 Recovery Act) in placing  public assistance recipients in temporary subsidized jobs.  It seems this could assist many companies in being able to offer jobs in a way that could be affordable, plus cut down on the high rates of unemployment.  The CBPP/CLASP report gets into lots of detail about how this works, but your discussion today makes me wonder if there is a place for this here.  Is there a place for government to subsidize jobs giving manufacturers the boost to production needed to then employ people permanently or at a higher wage?

  • InActionMan

    How to bring jobs back to America:

    We need an energy policy. We need to drive the cost of energy in the U.S. as close to zero as possible but, the govt. must take the lead on this.

    Embrace robotization/automation. This may seem counter intuitive on the surface but, if a robot can do a job cheaper than a Chinese worker the job will return to/ stay in the U.S.A. Humans can do the higher level support jobs for the robots.

    Have a real program to encourage entrepreneurship. In the twentieth century we decided that universal education through grade twelve was a right.
    If we decided that a spot in a business incubator for someone that puts in sweat equity time and workable business plan is also a right we could have wealth in this county beyond imagining.

    • ThresherK

      Have a real program to encourage entrepreneurship.

      Program, yes, and anyone who is a little closer to business borrowing than I am can chime on on this, but isn’t the bottleneck for entrepreneurs right now, more than anything, are how banks won’t hardly loan them money?

      Banksters (no sic) are the exact wrong class of people for the entreprenueurial class to have to depend on, for the last several years at least. I envision another “market solution” like student loans, where a “business friendly” government pays exorbitant amounts for charlatans to let funds out at incredibly high rates with an eye-dropper.

  • John in Braintree

    Don’t mean to bring up the obvious, but as Henry Ford and J. Paul Getty famously pointed out, workers are also consumers, and that providing a good wage is good for business.  Getty was a strong supporter of unions for this very reason.  Or is the worker as consumer model unstable?

  • Pacaruso

    Ola America !!!  Benvenidos al mondo tercero !!!!

    Your high-tech military-backed debt-proliferating exploitation driven ponzi system has afforded you a great standard of living for way too long… for producing practically nothing at your make-work pushing papers, wearing badges and uniform psuedo-occupations..   

    Pero,  la fiesta es acabada !!!  ( the party is over).  

    • http://profiles.google.com/dwmf56 David Fechter

      We need to adjust and educate. We need to look at quality of life and not quantity of life. But are you indicating that you would rather be elsewhere………..perhaps, in the Spanish speaking world?

      • Nicholas Bodley

        David asked: “But are you indicating that you would rather be elsewhere………..perhaps, in the Spanish speaking world?’

        Well, if life here continues its trend toward being nasty, brutish, and short for the majority, I’d seriously consider emigrating, possibly to Costa Rica, but they don’t want millions of immigrants. Brazil might be more accepting. However, I’m on the far side of 70; I’m relatively fortunate (so far), so emigrating is hardly likely.

        I’m probably drawing the wrong inference, but do you consider the Spanish speaking world inferior? Different, surely, in some respects, but, all of us worldwide are basically human with the same basic hopes and desires.

    • Hillarion of Sudbury

      Pacaruso said, “Benvenidos al mondo tercero !!!!”

      Translated: “Welcome to the third world!!!!”

      Indeed, I agree with people who say that the USA is becoming a third-world country as fast as it can. It’s tragic, but right-wing fanatics seem to love tragedy; they create some of it.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    Not everyone is going to be able to be a skilled worker, or near a business that requires skilled manufacturing workers,  just like not everyone is college material. All those workers can’t be service industry, and end up waiting on people that wait on them in another job. The US needs to make things again. 

    Great point on the universal health care. That would be a HUGE release of that burden from employers.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Agreed universal health care would advantage job creation in the USA.  I seem to see the handwriting of “people who say they like their health care from their jobs” reflecting the signatures of big corporations and unions who like to hang onto their workers by special deals with insurance providers.

  • Dh001g

    Wait a minute…Germany is not a labor utopia either. They are feeling a lot of the same pressures we are feeling here including competition from lower wage workers from the east. They do a lot of things right, however, they exclude women from the work force and have a duel system of imported foreigners who receive very few benefits and native germans who reap the benefits.

    In the US meanwhile we have been manufacturing high-quality products for a long time. I heard we still manufacture 20% of everything made in the world. I think the real problem is our education system is not doing a good job of preparing young people for non-college track jobs. We need to train some students in CNC machining and welding, not have them bored with algebra. in that respect we can learn from Germany.

    I still think if we had invested the trillions we spent on the Iraq and Afghan wars in this countries transportation infrastructure and education system we would be doing just fine. Regulating land speculators wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Realist

    Well the piece of “steel” that’s being forged in the picture at the top of the page is going into a military helicopter so it can only be made here.  Nice to have a business that’s protected from foreign competition.

