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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Death of American Innovation

The United States of America has long been known for its abilities to produce the next great machine. Expanding our nation’s abilities by building products in factories and relying on its workforce to innovate original designs, streamline production, increase product quality, and in return supply a living wage to our citizens. Innovations come from people making a product in a factory and being proud of the next great widget that they were a part of from the start. They don’t come from an office worker sending a production order to be built overseas or just over the border where wages are disgustingly low but corporate profits are high.

More and more, American companies are outsourcing their manufacturing out of the country and that is a potential blow to our future economy no matter how you look at it. The cost savings today to the American companies are paid for in lost American jobs for future generations. This then begets a “Do you want fries with that” economy. An economic engine where two cars in every driveway, parents being able to send the next generation to college, and the demise of the American dream of home ownership will not be realistic to sustain.

Over at the New York Times they have a great piece on this subject by Louis Uchitelle…

“The big debate today is whether we can continue to be competitive in R&D when we are not making the stuff that we innovate,” she says. “I think not; the two can’t be separated.”

THE loss of manufacturing capacity, measured in lost workers, is startling. From the high point in the summer of 1979, through last month, employment in manufacturing has fallen by 8.1 million, to 11.6 million, with most of the drop in just the last decade. While consumers have benefited from lower prices, made possible by unrestricted imports, on the other side of the ledger are tens of billion of dollars in lost manufacturing wages.

Something else is gone, too. “We had a storehouse of knowledge and skill built up in these workers and we can’t use it now,” says James Jordan, president of the Interstate Maglev Project, promoting a high-speed rail technology that uses special magnets to levitate and propel trains. Maglev was invented in the United States, but equipment based on that technology is manufactured and used today in Japan.

Mr. Jordan argues that as manufacturing’s presence — and status — shrinks in America, the odds of a Henry Ford or a Thomas Edison or a Steve Jobs appearing in the next generation are reduced. -New York Times

How do we fix this? My thoughts are the same as they always have been. Make it costly to corporations that want to export existing manufacturing jobs out of the United States. When you come right down to it, we should have a “Keep the Jobs in America” campaign and it doesn’t matter which political party wants to get behind it. Either party that does back such a movement will deserve thumbs up from the next generation of innovators. People that will be thankful that they will not have to look forward to a thirty plus year career at Walmart stocking shelves full of products that used to be manufactured for good wages right here at home.

Feel free to comment and shout out on products no longer made in this country. It would be interesting to see a list of industries that have died but were born in the USA.

***Yet another related Posts from Gun Toting Liberal concerning Walmart and their selling out of America...


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is going to be one of the major topics in the next presidential election.

Is the issue that we have become too much of a "hand out society"? Now we have a giant welfare state that debates whther or not we should be providing free college to the children of illegal aliens and give them healthcare.

The only innovation going on is how to cheat the system. I was 27 and was between jobs. I had to drive a cab while I looked for work because I could do it at night. One night a Spanish woman/mother of 3 proposed I impregnate her. That awoke in me the sense that it is only the middle class, not the rich and not the poor who stick to the rules.

Did you even know what an "anchor baby" was a decade ago?

Now we have massive fraud going on and a real break down of what consititutes a "family". I know real people in my community who are addicted to getting pregnant and staing pregnant and we, the taxpayers, are supporting this lifestyle. It says nothing of the children from these arrangements, nor does it say anything about the expectation that the school system will be the rules enforcer, instead of the parents.

One of the things I remember and liked most about Reagan was the positive spin he put on the American experience and entrepreneurialism.

Having grown up in the liberal 70s and hearing how old world views were ridiculed by people like TV producer Norman Lear every night on telvision, the Reagan revolution was the great re-awakening, rekindling and rebirth of the potential of all Americans.

We have forgotten what it was like to be innovators, inventors and self reliant. At the beginning of this country's history, it was just ASSUMED that you, as a memeber of a community, would at least TRY to be self reliant. Isn't there pride in that?

It doesn't take a "village" to raise your children, folks. It takes a family.---ANON2

11:08 AM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

I agree Anon that this should be a serious topic for the next presidential election. Every single time you see another factory close here in America and the equipment to make the same goods shipped out of the country its is a political economic problem that has to be fixed.

