Carl Pope on “America’s Dirty War Against Manufacturing”
In part one of a three-part Bloomberg News series, Carl Pope, the former chairman of the Sierra Club explores “America’s Dirty War Against Manufacturing.”
Pope begins with an anecdote about a recent visit he took to a new clean-energy, bench-scale test facility, “one of the Valley’s hottest clean-technology startups” and the brainchild of a NASA engineer turned entrepreneur.
When he questioned his host about where he planned to manufacture his products, Pope was shocked to discover that the entrepreneur considered outsourcing to be the company’s only viable option: “I’d love to make this product in America, he told Pope. But I’m afraid I won’t be able to.”
Like most Americans, Pope automatically assumed that this decision was related to the lower costs of labor abroad. He was shocked to learn, though, that wages had very little to do with this decision—or similar decisions made by thousands of other American companies. In fact, he soon discovered that “it’s everything else” that’s driving manufacturing abroad.
Pope notes that this “everything else” can be attributed to U.S government policies that prevent American manufacturing from flourishing in the way that it does in countries such as Germany and Japan, where the government plays a proactive role in protecting and encouraging domestic industry.
He cites tax policy and varying regulations as two of the biggest roadblocks to the continued production of goods historically manufactured in the U.S., and, even more alarming, the loss of “tomorrow’s manufacturing” of the high-tech goods that drive the global economy.
Pope sums it up nicely when he states that “We are not victims of an impersonal Leviathan called “globalization.” We’re the suckers who allowed our government to sacrifice the manufacturing sector while protecting the real winners: commodities, intellectual property, finance and agribusiness. The U.S. didn’t lose its manufacturing leadership; it threw it away.”
Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), we’ve long advocated for the implementation of a comprehensive plan to address much-needed revisions for America's tax, trade, infrastructure, and educational policies that can help to restore industrial competitiveness. Click here to learn more about AAM’s plan for a national manufacturing strategy.
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