America's manufacturing base is under attack and Washington treats it as just another issue.
It is not just another issue. It is the issue. This problem is our collective kryptonite. An ever less competitive manufacturing base inevitably means cataclysmic erosion of our standard of living. If we are reduced to just flipping hamburgers and exploiting our raw materials, we will have an economy, but it will be a diminished economy of decline and defeat. The American people would never stand for such a prospect. As the recent MIT report on competitiveness put it, "In order to live well, a country must produce well." This is the slogan which should sit on the President's desk.
It would perhaps be useful to put numbers on this concern. There are three major indices that tell the tale - the number of persons employed in manufacturing, our balance of trade and the federal budget deficit. \
Manufacturing employment: The United States today has only 17% of its total workforce in manufacturing, down from 26% in 1970. If defense industries are removed, we have only 15%. The Germans have 33% of their companies in manufacturing and the Japanese have 28%.Tsongas, a Democrat, saw a dangerous, negative trend before many others. He articulated it well. Where he got it wrong was that Americans had become sheeple-ized enough to accept becoming a nation of burger flippers. Of course, Democrats rejected, or at least bypassed, Tsongas and his message. Democrats in 1992 wanted a "cool" nominee. Bill Clinton went on TV, played his sax, and Clinton became the Democrat's nominee in '92.
Democrats today try to hide the damage done by catering to burger-flipper America by calling for a higher minimum wage.
And, for those Republicans (and Democrats) who say Donald Trump is a protectionist who doesn't understand trade... I find it odd there was no outcry in 2011 when Mitt Romney pushed the same theme Trump does today.
“China is on almost every dimension cheating. We got to recognize that. They’re manipulating their currency and by doing so they’re holding down the price of Chinese goods and making sure their products are artificially low-priced. It’s predatory pricing. It’s killing jobs in America.” - Mitt Romney, 2011, as quoted in Forbes.