Polemics & Exchanges

On Saving Manufacturing

Scott P. Richert (“Bleeding Red, Feeling Blue,” The Rockford Files, January) refers to the loss of “higher-paying manufacturing positions with decent benefits” in Ohio and the Midwest generally, blaming the Bush administration and greedy multinational corporations.

I am no fan of the Bush administration.  However, Mr. Bush is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.  He did raise tariffs on steel, to “protect” the steel industry in Ohio, which is the sort of thing Mr. Richert seems to want for other manufacturing industries.  The inevitable result was loss of jobs in steel-using industries.  However, if President Bush hadn’t raised steel tariffs, he would have been condemned for steel-industry job losses, instead of for job losses elsewhere.

The loss of “good” manufacturing jobs in the Midwest has deep roots.  Those jobs were “too good.”  The pay and benefits were not economically justified.  Auto, steel, and rubber unions extorted those wages from employers, with the help of the pro-union federal government.  It is no surprise that autos, steel, and rubber are the industries in deepest trouble.  Workers making $10 per hour cannot afford to buy things made by workers getting $20 per hour unless the latter are twice...

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