  • Helene Powers

    Thank you for including health care as part of the equation. Lack of universal health care AFFECTS us in all types of jobs. It places a huge burden on workers and employers. It is past time that we put a system into place here even better than the Mass. and federal-style programs, both of which seem to still leave profit-making insurance companies mostly in charge. Universal health care is an economic issue–it also is the morally right thing to do, the common sense way to go.

  • Anonymous

    As long as people don’t want to learn to be more versatile and to be people who get things DONE – they will be expendable and they will earn low wages. That said careful financial choices can still lead to a good quality of life in many parts of the USA with low wages. We bought a starter home and a new car with two $7.50 per hour incomes about a decade ago. We spent about $6K on it ($4500 HVAC system plus carpet, linuoleum and paint) and made a little money on it when we bought our next home (larger, second bath, garage). 
    Around here you can see folks who make low wages and still keep a small home neat as a pin with a garden out back. They maintain their home and vehicles themselves to save some cash. Then you can see the folks who look like they live in the middle of a junkyard and farmyard all-in-one and making the same income as the first example. Then there are the folks making a decent living but perpetually broke b/c they hire someone for every chore that they could do for themselves. They’d rather pursue a life of leisure on the ‘net or in front of the TV. 

    • ThresherK

      How many more versatile, driven people do you want competing for your next job in the current business climate?

      And before you answer, remember what constitutes a “labor shortage” to a CEO: Not having 200 candidates for every opening.

      Maybe self-selected non-versatile “expendables” are good for you, personally.

      • Anonymous

        I would rather have a dozen very well qualified applicants than a dozen of do-nothings. That’s a trick question though because there are many potential variables. Do i want folks with master’s degrees applying for menial work? No. They aren’t going to be happy long term however for the short term they might be very thankful for the job – if the job market is so bad that there are excess folks with advanced degrees applying for menial work. On the other hand if at a later date I can make better use of these advanced degree people as my business improves then we’ve got a win-win situation. 

        It’s not an easy this or that question. 

        • ThresherK

          This isn’t a trick question. We are at a point in the business cycle where there are dozens of qualified people for openings. Now that people who have all those qualities you claim to value are not employed, or under employed, and getting to be in bad straits, through no fault of their own, you seem to be ready to tell us that Applicant X was a worthy sort when they were employed in 1998 and putting into their 401k, and that same person has now fallen victim to moral hazards and become the idle poor because the only difference now is they’re taking out of their 401k and don’t have a paycheck.

          • Anonymous

            Actually – no I’m not. We’re almost on the same page. Limitations of text rather than face to face conversation. If a person was productive back then then they are likely just as capable and perhaps even more eager to be productive today. That person hopefully is using every day seeking a new niche for themselves and a new way to earn a living. Because they are not employed doesn’t mean they are a do nothing unless they’d rather waste their time collecting unemployment than looking for a new job. As I said before I use everyday as an opportunity to make myself a little bit more marketable. As an employee in 2011 I am twice the employee that I was in 2006. Five years of teaching myself everything I could. Five years of seeking out new opportunities to apprentice myself to senior employees who were willing to teach me something. Five years of practicing everything I have learned.

            The do-nothings I mentioned are not strictly the unemployed. I recognize that there are people who through no fault directly of their own are unemployed. 

            The do-nothings I focused on are the folks who are lazy in every facet of their lives. Everything about them tells the world that they are do-nothings – their vehicle, their home, their appearance, their language and their resume (which they probably don’t have). I have accepted resumes from folks who could not even spell basic words. Now we can blame the public school system but I’d argue that there were educated teachers there that offered the child and his family a chance to learn and they either rejected the opportunity outright or simply put education low on their priority list. Chasing Janey or riding their four wheeler or hunting was more important than sitting down to read and learn something – - anything! 

            I’ve met PLENTY of people who came from very humble beginnings, from poor school systems, and went on to make a good living with or without a university degree. Those are the people who do not have idle hands. These are the people that earn a profit on everything they tough during a week. Those are the people that control their destinies better than someone who relies on success in the land of cubicles to remain employed. I’ve been one of those cubicle dwellers too and I moved on as soon as I saw the company’s fortunes falter and as soon as it was clear to me that the company was going to either replace me with someone cheaper or simply work me until I was ruined and used up. I speak to my former coworkers from time to time and their quality opf life is barely tolerable. For one reason or another though they can’t leave those jobs – bills, family responsibilities or perhaps they are a one trick pony and can’t do anything else. 

      • Anonymous

        FWIW I have worked for several employers over the years that were greedy and asked alot of their lowest paid employees – long hours, low pay, dangerous work conditions, no “ownership” over your job (micro-management of every detail, employer just wanted a “yes-sir” robot for an employee). 

        No, if I’m going to hire an employee, my management style is going to value an employee that can think for themselves and thus be more valuable to me and themselves. I don’t want a robot or a trained monkey. I want to hire someone who can benefit me and themselves long term in my employment. A more symbiotic situation. 

        • ThresherK

          I don’t care how you would manage. We are at a point in the business cycle
          where there are dozens of qualified people for openings. People can’t just up and leave jobs; in fact millions of Americans can’t even give up their crappy jobs (and crappy healthcare that comes with it), and employers threaten them over it every week.

