For far too long our government has allowed our manufacturing jobs to be outsourced to foreign countries. Recently the Blue-Green Alliance, a partnership between labor and environmental groups, called for a comprehensive industrial policy and commitment to rebuild America with green technology and products.
The public should ask both government and corporate America this question: Should corporate America focus only on making profit any possible way using the cheapest possible avenues to produce products and services they sell in America or should corporate America ask itself how do we create good paying jobs for Americans?
Some claim government should not be in the business of creating jobs. They are wrong. According to a January 2009 report from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, “Public investment makes substantial contributions in terms of employment, economic growth, trade competitiveness, and essential services to the U.S. population.”
By implementing policies and through tax incentives or taxes the government helps generate or prevents jobs from being created in the United States.
Consider what a manufacturing job in the U.S. means to our economy. A manufacturing job requires an engineer to design the product and someone to build it. The manufacturing plant needs a maintenance worker. The manufacturer also relies on manufactured parts which creates another job, and a delivery job for the parts. In other words, manufacturing produces jobs of various skill levels for our workforce.
Tax incentives? Some argue against providing companies with any tax breaks, but in reality, taxpayers subsidize in social services when we experience higher unemployment rates and job scarcity. We also subsidize older technology in industry through hidden health care costs. The National Academies of Science recently reported the costs – $120 billion annually in environmentally induced illnesses and diseases.
Consequently, we should evaluate the cost-benefits in helping manufacturers to retool and industry to modernize their businesses by providing capital investment incentives for new equipment. We should also consider research and development incentives for American companies to produce new energy efficient products and bullet trains instead of military weapons and hardware.
If America is to have a future, now is the time to revitalize our manufacturing base with green jobs that benefit Americans. It starts immediately with a multi-industry strategy approach through partnership with private, public and labor segments and with policies that return our jobs to America. The bottom line is we can not have economic recovery without a manufacturing base that creates jobs for our people.
Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, California ‘s 50th District.