By his own advisers?
If you were paying attention to the campaign of 2008, you will remember that President Obama extolled the virtues of high-tech American manufacturing, claiming that America had no equal in the race to high-tech innovation and manufacturing.
President Obama ceded the low ground, the low technology manufacturing industries, to other countries such as China, Indonesia, Mexico and puppy countries wagging their tails in obvious delight. President Obama warned Americans that American jobs in the low-tech manufacturing world had been lost permanently and for us not to wish that those jobs would be coming back. Merely wishing and hoping would be counterproductive. America instead, said the then Democratic presidential candidate, must concentrate on high tech manufacturing, specifically green-energy manufacturing, bullet trains and futuristic products.
Did the candidate Obama come to the conclusion that traditional manufacturing was gone forever on his own, or was he led to it?
The last four years have been cruel to Mr. Obama’s vision. The myth that America could make significant strides in high-tech, green energy, bullet-trains, robotics, etc. was exploded in midair. Soon after his inauguration it became clear that other countries, such as China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, etc. were already leading us by a mile in high-tech, green energy, bullet trains, robotics, etc. manufacturing.
We knew we could no longer profitably manufacture low-tech products such as clothing, radios, TVs, mass electronic products. Turned out we couldn’t compete in high-tech manufacturing either.
So what do young Americans do? Do they just work at Wal-Mart, Target, McDonalds? Or do they sell each other real estate and insurance? Or do they all study acting (we’re still undisputed leaders in movie and TV production), or become nurses and nurses’ aides?
If young Americans concentrate on service and entertainment industries and accept what is seemingly their destiny – the disappearance of our manufacturing industries – what kind of future will they have? Wages at $10 an hour. Few benefits at the job. Renting instead of owning their houses. Scrimping and saving for decades to afford the huge down payments on their major purchases. Living with mom and dad for extended periods until they are up on their own feet.
Our children face an uncertain future, and the President dropped the ball.
Thank God we all live in the present – not the past. For, despite the four lost years when President Obama did not act dramatically to halt the flight of American jobs overseas – mainly to China – he still has an opportunity to resurrect his image as a defender of American manufacturing.
Talk about being lucky. Whatever your political persuasion may be, I’m sure that you will agree that Mr. Obama is a man of destiny. It seems that the stars have always aligned for him and he is now poised to enter our history books with an aura of greatness.
Yes, greatness comes a-knockin’ at the President’s door. But will he open that door?
The most efficient use of the world’s capital resources is to manufacture everything in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. But is this what we Americans want? Are we to become a nation of sales clerks?
Mr. Obama has an opportunity to answer that question. He may want to answer that with a resounding “Hell, no!” If he says that and acts on his visceral response decisively, he will be remembered as the President who brought manufacturing back to the U.S. Will he do it? I think so, since he already has proved his economic nationalism by saving the American car manufacturing industry.
These are the steps that President Obama must take, and he’d better get started right away:
1. The President, acting in concert with the U.S. Congress, must invoke Chapter X of the World Trade Organization charter to advocate an amendment to the charter. This amendment will allow members of WTO to unilaterally make changes in the way they conduct international trade within their borders in cases where local manufacturing is being killed by globalization.
2. The President shall announce to the world a new American doctrine: 51% of all manufactured products sold within the borders of the United States will have to have the Made in U.S.A. label. I have called this the “Proposed New American Doctrine.” The President, if he wishes, could call it the Obama doctrine.
3. If the amendment to the WTO charter is rejected, the U.S. may consider the nuclear option, which is to opt out of the World Trade Organization. This is of course extreme and must be the very last resort.
4. President Obama must argue before the League of Seven or Eight – the leaders of the free world – that America will not stand by as its manufacturing industries are dismantled and shipped abroad, impoverishing our small towns – especially our one-company small towns.
5. President Obama should go on a world tour encouraging other countries to adopt a policy similar to our 51% because this would mean that the world’s major manufacturers will have to set up factories and hire local people and in the process strengthen the middle classes in those countries.
The world’s leaders who follow the U.S. lead will discover that a variant of the U.S. 51% doctrine would be the best thing they could do for their own countries.
The end result will be a redefinition of free trade. Free trade must protect the jobs in all countries that engage in it. It should not be used as an instrument that multinationals and awakening giants such as China or India or Mexico or Brazil can use to destroy wittingly or otherwise manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and other countries.
By Jules Lombard
(Jules Lombard is a pen name. He has been the only writer – so far – of the posts in this blog. He prefers comments to be posted in the blog, but if the reader wishes to communicate with him directly, his email address is: JulesLombard88@gmail.com. He receives a lot of mail and comments and cannot promise that all communication will receive a reply. He tweets as @JLombard88.)