          Now that
          people who have all those qualities you claim to value are not
          employed, or under employed, and getting to be in bad straits, through
          no fault of their own, you seem to be ready to tell us that Applicant X
          was a worthy sort when they were employed in 1998 and putting into
          their 401k, and that same person has now fallen victim to moral hazards
          and become the idle poor because the only difference now is they’re
          taking out of their 401k and don’t have a paycheck.

          For god’s sake, stop trying to tell us something about the morals and training and grit of millions of Americans that only changes with the economy as a whole.

          • Anonymous

            It may not be the case in your part of the country but around here there are still opportunities for someone with some motivation to work. They might not have opportunities that lead to a corner office but there are opportunities. You seem to think that the economic system in our country is universally broken. I would tell you that it might be in your town, it is not universally broken. Do nothings still are going to have problems, perhaps bigger than ever before. The motivated folks are still going to have opportunities though they may need to retrain or relocate to find those opportunities. Yes the 50+ crowd may never find the kind of prosperity they had ten years ago. I’m not making excuses for Wall Street or D.C. because I think most of them are a bunch of thieves. That said I can’t change that situation. I can vote left or right and I’m still voting from the same privileged class of people who will likely be privileged all their lives. 

            What I can do and have been doing is what I mentioned in my other statements – I continue to learn, hone my skills, continue to widen my skills, continue to make social connections, save money whenever possible, and consider creating opportunities for myself as an entrepreneur. I have worked for myself in the past and made good money for that period of my life. I now work for someone else b/c I make more money doing my current job. At some point if I need to get out before a layoff I will (did that in Dec ’06, was a good move). If I find that I see an opportunity that will make me money and give me the freedom over my own life that I crave – I’ll pursue that. You know, invent the next new thing or do a service that nobody else can do as well or build something. 

            I recognize the economy is the mess that it is. It is every-bit the mess that you describe. I can lay blame and lament my situation or I can do something about – everyday, baby steps in the right direction. And that is what I do. 

            Yeah alot of people got the short end of the stick but that is the risk a person takes when they work for someone else. They can be the best employee they can be and still get sent packing through no fault of their own. What are we going to do? Make laws that says an employer can’t fire someone or lay them off? Despite economics dictating that? Being an employee is being a pawn. If you don’t like being a pawn then it is time to be the king by making your own way. The fact that you still work to make a profit still means that indirectly your customer is still your king but at least you’ve still got more control over your professional life than working in an office somewhere. 

      • Anonymous

        FWIW I have worked for several employers over the years that were greedy and asked alot of their lowest paid employees – long hours, low pay, dangerous work conditions, no “ownership” over your job (micro-management of every detail, employer just wanted a “yes-sir” robot for an employee). 

        No, if I’m going to hire an employee, my management style is going to value an employee that can think for themselves and thus be more valuable to me and themselves. I don’t want a robot or a trained monkey. I want to hire someone who can benefit me and themselves long term in my employment. A more symbiotic situation. 

    • conor

      “As long as people don’t want to learn to be more versatile and to be people who get things DONE- they will be expendable and they will earn low wages.”
      Obviously its more complicated than that. Putting all the blame on the individual stops us from looking at the structural problems in our society that create citizens that only have their low skilled labor power.

      • Anonymous

        Yes and no. The “system” ought to be tweaked to provide anyone who is motivated to be able to make a living. We tweak it enable some folks to make max profits, why not tweak it instead so folks can have jobs?

        Still though responsibility lies on the private citizen to get himself or herself an education that is useful. A person who refuses to be reasonably useful is going to be cast aside by society in favor of someone who gets things done and who has taken it upon themselves to get some sort of trade skills or professional education (another kind of skills). 

        Maybe you don’t have enough poor people in your town. I talk with folks from all walks of life. The ones that do well are generally motivated to do well or they were born into a family where they had advantages. The poor? Well some of them are poor b/c they don’t have the mental capacity to do any better. We are not all created equal there. Alot of them however are poor b/c they refuse to do what ti takes to get an education, they don’t value an education and they’ll give you 39 reasons to thumb their noses at “the man”. This problem bridges ethnicity, regional differences, and gender. I have spent plenty of time with folks who will never get ahead b/c they refuse to get up in the morning, to do a good job when they have one to do, and they ridicule people with educations. 

        They are expendable b/c an employer will always have better job candidates than one that is a headache one way or another. When hiring these expendables will be overlooked. When laying off these people will get laid off first. When people are being advanced the employer may not give them raises b/c they have not earned one or b/c the employer would like them to leave or the employer will be happy to continue to pay these expendables less than they do their other employees b/c the employer can. 

        It might not be right but it is what it is. 

  • notafeminista

    Of course health care is for profit.  Who pays the doctors, the nurses, the pharmacists et al for their expertise?

