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Why We Pine for Manufacturing

Posted August 09, 2016

Under Economic Issues, International Trade Issues


(Gary Sernovitz – The New Yorker)

While this year’s Democratic and Republican platforms don’t agree on much, aside from that the other party’s candidate will drive America into ruin, there is at least one area of unanimity: a phrase like “one of the best ways to innovate, prosper, and create good-paying jobs is to make more in America” could be an expression of Trumpian jingoism, Sandersonian egalitarianism, or mainstream thought of either party. (That particular line is from the Democrats’ platform.)

There is a bipartisan consensus that the shrinking of American manufacturing is a central story (or even the central story) of America today. No President has ever used the word “manufacturing” in his State of the Union messages as often as President Obama has. Donald Trump put the word “make” on the front of his cap, and at the center of his campaign.

Such emotional, political, and even existential attachment to manufacturing is strange, however. Manufacturing employs less than nine per cent of America’s workers, and other American industries are flourishing, here and abroad. Ask a Chinese amusement-park owner competing against the new Shanghai Disney Resort, a French taxi driver protesting Uber’s incursions into Paris, a Saudi prince fighting for market share against Texas shale, or an Indian scientist dreaming of Harvard, and they will tell you a story of American entertainment, technology, energy, agribusiness, aerospace, military, and research in ascendancy. Click here to read more.