Let me confess that I was wrong. For the past 20 years at least, I have tacitly agreed with politicians and corporate titans of every political stripe who were acquiescent in the offshoring of American manufacturing.
I bought the line that the best way to leverage America’s intellectual capital – the bright minds that think up things like smartphones and digital medical imaging – was to consign the repetitive, boring, prosaic task of manufacturing those devices to places like China.
Yes, that Chinese worker is being paid a pittance, I told myself. But it’s more than he‘d be making as a dirt farmer, which would be the case if he weren’t making my iPhone. And absent those low wages, most of us wouldn’t be able to afford an iPhone.
We’re the architects, I told myself. We design the mansion. We pay someone else to build it.
Most of our politicians went along. Joe Biden is still going along. Here he his from one of his presidential campaign events.
JOE BIDEN (May 7, 2019)
China is going to eat our lunch? C’mon man. You know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re n-n-n-not competition for us.”
When I was going along what I didn’t consider is the fact that if offshoring manufacturing makes economic sense for a smartphone maker, it will also make sense in other industries. If our public policy actually promotes the seeking of the cheapest labor available on the planet regardless of all other considerations, we shouldn’t be surprised when the once-invincible American manufacturing sector hangs up its cleats.
And then along comes the coronavirus and an attendant wake-up call. We suddenly become aware of the fact that untold numbers of things – things that are absolutely essential to the health of our economy as well as to our very bodies – are manufactured in a totalitarian country that will stick it to us the first time it suits their convenience.
Prior to now, did you understand that antibiotics and key components in things like medical ventilators, x-ray machines, and hospital beds are all made almost exclusively in China – as in, there’s no other practical source? Did you understand that? Because I didn’t.
I do now.
And I now also understand why a real estate mogul from New York was saying this in April of 2010.
DONALD TRUMP (April 6, 2010)
You know, we don’t manufacture anything anymore in this country. We do health care. We do lots of different services. But the big service is manufacturing. Everything is made in China, for the most part. China, India and others, but China in particular. Frankly, they’re sending stuff over here and we’re paying for it and, you know, it’s sort of interesting. Very little tax, if any paid, and yet you can’t do business in China, you’re not allowed to do business in China, it’s almost impossible to do business in China. But they take our business from North Carolina, from South Carolina, from Alabama. They make toys. They then sell ‘em to this country. They make tremendous profits and then they loan this country money in the form of treasuries. And I think it’s terrible.”
Donald Trump’s critics – including very recently Joe Biden – call him a xenophobe. If the reality of China as we now understand it makes one a xenophobe, call me one, too.
Yep, once again, Donald Trump was right. If there is a bright side to the China virus dark cloud, it is that it has brought our stark and dangerous manufacturing dependence on China into high relief. On the other side of the virus is a new world in which all countries, not just ours, end their China dependence and return to manufacturing at home. In the shorter term the Coronavirus will kill a lot of people. In the longer term it will kill China’s economy. Despite the death toll, the China Virus may ultimately be one of the best things that could ever happen to us.
Excellent piece, Mr. Gleiser
As the late great Bob Hope said in featured television commercial…
“Made In The U.S.A., It Matters!”
It surely does and it is key to our economic well being and national security as a country.
Amen and pass the Idaho taters, Wisconsin cheese, and Blue Bell ice cream made in Texas!
Encouraging to see this situation being taken more seriously now. We’re all in the same boat.
Yes Paul, you hit the nail on the head with the comment about a real estate mogul from New York being able to predict this major vulnerability. He was also a private citizen and now does not take a salary, and gave up a very comfortable lifestyle to fight this enormous threat to our country. I do not think that there is another person in the U.S. who would submit his family and himself to the vicious attacks that they have endured. If you look at each one of these Democrat candidates, it is clear that the only thing they have accomplished is their exceptional ability to feed at the government trough. To be fair, there are a lot of Republican pigs who are squealing at any attempts to dislodge them from the very generous government teats. We can all be justified in criticizing some of his remarks and not being woke enough, but just remember, President Trump is not a politician. Thank God he is not, as the politicians put us in this vulnerable situation. I am encouraged by Holland being encouraged, as we will always prevail when we are in the same boat and rowing in the same direction.
It is so sad that it took a world-wide viral pandemic to wake up the open-border and international outsourcing advocates (globalists) who habitually sold off our great culture of innovation, invention, and American ingenuity (to CARE firstly for our own well-being) to finally SEE THE LIGHT. It now turns out that we Americans along with God’s mercy and help, NOT the internationalists, will save us and what remains of the rest of the world to recover from the physical, mental, family and financial pain that we and the world must now overcome. Hopefully, appropriate self-sufficiency at the family, church, community, state, and lastly at the federal level, in that order, will be our focus in the future for many generations to come. Effective CARE for the well-being for one another starts at home and diminishes the farther you try to elevate this CARE from the top down. This is the principle that made America great and will work again if we stick to it!
Holy Tyler Invasion Batman! Do you all remember not too long ago, the City of Tyler turned down the efforts of a Chinese group wanting to build a small city on the west side and bring in 4,000 Chinese to Tyler! Remember that? Remember how they sold it; I do. Thank our lucky stars this did not happen. I am holding back on my thoughts; but that idea smelled of rotting saltwater fish from the get go.
Thanks Michael for reminding us of that near miss! We tend to forget such attempts, which sound so appealing and are occurring daily in cities around our country. It becomes very difficult to oppose a communist regime when it has such a large footprint in the economy of your community. Kudos to those who had the foresight to vote against that project. Yep, not only was there a stench of rotting fish, but there was an aroma of a “wet market”, which as we have painfully experienced, causes a lot of headaches!