    • Nicholas Bodley

      I think you’re confusing profit with decent pay. I insist that people be paid decently for their work. A modest profit is not bad, but when profit becomes something to be maximized while weakening or destroying lots else, that, it’s just too much.

      • ThresherK

        “Growth for its own sake” is how cancer operates.

    • Cory

      That’s strange, because I work for a not-for-profit hospital.  How is that possible?!

  • Nicholas Bodley

    [Woops. I posted one strongly-worded comment with a pseudonym, while all the rest (I've posted a bunch) were under my real name. Refreshed the page, and all messages had been changed to the pseudonym. Maybe this one will restore things...]

  • Jim in Iowa City

    Our nation needs to do a better job working together to compete globally. Our current economic development schemes are dividing us up so that we can be conquered. Chinese companies are selling 1970′s era Caterpillar styled front end loaders for 1/2 price. Modern high tech loaders are 98% reliable, the Chinese loader are less reliable, but reliable enough for loading coal in a boiler. While Caterpillar and Deere focus on High tech satellite contacted equipment, Chinese distribution networks are growing and their products are improving in quality. I suppose some southern state will soon pay for a Chinese construction equipment factory in the south so that they can undercut Moline, and Peoria. 

  • notafeminista

    Okay, so who gets to decide what is too much profit?  Should the physician who attended Johns Hopkins and practices neuro-microsurgery be compensated at exactly the same wage as a general practitioner who performs no procedures other than basic physical exams and attended the local land-grant college down the street?

    • Jim in Iowa City

      This argument is also used for teacher with master’s degrees when thier annual incomes and benificts are compaired to factory workers. I do not hear many state legislatures advocating policies that support investment that teachers have made in their own education. Quality teachers are needed to teach the math required for workers to understand how to track factory quality control.

  • Gail

    Three new free trade agreements are currently before Congress for consideration: South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states that the South Korea agreement will lead to 160,000 American jobs alone.

    Next on the free trade agreement agenda is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement linking the Asian Pacific countries into one trade block, including China. in November 2011 President Obama will be hosting the TPP Meeting in Hawaii.  The TPP will also lead to significant American job losses.

    Any exports that existing American manufacturers will be able to do will be offset by the imports coming into the U.S. by foreign markets with a net trade deficit.

    Our elected officials (both Republicans and Democrats) literally work for the multinationals and mega banks.

    • bobsblufiat@comcast.net

      Clarification: 

      The 160,000 jobs refers to a loss of 160,000 American jobs under the U.S. – South Korea free trade agreement.

      • Anonymous

        -Why? 
        -What sector or sectors would be hit the hardest under this US loses 160K jobs to ROK scenario?
        -Do you have a link or citation that supports the CBO claim?
        -What would the US job loss projections be if KORUS were not ratified and the US lost our largest pork market, third largest beef and corn market, top ten aerospace, rice, cotton, wheat, soy, leather market and so forth to countries like Canada, Australia, Brazil, etc?

        • Bob

          Response to Wotan_617:

          For specific answers to your questions, here is one easy to read fact sheet:

          http://www.citizen.org/documents/korea-colombia-panama-factsheet-may-2011.pdf

          As a starting point, I highly recommend that you visit Public Citizen Globalization & Trade website for facts about trade and globalization:

          http://www.citizen.org/trade/wto/

          I also recommend you visiting Public Citizen Eyes on Trade and Economy In Crisis for daily updated news stories about trade.
           
          http://citizen.typepad.com/eyesontrade/

          http://www.economyincrisis.org

          • Anonymous

            I asked you specific questions for a reason. You failed to answer a sinlge oen. And I’m also aware of the anti-Korus and often dishonest positions led by Detroit-based auto unions under the guise that they’re protecting the average working-class Joe. If I wanted a crash course on the mislabled “NAFTA-like” KORUS FTA agreement, I would have just read more of Jane Hamsher’s or Michael Moore’s ramblings. Frankly, the tactics of the so-called “progressives” have been too similar to that of Joe the plumber. With such people “looking our for the interest of middle America,” it’s no wonder we’re in the mess that we’re in now.

            You cited a CBO figure. I want you to back it up. CBO reports are online or are often quoted by major news outlets. 

          • Bobs

            Wotan_617:

            Here’s the Congressional Report prepared for Congress on loss of 159,000:http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/R41660_20110228.pdfThe Economic Policy Institute Research on loss of 159,000 jobshttp://epi.3cdn.net/2ed5ba48430c9667bd_xgm6bndi6.pdfhttp://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/free_trade_agreement_with_korea_will_cost_u.s._jobs/My professional background is economics and finance and my political affiliation is an an independent since both parties are corrupt due to campaign finance. 

          • Bob
          • Anonymous

            The EPI link was unnecessary. I breezed through it a few months ago. And as I suspected, the CBO link you provided does not conclude at all that 160K jobs will be lost. If you read it, you’d know they were making note of EPI’s estimates and report. That same CBO write-up also cites the pro-KORUS group’s 280K (or whatever it was) US job GAIN estimate. The CBO did not in the least suggest which side was more right. The following is what they concluded on pages 15 and 16:

            “An analysis of the currently available estimates of the potential effects of the KORUS FTA on U.S. employment, however, raises a number of questions concerning the overall usefulness of the estimates. Economic modeling naturally incorporates various assumptions and entails differing methodologies that can have a profound effect on the estimates that are generated.”

