Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness
by Dan DiMicco
Do you want to build an economy? Well, you can make burgers, or you can make things—and making burgers, warns the former CEO of steel giant Nucor, is a fast track to immiseration.
For the last 30 years, writes DiMicco, the United States has followed a course whereby jobs have fled the country for cheaper labor markets while our own economy has been converted from manufacturing to service. “We went out of our way to dismantle what made this country great,” he writes, “while other countries around the world are building their way to greatness.” Even as DiMicco was propounding arguments on Capitol Hill for the creation of 200,000 high-paying jobs per month over a five-year span, Congress was finding ways to hobble so-called free trade, cutting deals with the corporate giants that allowed them to outsource their operations at no penalty and regulating incoming manufacturers to such an extent that they boarded up shop and returned to their home countries. The infrastructure crisis is fast crippling the nation, and everyone knows it except, it seems, Congress, which is reluctant to spend a dime if it means raising taxes on the wealthy or on corporations. “I wouldn’t even classify infrastructure spending as ‘spending,’ ” writes the author, who’s no one’s idea of a squishy liberal. “It’s a public investment that pays dividends for decades”—and, he adds, every dollar of infrastructure spending adds $1.59 in gross domestic product. A no-brainer? Well, he suggests, a lack of brains is what has gotten us into a mess that can be fixed only by building our way to solvency—a seeming impossibility since Congress once again refused to build a “buy America” plank into the last series of stimulus packages.
Common-sensical—perhaps too much so for policymakers to stomach—and plainspoken. Free trade absolutists and corporate apologists will hate it, but as for the rest, it’s worthy of much discussion.
Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issued: February 1, 2015
American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness.
DiMicco, Dan (Author)
Mar 2015. 256 p. Palgrave, hardcover, $27. (9781137279798). 338.4.
The U.S. will never reclaim its position of global economic leader or reestablish the strength of the middle class unless it rebuilds its manufacturing sector, argues DiMicco, chairman of Nucor. From his vantage at the steel manufacturer, DiMicco has watched American trade and economic policy that has for generations dismantled the manufacturing sector by pushing free trade and failing to provide incentives for American manufacturers to stay in business at home. He offers blistering criticism of politicians from both parties for maintaining ideological positions at the expense of focusing on the economy and creating jobs.
Challenging government data on unemployment that hide the reality of thousands who are no longer even looking for work, DiMicco laments the reliance on job building in the financial and service sector and the lack of understanding about the importance of actually making things. In a plainspoken style, DiMicco analyzes U.S. economic and trade policies since WWII to establish the roots of our current economic troubles. Clearly and passionately, he offers solutions for economic recovery through investing in infrastructure and encouraging innovation.
— Vanessa Bush