Re­turn­ing to ‘Made in the USA’

Can­di­dates must ex­plain how they will bring back man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Joe Pis­copo

Now that the pres­i­den­tial race is in full swing, it’s time for ro­bust talk­ing about is­sues and cre­at­ing aware­ness about prob­lems, which only seem to come to light when the Amer­i­can public is fo­cused choos­ing a new na­tional leader. We’ve al­ready heard some sug­ges­tions that are mu­sic to my ears, like rad­i­cal over­haul of the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice, re­peal­ing Com­mon Core and restor­ing Amer­ica’s po­si­tion as a coun­try that’s se­cure at home and re­spected abroad.

There’s one key is­sue, though, which both can­di­dates and the press haven’t paid nearly enough at­ten­tion to and, in my view, could be the de­ter­min­ing is­sue for who sits in the White House in Jan­uary of 2017: restor­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs.

Dur­ing the past 20 years, it’s es­ti­mated that Amer­ica has lost more than 6 mil­lion man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs. Think about that. Th­ese were real jobs with real wages. Th­ese weren’t jobs flip­ping burg­ers or stack­ing shelves at a depart­ment store. Th­ese were jobs that al­lowed you to feed your kids, save for re­tire­ment and maybe go out to din­ner oc­ca­sion­ally.

What hap­pened? We’re told pretty of­ten th­ese days that with ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy, the in­ter­de­pen­dence on global trade and the in­creas­ing move to a re­tail and ser­vice­sec­tor econ­omy that th­ese jobs are lost and gone for good. I don’t buy it. We’ve seen a real econ­omy, with well-pay­ing jobs, re­placed with an econ­omy built on bub­ble af­ter bub­ble, with­out real wage growth. This is un­sus­tain­able.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs do sev­eral es­sen­tial things: They keep more money earned in a given com­mu­nity. If you work in a fac­tory or a tex­tile mill, you’re much more likely to spend your pay­check at Joe’s Diner (no re­la­tion) than the worker in China or Malaysia, who has re­placed far too many hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans.

Be­cause a man­u­fac­tur­ing job is some­thing you don’t nec­es­sar­ily need a de­gree for, I think you’d see a re­duc­tion in the rate of tu­ition growth and the stu­dent debt that comes with it.

It’s es­ti­mated that for ev­ery dollar spent in man­u­fac­tur­ing, an ad­di­tional $1.37 is added to the econ­omy. Think about that. What are we do­ing?

By cre­at­ing more man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, we’ll also cre­ate more tax­pay­ers in­stead of peo­ple push­ing un­em­ploy­ment to the max or shuf­fling be­tween jobs with wages so low that they’re forced to rely on sub­si­dies.

What can we do about it? The first thing the public needs to do is de­mand that ev­ery pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of ev­ery party puts forth a plan for the restora­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs.

The sad fact is, aside from for­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum, I haven’t heard many can­di­dates talk about the need for bring­ing back man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The next thing the public needs to do might be a bit dif­fi­cult: buy Amer­i­can. I’m thrilled at the ini­tia­tives from peo­ple such as John Ratzen­berger (“Cliff” from “Cheers”) to mar­ket “Made in the USA” goods, but when I drive the streets of Jer­sey, I see car af­ter car made abroad. When I per­form around the coun­try, I see au­di­ences wear­ing cloth­ing made in Viet­nam and China. Why would we be sup­port­ing Com­mu­nist coun­tries pay­ing chil­dren 10 cents an hour in­stead of sup­port­ing our own peo­ple? Con­sumers should be will­ing to spend an ex­tra dollar in or­der to save our coun­try.

The next thing we need to do is lower the cor­po­rate tax rate. We have the high­est cor­po­rate tax rate in the in­dus­tri­al­ized world. When we chase our busi­nesses over­seas with an oner­ous tax code, is it any won­der that they leave?

An­other key com­po­nent has to in­volve rais­ing the min­i­mum wage so low-wage work­ers can ac­tu­ally af­ford some of the prod­ucts made here. Hand in hand with an in­crease in the min­i­mum wage, though, there should be tax breaks for small busi­nesses, so la­bor costs don’t crip­ple the back­bone of our econ­omy.

This is a golden op­por­tu­nity for the Repub­li­cans. Start cre­at­ing jobs and you’ll start see­ing union Democrats and ur­ban vot­ers vot­ing Repub­li­can for the first time in a gen­er­a­tion. If they don’t cap­i­tal­ize on this, the Democrats should. If nei­ther party does, then the public should de­mand an in­de­pen­dent al­ter­na­tive.

The bot­tom line is that we’re get­ting to a sit­u­a­tion where noth­ing is made here. Let’s use the pur­chas­ing power of a strong dollar, cou­pled with low oil prices, to in­vest in man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Dur­ing World War II, all of our na­tion’s fac­to­ries worked over­time to build war ma­te­ri­als. If we’re get­ting to a point where there are no more fac­to­ries, where would we build the weapons needed to pro­tect our na­tion in the next war?

When can­di­dates come to ask for your vote, ask them how they’ll re­store man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs.

Does it bother any­one else that we’re bor­row­ing money from China in or­der to buy goods made in China? It has to stop.

I know I’m an un­likely spokesman for this. While, I’ve worked my share of “blue-col­lar” jobs, I’ve never worked in a fac­tory, and the clos­est I’ve come to a steel mill is the steel-colored hair­piece, when I played Mr. Sinatra on “Satur­day Night Live” but as a spokesman for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Amer­ica, I’ve seen the rem­nants of cities that have been de­stroyed by the ex­o­dus of man­u­fac­tur­ers, and I’ve seen what it leaves be­hind: crime, poverty and strug­gle.

Let’s get back to ba­sics. Made in USA prod­ucts, fair trade and buy­ing Amer­i­can. Not only will our econ­omy re­cover, but so will our sense of pa­tri­o­tism.

Joe Pis­copo is an ac­tor, co­me­dian and host of “The Joe Pis­copo Show” on AM 970 The An­swer in New York.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY GREG GROESCH/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

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