Both President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, have named jobs, and specifically manufacturing jobs, as a priority. But it is unclear whether either candidate appreciates the key reason to preserve and grow manufacturing in America.
Obama and Romney are flying in and out of cities like Cleveland so often, they probably recognize the baggage handlers at the airport. I just hope they hang around long enough to see what I discovered: The Rust Belt is our future. And not in a bad way.
Beyond just suggesting that consumers buy more American-made goods or that we adjust our trade deficit, but logistically speaking, how can manufacturing really save our country? How does this create more jobs and stimulate the economy, exactly?
How many people in our workforce today do you think possess more talent, skill, creativity and intelligence than their current job requires or even allows? Does it make sense to you that we have to do more with less, yet the majority of people are still seen as bodies instead of brains?
Today marks the official launch of a new annual "Manufacturing Day," an initiative sponsored by public and private organizations to highlight the critically important role the manufacturing sector plays in our economy.
Since World War II, Democratic administrations have, on average, added between 160,000 and 250,000 manufacturing jobs each year they have been in office. Republican administrations have lost manufacturing jobs at about the same rate.
We need to change our attitudes about what kind of products we buy, and what kind of jobs are good enough for our children. We need to have a serious national discussion on the role of manufacturing and industry in creating national wealth and stability.
It's time for us as a nation to let go of the past and look to the future of manufacturing. Today's manufacturing jobs require specialized skills -- and workers with the right training are in high demand.
Some have given up on American industry, saying manufacturing jobs are not coming back. Business leaders beg to differ, evidenced by growing efforts at reshoring and a recommitment to the "Made in America" label.
We have lost hard-won capacity that will take enormous investment to get back. We lost a large part of our ability to make a living in this world. And now we are feeling the consequences of these losses.