by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Obama has new priorities. That means new spending.
In his State of the Union, he said, “The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem.” But then he went on to list how, under his guidance, government will solve a thousand problems, including some (like climate change and a loss of manufacturing jobs) that are probably not even problems.
The president bragged about creating “our first manufacturing innovation institute” in Ohio and says that he will create 15 more. Politicians claim actions like this are needed to solve the “decline of manufacturing” in America. John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Pat Buchanan also fret about this. But what they call “decline” is myth. There is no decline in manufacturing.
The Federal Reserve says that U.S. manufacturing output is up from 2000, and up almost 50 percent from 1990. Yes, manufacturing employment is down because automation and government’s labor rules led companies to automate and produce more with fewer employees, but that’s OK.
Manufacturing jobs are no better than other jobs. Few parents today prefer their children work in factories rather than offices.
When the need for people in one type of industry decreases — say, making wagon wheels — they are freed up to work in other areas. What America needs is a flexible economy that provides new jobs. For years, we had that.
Workers who lost factory jobs found new work in the fast-growing service industry. Creating software, movies and medical innovation is just as valuable as manufacturing and often more comfortable for workers. Anyway, politicians don’t know where new jobs will appear.