Saturday, August 07, 2010

‘Making it in America’

-- 63 percent of voters feel that working people who make things are being forgotten while Wall Street and banks get bailouts.
-- 57 percent believe that manufacturing is more central to our economic strength than high-tech, knowledge, or financial service sectors.
-- 78 percent favor “a national manufacturing strategy to make sure that economic, tax, labor, and trade policy in the country work together to help support manufacturing in the United States.”
Those and other results of a recent poll of likely voters are fortifying Democratic leaders' plans to give priority to a pro-manufacturing jobs agenda in Congress prior to the November mid-term elections. The poll and sessions with six focus groups confirm that the electorate is indeed deeply unhappy but unified in the conviction that Congress should take action on a pro-manufacturing agenda.

In reaction, the Wall Street Journal belittled the government’s ability to choose “winners and losers,” apparently wanting a monopoly for Wall Street itself.

From another perspective, President Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, published a New York Times article on July 31 on the four “destructive changes” responsible for the economic crisis. On one of them “the hollowing out” of the American economy, he wrote:

“Having lived beyond our means for decades by borrowing heavily from abroad, we have steadily sent jobs and production offshore. In the past decade, the number of high-value jobs in goods production and in service categories like trade, transportation, information technology and the professions has shrunk by 12 percent, to 68 million from 77 million. The only reason we have not experienced a severe reduction in non-farm payrolls since 2000 is that there has been a gain in low-paying, often part-time positions in places like bars, hotels and nursing homes.

“It is not surprising, then, that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1 percent of Americans — paid mainly from the Wall Street casino — received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90 percent — mainly dependent on Main Street’s shrinking economy — got only 12 percent. This growing wealth gap is not the market’s fault. It’s the decaying fruit of bad economic policy.”

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