Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

One of the things that makes America a stable First World country with a prosperous Middle Class is that our workers earn a good living.  They earn good wages, and thus can contribute to their community and tax base, can afford healthcare, and can spend their income in ways that ripple beneficially throughout the rest of the economy.

However, if their wages were to fall lower and lower, their standard of living would fall.  State and federal governments would go further into debt.  The negative effects would be felt throughout the country.

In short, America depends on a well-paid, stable Middle Class.

You wouldn't think that, though, if you took the word of people like New York Times columnist David Brooks.  In a piece today that ostensibly addresses medicare entitlements, Brooks casually celebrates the falling wages of U.S. manufacturing workers:

The Boston Consulting Group foresees a manufacturing renaissance as Chinese wages rise and workers in low-cost states like Mississippi find they can compete once again.

What Brooks is saying is, "Hey, great.  We can pay our workers less.  Now we'll be competitive."

But this demonstrates exactly the sort of snobbery and elitism that has gotten the nation into such a pickle in the first place.  To Brooks, blue-collar workers are simply an abstration: Isn't it great that they have a minimum wage job?  Now we can compete with those darn Chinese.

Here are two quick slaps of reality for Mr. Brooks:

1. No one should envision or hope for a low-wage U.S. manufacturing workforce.  That would mean a further nail in the coffin of the American Middle Class.

2. It is illegal dumping, subsidies, and currency manipulation that give China's manufacturers a price advantage over U.S. firms, not the well-deserved wages given to the skilled men and women who keep our factories running.

Let's hope Mr. Brooks' vision doesn't come true.