We have to have things to sell to others to bring in the money to buy things from others. Detroit’s bankruptcy shows what happens when a country forgets that.
I hosted a blogger call yesterday with Carl Pope and Scott Paul to discuss the new book ReMaking America. I wrote about the book a month ago. (Harold Meyerson said, “Going down to Mississippi wages does not signal a bright future for American economy.”) Please visit www.remakingamericabook.com for more information about this book.
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But first, here are my remarks introducing the call:
On today’s call we are talking about the revival of manufacturing. This is especially timely because of the bankruptcy of Detroit, a city that used to exemplify of America’s manufacturing prosperity, now a wasteland of crumbling buildings and homes – and people.
So let me set the stage for today’s call.
Detroit’s bankruptcy shows exactly what this whole manufacturing discussion is really about.
Manufacturing is one of the main ways a country makes a living. We have to have things to sell to others to bring in the money to buy things from others.
American used to sell far more to the world than we brought in. Until the early 80s we were the largest “creditor” nation. We made things and sold them. Then tax and trade policies transformed us to the world’s largest debtor nation – we moved factories out of the country or just bought things from elsewhere – and since then that imbalance has only gotten worse and worse … and worse and worse.
Do you remember the movie “Roger and Me,” about what happened to Flint? THAT movie showed what happens to cities when “government gets out of the way,” and lets factories and industries move. That movie was in 1989, and the same thing has only gotten worse and spread around the country.
As the factories moved well-paying manufacturing jobs disappeared, and were replaced by low-wage jobs at places like Walmart and Staples. This started a downward spiral and now everyone feels the downward pressure on wages.
Entire regions were devastated as manufacturing left the country, and suppliers left the country, and design jobs and machine maintenance jobs and all the rest of the jobs associated with manufacturing left the country and over time the middle class started to shrink and feel the squeeze.
And now we see the results in major cities like Detroit.
So what are we going to do about it?
As a country we have to rethink this and remake America, and to talk about a new book, called Remaking America, I would like to introduce Scott Paul.
Scott is President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership of some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union, working to restore American manufacturing competitiveness.
After Scott talked he introduced Carl Pope, former Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Carl’s chapter in the Remaking America book, “Energy Manufacturing: The Linchpin for America’s Future,” argues for more support for renewable energy technology innovation and explains precisely how this can be done. Carl is going to tell us about this today.