Let the Campaign Begin
If you picked up the local newspaper paper this week or turned on CNN, you’d never guess the Presidential election was more than 18 months away. But already it seems impossible to escape the microscopic analysis of the candidates that usually come towards the end of the election season. Take for example, Obama’s “questionable stock sales” or commentary on the potential electability of a “flip-flop” Republican Mormon from Massachusetts. Or what about Hilary’s “turn it on turn it off” on demand Southern drawl?
Unfortunately, despite the entertainment value commentary this brings, it tells us nothing about the candidates―and what they’ll do for the U.S. manufacturing economy if elected. So we thought it might be useful and appropriate to tack-up our suggested economic policy stances on the shop-floor wall. If we hear any of the dozen or so candidates adopt these perspectives, we should all breathe easier. But if they don’t, watch out for a domestic manufacturing downturn.
To begin, the Surplus Record platform supports trade and competition (wherever feasibly possibly). For example, government monopolies such as the postal service―which stifle and make competition illegal, in fact―should be broken up or at least forced to compete in a market environment. From a trade perspective, we should encourage reduced tariffs and duties provided that the countries (e.g., China) exporting to the U.S. open their borders in similar ways. The last thing our manufacturing economy can afford is a trade war, and isolation, as France will attest to, is a recipe for economic disaster. That is, unless you’re comfortable with a 10%+ unemployment rate.
Outside of trade and competition, our Federal government should take a hard look at maintaining a pro immigration policy that not only brings in the world’s best and brightest engineering minds to study State-side, but encourages them to remain once their academic work is complete. Even though our science and engineering universities remain the best in the world, the future of product and manufacturing innovation will look bleak if we can’t get the best and brightest to take up residency in the U.S. But because personal taxes are less, or easier to avoid paying in countries like India and China, scientists and engineers have little incentive to remain in the U.S. once they complete their research (not to mention the fact the political climate is not exactly pro-immigration). Along similar lines, we should also encourage the right types of investment in math and science education starting on the primary and secondary level (note however, that simply throwing money at the problem is a recipe for disaster, especially if the teacher’s union is involved).
From a minimum wage standpoint, we believe that the Federal government should let individual states decide what is best (and then let companies vote with their feet if they want to remain in their given locale). Even though the minimum wage is only indirectly important in manufacturing and becoming less so, considering the future of domestic production is primarily in higher cost skilled rather than unskilled labor, it does impact the overall economy and job growth. In this regard, the next President should focus on maintaining low unemployment and improving productivity rather than going down a social engineering path that tries to tow a middle ground between a free market for labor and union-driven political favors.
So that’s the Surplus Record Presidential Platform for the 2008 Presidential election. And we’d hope that if you’re involved in domestic manufacturing today, that you would encourage similar policy ideas as well. For if we don’t hang together and encourage the right type of Federal policies that will drive domestic manufacturing then we might as well just read the campaign news headlines for entertainment value and flip a coin next November.