The political conundrum is that business owners on BOTH sides of the political aisle are going to cry out that the government is trying to put them out of business when the opposite is true. When any business ships jobs overseas they are also shipping jobs that once paid taxes that once provided many of the safety nets our nation has that can and will be abused by people without a conscience. I'm not a big fan of people that abuse good intentioned programs.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Machinist said...

No manufacturer wants to relocate production outside the country. It is the anti-business laws, regulations, and legal climate that force them to do so as an alternative to going out of business.

People need to recognize that a barely literate,unskilled worker who is digging a ditch, cooking burgers or working a manual job in a factory is simply not productive enough to be paid a high wage with medical benefits and retirement. We have maintained high wages and a high standard of living by increasing productivity and efficiency. This requires motivated workers and innovative management. You don't get this with government bureaucrats who never ran a company or even held a private sector job in some cases, stepping in and running or interfering with businessmen.

I can't speak to today, but in my working lifetime about 95% of new inventions were American. This is not because we are smarter or better educated but because our founding fathers set up a patent system that protects and rewards ingenuity and creativity. We are by far the best country for a person who wants to devote years of their life inventing a better mouse trap and then reap the full rewards. In most other countries a man who spends ten years of his life inventing a better widget is approached by the Sockittome Corporation and offered $500,000 for his work. He can take the offer or he can watch as the Corporation steals his idea and ties him up in court for many years using the millions of dollars they make from his invention. This does not encourage innovation or invention.

American Industry created or world changing standard of living. Government meddling is only screwing it up and their solution is always yet more meddling.

No state controlled economy has ever come close to competing with ours.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Machinist said...

Dianne Feinstein tried to change that patent system so her husband could make more millions helping other countries steal our inventions. John Kerry was paid by a company that helped American companies move production offshore. Seeing these people and their associates blame "Corporate greed" is risible. We badly need much less government.

It is the people who built this country and made it great, not the government.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

Machinist, I think you agree with my post when it comes to American ingenuity and innovation. I think that it is a sound policy to have strong patent laws but if all you have left for an economy is people that can only stock shelves at Wally World or ask you if you want fries with your burger then the only innovations to come will be how to stock shelves better or serve fries quicker.

Or am I wrong in my thought process? How would you propose protect American jobs to keep our manufacturing base here in America?

2:55 PM  
Blogger Machinist said...

The government and the trial lawyers have to stop driving them out. An American made ladder that sells for $100.00 is a $75.00 ladder with $25.00 added to cover bogus law suits. How many people will pay $100.00 for an American ladder when you can get a $100.00 foreign made ladder for the same money or the same ladder made off shore for $75.00. Democrats have to stop groveling to the trial lawyers (not singling them out for all problems but the trial lawyers happen to be one of their big cash cows. The Republicans have their own. This is why ALL government needs to be reduced and brought to heel.), politicians have to stop buying votes and contributions with money looted from the economy, and business has to be allowed to operate properly.

This mass movement of jobs off shore came with government making business here uncompetitive. I am not talking about child labor and sweatshops here. I was a successful manager. I made my people more productive with the result that they could make more money and benefits while the company made more profits, and in the process the workplace was safer and quality was improved. My employees took pride in their abilities and put more pressure on new people or slackers than I could. What is that worth?

Everyone gained except our competition. Even our customers gained with greater accuracy, higher fill rates, and lower prices. None of this happened by government action or mandates. The essence of government interference is anti productivity and anti merit.

Government schools are turning out indoctrinated illiterates and government regulations are eliminating the jobs these illiterates could get and hold while learning skills to move up.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

We are on the same page Machinist when it comes to manufacturing jobs being needed here in the USA. Litigation and such is a problem but that isn't the solution. We need ideas to fix it.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Machinist said...

American have or will come up with the ideas. Just get the looters out of the way and let them do it. They have always come through when they were allowed to. They don't need the government's help or guidance, just get out of their way and protect them from the looters.

No one will invest their savings or their time in starting a business if they think the government, unions, and lawyers are going to steal from them and then demonize them for their trouble. risk, and hard work.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Damn good post and point's ... You got that rght Bubba!

6:41 AM  

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