Host: Joe Messina
Guest: Andrew O. Smith
Topic: Manufacturing Jobs: Drying Up? Why?
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The Real Side with Joe Messina – April 10, 2013
Joe’s guest on The Real Side today: author Andrew O. Smith, who wrote “Sand in the Gears: How Public Policy Has Crippled American Manufacturing”
What is slowing down American manufacturing? It’s not a matter of quality, says Smith. Manufacturing jobs peaked in the late 70’s in the U.S. from a high of about 21 million jobs, to about 12 million. Smith attributes this decline to six main reasons: United States tax policy, healthcare policy, legal policy,, workers compensation policies, government regulations, and labor policies.
On “Sand in the Gears”- American manufacturing has been on the decline for at least two generations; that fact is plain to any observer who travels through the Rust Belt of the Midwest, where the closing of steel plants and automobile factories has created ghost towns that dot the landscape. It is also clear in the dormant New England textile mills, whose owners surrendered their production first to cheaper mills in the Southeast before they, in turn, lost out to Asian labor.What caused this calamity, and what can be done about it?
Andrew Smith argues that we lost our manufacturing not to forces beyond our control, such as globalization and cheaper labor overseas, but as the result of misguided policies that are well within our abilities to reform for the benefit of manufacturing. Examining six areas of public policy—the tax system, health care, the legal system, workers’ compensation, government regulations, and labor policy—Smith demonstrates that in each of these areas, the current policy choices have created a hostile environment for manufacturing. Grounding his arguments not in polemic or ideology but in historical analysis and current research, Smith illustrates his points with real-world examples to show how a “new social compact” can fix the problems that manufacturers face without sacrificing public policy goals.
About Joe’s guest: ANDREW O. SMITH is a manufacturing executive and former consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton with a long-standing interest in economic policy. As chief operating officer of the Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corporation, one of the largest independent paint companies in the United States, he has firsthand experience running a diverse chemical manufacturing company. Smith earned an engineering degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and a finance degree from the Wharton School, both at the University of Pennsylvania. He also earned a JD and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.
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