            Again, in no way does the “Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states that the South Korea agreement will lead to 160,000 American jobs alone” nor do they even remotely imply an agreement with the EPI’s 160K job loss estimates. 

            Further, the author of the EPI article, Robert E Scott, wrote a piece for the Huff Post entitled “The Myth of manufacturing recovery” more than a year ago. Clearly, it is not a myth and Mr. Scott and his acolytes would be better served in their purported efforts to “serve middle America” with a bit of self-examination. 

            Whether one’s a self-labeled progressive, tea partier, fiscal conservative and what-not, half truths, disinformation and propaganda is never a service other than to one’s self-interest. 

          • Bob

            As an economist, when looking at all the facts and numbers one understands that free trade has hollowed out a lot of America’s economy. U.S. trade deficit now $203,000,000,000.00. The White House acknowledges the potential for job losses with free trade agreements: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/us/politics/17trade.htmlFree trade neoliberal economics is a mutant form of capitalism that is parasitic and created by the megabanks and multinationals. The transfer of America’s wealth outside the U.S. is stupidity for the future of the country and its citizens.

          • Anonymous

            Way to change the argument again. By your antics here, you’ve proven yourself to be a troll. Next time you cite the CBO, strive to actually cite what they’ve written instead of making stuff up on the fly.

          • Bob

            Wotan_617 – No change of argument if you understand economics, which apparently you do not.

          • Anonymous

            Of course it is but way to retort with the tried and true troll method of “you’re too dumb to understand.”

          • Bob

            Wotan_167 Repeat – No change of argument if you understand economics, which apparently you do not.    

          • Bob
  • Cabmanjohnny

    It would boost the incentive to restore manufacturing if much of the costly impediments to hiring were eliminated or restructured. Worker’s comp, matching withholding contributions, unemployment contributions, product liability insurance cost all shared as a public cost rather than just an employer’s cost or eliminated. Corporate taxes for domestic manufacturers could also be cut or exempted for new plant investment. These cost have had a lot to do with moving plants out of the states. Seldom mentioned compared to the cheap labor reason.

  • Nicholas Bodley

    Apparently,  medical insurance provided by employers began during WW II as an incentive to encourage people to work for companies. I favor something like Medicare for all, but what with the sacredness of greed, that would deny lots of profits, and isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

  • notafeminista

    Profit isn’t bad.  A business that doesn’t make a profit is soon no longer a business.  Get it through your heads folks.  NO ONE goes into business (of whatever type) to lose money.  NO ONE.

    • Jim in Iowa City

      US firms are holding record amounts of cash. Why are they just sitting on it? Which companies have the courage to reinvest in our future. Instead of solid buisiness building I am seeing alot of this cash going into Mergers and more consolidation. 

  • David Shufelt

    I thought I was in a bit of a twilight zone listening to comments from Tom and his guests.  I could swear that just a year or two ago, maybe less, the quality and training of American workers was being roundly criticized.  Almost in the same breath, critics would also cite the low ranking of U.S. student performance compared to the rest of the world.  U.S. students were reportedly ranked way down the list in comparison to India, China and even eastern Europe if memory serves me correctly.  Something doesn’t line up, and I’m surprised that Tom did not call his guests, especially Mr. Suarez, on the carpet for this.

  • notafeminista

    Jim you are 100% correct.  But since our society has demanded teachers be in the public sector (rather than private) they are not subject to the same competitive environment.

    • Jim in Iowa City

      A lot of neuro surgery goes on the pubic dime as well and the supply of doctors is tightly controled by AMA and universities.

      A lot of money can be made planting oak trees and the payoff is worth the 40 year wait. I don’t see that kind of patience within the Chamber of commerce or in government. But, our nation (public and private) need to make some long term investments.

    • Anonymous

      You seem to know nothing about the teaching field.

  • notafeminista

    Businesses don’t know what’s going to happen with the Affordable Care Act and business owners are afraid their taxes are going to increase substantially over the next 2-5 years.  Based on comments in this forum alone, I’d say that’s a valid concern.  Business owner are Jim, saving for the proverbial rainy day.

  • notafeminista

    Enlighten me then.

  • notafeminista

    The supply of doctors is controlled by the universities only in the sense of whether or not a med school candidate can pass the program at a given institution.  If said candidate fails, then no, said candidate will not become a doctor.

    • Jim in Iowa City

      I hope the same true for Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners.

    • Jim in Omaha

      Why do I have to go to a state-sanctioned “doctor” for my health care needs?  Why not let the market decide whether I want PA’s, midwives, or for that matter, “witch doctors” or faith healers, provide care for me and my family.   Or do you believe that only the government can decide who I treat with?

