Rebuilding America's Manufacturing Jobs and Industrial Capability

04/14/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Stewart Acuff Utility Workers Union of America, Chief of Staff & Assistant to President

Any student in any beginning economics class soon learns that the way a nation or a society creates wealth is by making things or building things other people want to buy and are willing to pay for.

The Financial Elite figure out one way for them to maximize their wealth and power is to use poor people with no power in places like China and Indonesia to build things and sell them back to America.

To re-create Middle Class jobs, to get back to creating wealth by making things, to stop the Financial Elite from forcing American workers to compete with slave labor in China and child labor in parts of Latin America and Asia we have to restore common sense rules governing imports and exports. Our government must provide incentives for investments in domestic manufacturing and disincentives for oppressing workers in America and across the developing world.

We have to get back to creating wealth again not by manipulating money in ways that only benefit the Financial Elite.

American workers are some of the most skilled and productive workers in the world. We can build what we need here, what we use here. We can build and make here what other people need. We don't have to import cheap goods and export good jobs.

But it will take government and action by all of us. It will take a government willing to negotiate trade deals that protect workers rights and freedoms, that honor unions, that outlaw exploitation of workers here and abroad. If our government can negotiate trade deals that protect the investments of the Financial Elite, it can negotiate trade deals that protect the economic security of the United States and its people.

Our government also needs to provide incentives to re-develop manufacturing in the United States. Countries with a strong Middle Class and higher wages than we have and lower unemployment have government policies to encourage domestic or home-grown manufacturing and production and discourage worker exploitation. Countries like Canada and Germany and Sweden and Denmark and Brazil and South Africa are growing or maintaining a Middle Class by investing in and providing incentives for domestic manufacturing. These governments work with businesses and unions to protect Middle Class jobs and to protect investment internally.

When Europe came together to create a unified economic system, the European Union, they did it in a way to raise the standard of living in Portugal and Spain, not lower the standard of living in Germany and Sweden. We have been doing just the opposite.

When the United States entered World War II we took the manufacturing capacity that had been created in Chicago and Detroit and Flint and Toledo and Akron and Pittsburgh and turned it to manufacturing the munitions and tanks and rifles and planes that the allies used to defeat Nazism, Fascism, and Japanese Imperialism.

Not just our economic security but our national security demands we re-build our ability to create wealth and to protect the economic and national security of the United States.