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General Interest, Politics

RE-INDUSTRIALIZATION, ANYONE?

News reports reveal that China is now building a network of high speed trains, as well as everything else you can think of. That used to be America, the factory to the world, turning out high quality products in demand all over the planet. Then the industrialists who were made fabulously wealthy by the labor of American workers began selling their jobs overseas, the ungrateful bastards. These industrialists and manufacturers didn’t lower the price of consumer goods because they were now paying less to have their products assembled, instead pocketing the huge difference as profits, plus stiffing the U.S. government for the taxes once generated by domestic production. One thing led to another and now we can’t even produce our own underwear anymore. How embarrassing is that?

We are a consumer nation now, sending our wealth overseas for just about everything we wear, drive, view, listen to, speak into, compute on and burn for energy. We invent all sorts of things here but have no factories to produce these inventions, so they wind up being made elsewhere too. We have nearly 10% unemployment with any number of these people willing and able to be trained to work in factories making useful stuff, providing of course we still have anyone around who remembers how to train factory workers. But we are told that the new global economy makes our industrial neutering a good thing, that this is dirty work best done by poorer nations. The wise pundits also tell us it would be ungallant to slap tariffs on the products of other nations, poorer nations who do the same to us and make American made goods prohibitively expensive.

Well, bullshit, pundits, bullshit! In this global economy, can we be absolutely certain that no one on this globe will ever again attempt to start a huge war against us? Really certain? If the answer to that is no, and we cannot be certain that there will never be another world war, then we need factories. Lots of them. The only reason that the Allies were able to overcome Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War 2 was because of America’s vast industrial infrastructure. Our factory production supplied many millions of tons of armaments and supplies to England, Russia and China as well as our own armed forces. Our shipbuilding, aircraft, artillery and motor vehicle output more that any military success ensured our complete victory in only three and a half years from the attack on Pearl Harbor until VJ Day.

While we still manufacture and export tons of weapons, more than any other nation, our other vital industries have been shipped elsewhere, from shipbuilding to clothing to rubber, plastics, steel, automotive and a hundred other related industries that are vital to any war effort, as well as the high tech computer components that are essential to modern warfare. In the event of the unthinkable, who will help us like we helped other nations in the 1940s? China? They would be our most likely enemy, and would have no problem manufacturing all their war needs domestically. Would Russia help us like we helped them? Hardly. They’re still pissed off they lost the Cold War along with half their territory and population, and see America as the only thing between them and their former superpower status.

Barring security reasons, it is still a good thing for a large nation to have a strong industrial base. Other nations gain undue leverage on America because of our status as a consumer nation. Why depend on the vagaries of production in places where we have no control? Why depend on the good will of other nations? The world is growing and the oil supply is dwindling and competition for resources growing more contentious. Who will be more likely to learn how to use an alternative form of energy, a nation with an infrastructure of production and a tradition of problem-solving or a consumer nation hoping that someone else is innovative enough to invent something and generous enough to share it with us? Sounds like wishful thinking.

Better to be the one who has the answers, the know how and the means to produce and be beholden to no one else. America taught the world how to manufacture quality goods and saved the world with our capabilities. We once walked softly through this world and carried a big stick. That stick was not our army or our navy but our thousands and thousands of factories ready at a moment’s notice to defend this nation. As the sole remaining superpower on the planet, we no longer walk so softly but now our big stick is in pieces spread throughout a world increasingly hostile to the nation that showed them that industrial capacity means wealth, power and security. If we want to keep ours, we need to re-industrialize America.

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