      • Anonymous

        The left wing progressives thinks we are to dumb to make these vital decisions and the government will make the decisions much more efficiently.  I don’t know where they got their data from, but it was probably north Korea!

        • Anonymous

          You seem to get off posting a lot of misinformation based on complete nonsense.

        • Anonymous

          You seem to get off posting a lot of misinformation based on complete nonsense.

  • Jim in Iowa City

    I’m no accountant, but perhaps when taxes do go up cooperations will ply their cash reserves into capital investments that they can depreciate against over time against these new taxes.

    • Anonymous

      So let me get this right… You think that increasing the cost of doing business will motivate the business to spend more money to build their capacity to do more business and pay even more taxes?  

      Please tell me that I am not the only one that listens to NPR and has taken college level economics course to know that Jim is on the wrong track.

      Jim,  

      How about we increase your income taxes 20% so you can be motivated to work more!  Doesn’t that sound GREAT.

      If you agree with me please LIKE This!!!!

      • Cory

        Cigarrettes are a dangerous, carcinogenic product that has been taxed again and again until a pack costs almost $5.  Strangely, lots of people still smoke. 

  • Bob

    China manufacturers only pay 2.5% in taxes to export to U.S.

    U.S. manufacturers pay 25% in taxes to export to China.

    Unfair trade policies and agreements have led to the hollowing out of America’s manufacturing.

    • Sam Wilson

      Yes, just like GE and Exxon Mobile.. :-)

  • notafeminista

    Jim you shouldn’t have to go to a “state-sanctioned” doctor.  Far from it.  The market should decide.  If Patient A doesn’t like Doctor B (for whatever reason) then Patient A should absolutely be permitted to take his business elsewhere.  No question.

    • Jim in Omaha

      Sooo, you believe the government should play no role in licensing or determining who can hold themselves out as a health care provider?   You would therefore oppose an entity of the government, like a state health department, licensing only those who meet its government-created criteria as doctor?

    • Cory

      I don’t want the market to decide things for me.  The market is amoral, and doesn’t care if I live or die.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not sure what country you live in but I have to go the doctor my insurance company has on it’s list. Kind of the same thing as a “state-sanctioned” doctor. Whatever that is. What is a “state-sanctioned” doctor? In Canada people go to any doctor they want too. The same in Great Britain. You’re making up stuff here and it’s kind of annoying.

  • notafeminista

    Greg, if you are living paycheck to paycheck, perhaps it is time to re-think your household budget.

    • Barlow_307thAEB

      It possible that they are living below the standard budget. With gas prices out in orbit, and food cost following in the same vapor trail. You cant honestly say such a thing with out being fair.

    • Jim in Omaha

      Thank you for clarifying that you are utterly clueless about a significant segment of society.

    • Cory

      Because all those who find themselves living check to check are either lazy or lacking in morals.

  • Barlow_307thAEB

    In my local area, I have seen a few high tech manufacturing jobs begin to pop up, how ever those that are popping up are going to individuals who have or are going through a in-company training. These are the needed jobs, yet the wages are not so competitive or are high paying with little to no needed benefits. Other manufacturing companies that are popping up are giving away needed job slots, not to needing Americans but, willing illegal immigrants willing to work in what many call Slave Wages, and continuing the American Unemployment issues. While the Companies are getting tax breaks for bringing their business to the area, in expectation that willing Americans will get off unemployment, and begin to provide a Tax Base to draw from, and with the Immigrant workers taking those low pay jobs, there still is no tax base for the area.

  • notafeminista

    Soooo because a business owner (read: employer) doesn’t do business according to the demands of a potential employee, we should penalize the business owner to the point that either A)The business owners folds up shop entirely to pursue another endeavor or B)takes his business “off shore”?

    • Cory

      C) The employer scales back his profits from grotesque to reasonable and pays wages and benefits that allow a decent quality of life for the employees that make his or her profits possible in the first place.

    • Anonymous

      Interesting philosophy. How far would you take this? Should we relax work safety rules? How about getting rid of the 40 hour work week.
      Oh wait we have already done that. Lets see relax the child labor laws, and while we are at regulations on pollution. Why not just bring back work houses and indentured servitude.

  • Wayne

    How about discussing the consumers role in the manufacturing movement? Manufacturer’s respond to consumers demand for lower priced goods. If consumers were willing to pay a bit more for a product, would not jobs stay?

    • Anonymous

      It could also be said that companies have imported inferior products that consumers have bought based on the companies prior history of good products.  This can be seen in the constant recalls of lead based paint on toys, chemical laced herbal supplements, carcinogen loaded dry wall…. eventually it catches up with the companies, but often it takes so long to catch up with them that the company can’t build the product in the US if they wanted to because their competition followed their mistake to outsource and there former suppliers are out of business.

    • VicToriA

      Ever been poor?  Poor consumers can only pay lower prices! If you ain’t got it, you can’t pay it!

