Manufacturing has been in decline for many years in our country. The national GDP is more reliant on financial instruments that do not add anything of worth to the country, than we do on manufacturing, which creates wealth and worth. This is more than just an economic issue though, it turns out that this is and will be even more so in the future, a national security issue.
A new report authored by Dr. Joel Yudken, he discovered that the erosion of our manufacturing base in the United States has left massive gaps in our nation’s national security. In the Yudken report titled, Manufacturing Insecurity he states that, “there are advanced technologies critical to military systems—armor plate steel, defense-specific integrated circuits, night vision goggles—for which domestic sources are inadequate.”
Dr. Yudken quotes Col. Michael Cole, of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, who observes:
the problem is not just a matter of a handful of highly specialized items designed to meet narrow defense requirements, but the “eradication of U.S. industry capability.” He also warns that current strategies to deal with an industrial base that increasingly is unable to supply the military with manufactured parts and electronic components are not working.
The report also indicates that a substantial number of items once supplied by manufactures in the U.S. are now obtained from foreign suppliers because they are “not readily available from U.S. producers.”
At a forum on April 14th, 2011, hosted by the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, the Coalition for a Prosperous America, the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department, and the Alliance for American Manufacturing Dr. Yudken presented his findings.
AFL-CIO’s BOB BAUGH: What happens to our national security when our manufacturing base is destroyed? It’s interconnected.
REPORT AUTHOR JOEL YUDKEN: Let’s look at this more broadly than the defense department. Look at entire cross-section of industrial base, evaluate health of entire manufacturing sector. Across the board, there is a sustained erosion across the manufacturing sector. These are industries critical for national defense. R&D and innovation also affected.
YUDKEN: Some data: 6 million jobs lost in past decade. This includes lost expertise in niche areas. Manufacturing’s value added growth has fallen tremendously. Industrial capacity has declined. 57,000 lost manufacturing plants. Steady growth of U.S. trade deficit. Very worrying: a trade deficit in Advanced Technology Products since 2002.
YUDKEN: 13 of 16 key defense industrial sectors show clear erosion. Two key areas for defense that are declining– semiconductors and printed circuitboards. At the same time, China is building up its capacity.
YUDKEN: Other examples– advanced materials, specialty metals, rare earth metals, stainless steel, machine tools. Specific applications include night vision goggles. China gaining an advantage through subsidies and other predatory actions.
YUDKEN: Aerospace helps improve our trade balance, yet we’re losing ground in this sector, in part due to offsets (production is required to be moved overseas as condition of contract with foreign supplier). Offsets reach as much as 70% of overall contract.
YUDKEN: Offsets lead to U.S. technology being transferred overseas.
YUDKEN: The overall result: innovation and technological development are eroding, moving overseas. U.S. losing its world leadership position in technology innovation. U.S. has been building up for 50 years, but now it is eroding.
YUDKEN: If we lose the know-how embodied in trained workforce, we lose foundation of industrial sector.
YUDKEN: What we need to correct this: Buy America policies, national manufacturing strategy.
So as we can see, it is not just menial manufacturing jobs, like clothing and toy manufacturers, that are leaving this country. High tech jobs are also leaving, jobs that involve specialized training, such as with semi-conductors and circuit boards. This problem affects the entire American economy and our national strength.
Our economy is sitting on sifting sand rather than a strong foundation. We need our leaders to stand up and be accounted and fight corporations who seeking to undermine the American worker, in favor of larger dividend checks. This not a left,right, conservative or liberal issue. In my view even the tea party should grab a hold of this and support it.
The conservative leaders like to tout the free market and free trade, but they also like to appear tough on national security. This presents them with an ideological conundrum. “Buy American” provisions are viewed as protectionist in the eyes of conservatives, but sometimes, protectionism, protects our country and our citizens.
Image: Daily Speculations