FOCUS/midwest

Founded in 1962 by Charles L. Klotzer

An industrial policy for America’s new Appalachia

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Brain drain.closed factory

Low income.

Vanishing factory jobs.

Welcome to the Rust Belt.

Hard to believe this was the Greatest Generation’s arsenal of democracy.

Today, the industrial Midwest looks more like the arsenal of despair.
We’re the New Appalachia.

Just run that idea around the brain.

Almost half the states of the old Confederacy report higher income-per-job than a place like Indiana.

Nothing can alter that fact soon.

It could get worse.

People who study this stuff, the economists, they think factory jobs won’t come back in great numbers like after the ’82 recession.

So how do we get the train back on the track?

Listen to this guy:

“The good news is that, at least for the United States, we’re going to have a manufacturing renaissance.”

Clyde Prestowitz Jr. is talking.

Remember him? He was a trade negotiator in President Ronald Reagan’s White House. He correctly predicted Japan would export its way to prosperity. He correctly predicted China would export its way to prosperity. Now he says the United States can export its way to prosperity.

That’s right.

Indeed, the sure way out of this economic mess we’re in, he says, is to export our way out.

How do you do that?

Manufacturing. Made in the U.S.A.

It’s what we’re real good at around here. Or, at least, it’s what we once were good at.

Here’s the problem now.

Here’s why there will be no sudden renaissance. It is not the brain drain, low pay or the worn factories. Those are not the problems. Those are symptoms.

The problem, Prestowitz says, is in Washington, D.C.

We have no industrial policy favoring exports.

We have no industrial policy.

Japan and China shut out our goods. We willingly take theirs.

Why?

“We think we’re playing a free-market, free-trade game,” Prestowitz said. “When I was in the government, we assumed Japan was playing the same game. They weren’t. Japan was playing a game called catch up — or export-led growth.”

Catch up.

Nice game.

It’s time to tell New Appalachia’s leaders it is time they learn the game. — Ted Evanoff

Evanoff, a veteran journalist, covers the auto industry and the economy for The Indianapolis Star. Read more here.

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Written by writer. Edited by editor.

May 26, 2009 at 11:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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