  • Barry

    I wonder what, if any, further Union consessions may be forthcoming.  While I would like to blame the labor unions for parts of our economic difficulties, I equally blame the large employers that caved in to union demands and in so doing made it too expensive to do business in America.  $50+ per hour is unsustainable for run of the mill factory jobs, and that has now been proven.

  • mkd

    You seem to cover every aspect of the economy but the economy itself.  Have you ever considered a show on the nature of capitalism?  I would highly recommend as guest Paul Mattick, Jr., who recently wrote that it is crisis, not growth, that is the status quo of a capitalist system (Business as Usual: The Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism, Reaktion Books, 2011).

    • Contact

      Might be a good idea to look at redefining Capitalism. China is reeling from the effects of their robust economy–major cities big money while 80% of the country lives as though they are in the middle ages. 

      All is not well with the status quo of what happened to unbridled capitalism..therein lies the rub.

  • G Rodriguez

    With the one child policy in China, it is only a matter of time, the jobs come back to the USA.  They cannot support more manufacturing for long.  Welcome NAFTA!  We need to look closer at our southern neighbor.

  • William

    Tom seemed more concerned about the wages being paid rather than jobs being created.

  • William

    Tom seemed more concerned about the wages being paid rather than jobs being created.

  • Joel Gropper

    I am a business broker in SE Florida specializing in manufacturers and import/export wholesale companies. I have a much more detailed experience in micro – actual companies wanting to sell. I review all financials.
    Labor runs $10-12 unskilled $12-18 skilled her.In this down economy labor costs have risen to 22-26% of costs.
    Making us competitive on higher end specific product.
    Broad based factory line production is succeeding mostly where the lead time is critical (shorter then imports) or the cost of the transportation/duties make the cheaper overseas product less competitive.
    I also imported for 25 years.
    Joel A. Gropper
    561-676-3463

  • Scott Dennison

    We are a Milwaukee foundry and machine shop building bronze
    gear blanks.  We lost 60% of our business in 2009 and reduced our
    workforce by 60%.  Combining lean manufacturing, we are nearly back at
    2008 levels of sales but doing it with 40% of our former employment.  We
    add jobs as business increases.  We pay top competitive wages and have
    trouble finding qualified machinists and foundry workers.

     

    Our customers have come back to us from off shore suppliers
    due to the desire to reduce inventory levels.  We provide KanBan programs
    for them to deliver JIT.  WE have taken at least four different gear
    blanks back from China due to quality, delivery and inventory concerns.

     

    Manufacturing is coming back!
     

    • Contact

      Where are you looking for skilled workers? There are scores of seasoned workers–skilled–who would be there in a snap if they had the cash to get to WI.

      Have you thought of contacting the Work Source offices outside of WI? You might consider hiring laid off aircraft and ship building workers on the West Coast.

      I encourage you to contact the Work Source offices in other States and see if you can strike a deal with them to assist in travel arrangements to get the seasoned (aka over 40) worker to your plant. There is a wealth of talent out there, think creatively!

  • Realist

    Just a couple of comments about the centerpiece stories told by guests that were background for this show.  Tom your producer really dropped the ball!

    The plant Peter Coy visited makes a product whose technology, single crystal turbine blades, can only manufacture in the US because it’s controlled under ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations). GE has always made those in parts in US.  I know because it licenses the technology from my former employer, Pratt & Whitney.  I suspect that the casting facility in Greenville, that opened in April 19, 2010, was placed there because SC, unlike Ohio, is a right to work state.

    Now as to Ben Suarez.  His primary business is direct mail.  The claims he makes for his products he sells are either half truths or outright lies.  I don’t know why he’s starting to make stuff here but I’ll bet there’s some tax incentives involved.  Too bad when you buy his products you’re getting ripped off..

  • Anonymous

    let’s hope these manufacturing jobs of the low tech kind are going to the poor and working class and not illegal aliens…Dare ya to bring this point up on air. 

    • Michael

      prob right, employers of illegals face little repercussions for hiring such.

      Even my friend who owns a landscaping company who always complains about illegals taking his job than last summer ended up hiring some illegals from Portugal here in mass after he got a big job and wanted to pocket more of the money.  

      He explain it away after a made fun of him about it.

      • Anonymous

        Your friend is an A** hole. 

  • Jdewey

    When is the US government going to develop a manufacturing strategy?  If jobs and exports are so critical to the US economy, you would think that development of a cohesive plan to grow our manufacturing base would be a priority.
    JD-San Antonio

  • Michael

    Sad many Americans have been sold out by most of our politicians and reduce to such.

    Too bad the U.S. couldn’t impose sanctions or taxes on goods produced with slave and inhumane labor. Or require a standard quality of working before it trade with x country.

  • Marka

    We need to realize that not everyone is born brilliant! Not everyone has the intelligence to do high skilled jobs! That’s why we still need low skilled jobs for Americans in this country! Those people have to survive to!!

  • Bob
  • Robert
    • Anonymous

      Odd posting behavior. You’ve already replied to me in the appropriate thread with the same two false links. Nevertheless, the following was my response:

      The EPI link was unnecessary. I breezed through it a few months ago. And as I suspected, the CBO link you provided does not conclude at all that 160K jobs will be lost. If you read it, you’d know they were making note of EPI’s estimates and report. That same CBO write-up also cites the pro-KORUS group’s 280K (or whatever it was) US job GAIN estimate. The CBO did not in the least suggest which side was more right. The following is what they concluded on pages 15 and 16:

      “An analysis of the currently available estimates of the potential effects of the KORUS FTA on U.S. employment, however, raises a number of questions concerning the overall usefulness of the estimates. Economic modeling naturally incorporates various assumptions and entails differing methodologies that can have a profound effect on the estimates that are generated.”

      Again, in no way does the “Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states that the South Korea agreement will lead to 160,000 American jobs [lost] alone” nor do they even remotely imply an agreement with the EPI’s 160K job loss estimates. 

      Further, the author of the EPI article, Robert E Scott, wrote a piece for the Huff Post entitled “The Myth of manufacturing recovery” more than a year ago. Clearly, it is not a myth and Mr. Scott and his acolytes would be better served in their purported efforts to “serve middle America” with a bit of self-examination. 

      Whether one’s a self-labeled progressive, tea partier, fiscal conservative and what-not, half truths, disinformation and propaganda are never a service to anyone other than to one’s own self-interest.

      • Bob

        As an economist, when looking at all the facts and numbers one understands that free trade has hollowed out a lot of America’s economy. U.S. trade deficit now $203,000,000,000.00. The White House acknowledges the potential for job losses with free trade agreements: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/us/politics/17trade.html
        Free trade neoliberal economics is a mutant form of capitalism that is parasitic and created by the megabanks and multinationals. The transfer of America’s wealth outside the U.S. is stupidity for the future of the country and its citizens.

        • Anonymous

          Way to change the argument again. By your antics here, you’ve proven yourself to be a troll. Next time you cite the CBO, strive to actually cite what they’ve written instead of making stuff up on the fly.

          • Bob

            Wotan_617 – No change of argument if you understand economics, which apparently you do not.

          • Anonymous

            Of course it is but way to retort with the tried and true troll method of “you’re too dumb to understand.”

          • Bob

            Wotan_167 Repeat – No change of argument if you understand economics, which apparently you do not.    

  • Bob

    U.S. trade deficit – to date:

    $203,000,000,000.00

    Source: Trade Ticker:
    http://www.americaneconomicalert.org/ticker_home.asp

  • notafeminista

    I work more than 40 hours a week because I want to, as do most Americans who find themselves the beneficiary of overtime.  As for child labor laws, who brought their children to the worksite in the first place? That certainly wasn’t mandated nor legislated.   Employees brought their children to work by choice, recognizing that more people in the family who worked meant more income which meant (at the heart of it)more economic freedom.   Of course they chose to bring their children into dirty, noisy, dangerous places and then demanded their employers customize the workplace to suit the children brought by the employees.

  • notafeminista

    Pardon for the delays in responses.
    1)A doctor approved by an insurance company (or not) is hardly the same as one approved by the state.  As of right now (for the moment) insurance companies are still mostly private.  You can take your insurance business wherever you want if you don’t like the services and coverage your current provider offers.  Not so with a state-sanctioned doctor.
    2)No I don’t think doctors (or most anyone)need to be licensed by the state.  As we have seen historically with most anything sanctioned by the state it ends up (at the very least) in a fiscal nightmare.  (Hello California)
    3)I realize I am Simon LeGree for suggesting those currently “living paycheck to paycheck” should look internally rather than externally for solutions to their financial obstacles, but I did not say nor imply anyone living paycheck to paycheck is or was lazy. For clarification (by example) this is exactly what I am saying:  I put myself through college May 2006-May 2010 which as is well-known was during what might be charitably called one of the more significant economic downturns in recent history.  No loans, no grants, just my income. I was at the time making approximately 13.00 an hour, and commuted 30min each way to class 5 days a week in a 12 yr old car.  Now, also during that time gas hit nearly 4.00 a gal where I live and I know it was over 4.00 many other places.  I knew, that if gas hit the magic 4.00 a gal mark, I would have to suspend my college education until it became more economically feasible for me to commute again.  I had other choices as well:  I could find a 2nd or higher paying job, and/or I could move closer to the campus.  THAT is what I mean when I say it may be time to reconsider the household budget. A shorter easier way of saying it is sacrifice – something Americans haven’t been familiar in the main since 1950.

    In response to the poster who put up the WSJ blog about financially fragile Americans, I will point you to the same publication, I belive Taranto’s Best of the Web column in which a woman is quoted as her commitment to economic downsizing was to give up her Starbucks Latte.  We are only as fragile as we want to be.

  • Jim

    I believe or economic plummet began when the greedy corp. sold out the American manufacturing work force by exporting their jobs to countries like China and India in the name of greater profits, and that economic recovery will not really happen until those jobs return to the U.S.A.

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