Welcome Scott Paul (President, Alliance for American Manufacturing), Harold Meyerson, (The American Prospect, Editor at Large) (HaroldMeyerson.com), (Twitter) and Carl Pope (co-founder Sierra Club) (HuffingtonPost) (Twitter), and Host Dave Johnson (Campaign for America’s Future) (Seeing The Forest) (Twitter)

ReMaking America

Many people think that discussions of manufacturing and trade are boring, dry and old-fashioned. But these are two of the things that drive an economy, and right now the stakes could not be higher. So keep reading.

A country “makes a living” in the larger world economy by making (or growing) things and selling them to other countries. Other countries see making things to sell in the world to be a national priority and so they set up policies to help their companies and industries be more competitive. We don’t. We used to, but now we just don’t. Instead, our currently-dominant “you are on your own” ideology forces our companies and industries to compete on their own against the resources of entire countries. That is one of the main reasons our economy is having such a hard time. A good measure of just how badly we are losing in this world trade competition is our enormous, humongous trade deficit. Every dollar of that trade deficit is a dollar drained from our economy, and from job-creation and from wages.

Right now it is difficult but not impossible to make things in America. The deck is stacked against you. Our trade policies, tax policies and currency policies all work against companies that want to make things here. When we try to set up policies to help our companies, there is great resistance. For example, when the “stimulus” was being debated there was an attempt to get strong “Buy America” provisions in the law, so our tax dollars were not just sent out of the country to stimulate the economies of our competitors. Lobbyists for multinational companies – like the Chamber of Commerce – objected, arguing that protecting American tax dollars and jobs and companies was “protectionist.” Fearful of being accused of protecting American jobs and companies, this requirement was softened.

In the years since the stimulus, of course, every effort to fix our economy and American competitiveness has been obstructed in the House (Hastert Rule) and Senate (filibusters), while pressure to enforce rules against currency manipulation gets nowhere with the administration.

The book ReMaking America (edited by Richard McCormack, with chapters by ten experts in various fields) offers a prescription for policies to help restore America’s manufacturing competitiveness. Three of these authors are with us today to discuss the problems manufacturers face, and their ideas about how our country can recapture competitiveness and nurture vital manufacturing ecosystems.

With us today are Scott Paul, Carl Pope and Harold Meyerson.

Scott is President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a non-profit, non-partisan alliance of some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. AAM put this book together, and Scott wrote the concluding chapter of ReMaking America, “The Blueprint for ReMaking America.” Scott writes about the attitudes many Americans have that manufacturing is dirty, low-skilled, depressing, and not needed and how this led to the policies we suffer today. He describes the barriers in the way of a manufacturing resurgence, including research, coordination, trade policies and their effects, credit problems, and educational deficiencies. All of these could be addressed with national (even regional) policies to coordinate solutions to these, with government working to get all the ducks (tax, trade, education, credit, etc.) lined up for manufacturing hubs and ecosystems (including infrastructure investment) so manufacturers can again grow and prosper here.

Carl Pope is former Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Carl’s chapter is titled, “Energy Manufacturing: The Linchpin For America’s Future”. In an earlier discussion of the book Carl summarized the energy component of the manufacturing puzzle as follows,

The fundamental challenge if we take climate change and sustainability seriously is that everything we have built in US in last 200 years we must modernize or replace in the next 30. We need to rebuild a new America. This is not just an economic imperative, it is an ecological imperitive. … We spend roughly 300 billion a year importing oil and exporting jobs. The only way to solve energy problem is to shift to clean energy and source the clean energy here. … If we transition to clean energy it will be easy but not automatic to source the supply chain in the US. … [Continuing to use] fossil fuels means we must be a third-world power in 50 years. The Chinese are not going to do that if we want to stay in the game we have to do that ourselves.

Harold Meyerson is the Executive Editor of the America Prospect and a columnist for the Washington Post. Harold’s chapter is titled, “A Manufacturing Renaissance for Whom? (Workforce Empowerment.)” In the same earlier discussion Harold summarized,

A large growing number of American workers in well-paid manufacturing jobs are now hired on to low-paying jobs, partly due to lower-wage and anti-union states.” A study by Boston Consulting Group noted wage stagnation in the US and wage increases in China. Compare to Mississippi, this is positive for US. “But going down to Mississippi wages does not signal a bright future for American economy.” “A leading example of higher pay and benefits is Germany. Their companies have preserved the highest level of manufacturing in home markets, have offshored less-skilled jobs. There is an increasing tendency for German companies to locate jobs here in the South for cheap labor. This is not realizing the promise of manufacturing.

So let’s get started. Welcome Scott, Carl and Harold.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

107 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Scott Paul, Harold Meyerson, Carl Pope, ReMaking America”

BevW October 27th, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Scott, Welcome back to the Lake.
Harold, Carl, Welcome to the Lake.
Dave, Welcome back to the Lake, thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Welcome Scott, Carl and Harold.

Scott you get the first question.

I’m going to start at the end. The final chapter is the Blueprint for ReMaking America. You write about the loss of factories and jobs, especially in the 2000s, and how people came to see manufacturing as “Poverty. Dirty. Depressing. Gone.” And the excuses, like “Outsourcing is a good thing.”

So you describe the problems, and the barriers businesses face that private firms can’t solve on their own.

And then you have a blueprint – a prescription for doing something about this. This largely involves things the government should be doing, and that all of us should be asking our members of Congress to help with.
I want everyone to read the book to learn about these, but maybe you can summarize a bit to kick things off?

(PS everyone can take a look at AAM’s Plan for a National Manufacturing Strategy at

dakine01 October 27th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Good afternoon Scott, Harold, and Carl and welcome to Firedoglake this afternoon. Dave, welcome back.

This question is for any of our guests. I have not had an opportunity to read the book so forgive me if this is addressed in there but where do the multinational companies see their customers coming from if there are no middle class jobs in the US?

I am among the long term underemployed and am barely scraping by with the help of the safety net as I try to hold on until I turn 62 yet I know I have it better than many others. With all the millions struggling, where do the customers come from?

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:01 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Looking forward to a fantastic salon. Thanks for having me back. And thanks for giving some attention to how we can grow the middle class in America.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Good to be with you FDL.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:03 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 2

Sure, Dave. First, we think our nation’s economic policies should recognize that we’ll never have a strong middle class, a balanced trade account, sound fiscal positions, or economic growth, without policies that favor production in America. So we need to look at nearly everything: trade, tax, training, infrastructure, innovation, energy, procurement, access to capital, etc. We have great advantages in the US, but we don’t have a manufacturing policy. We need one.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:03 pm


I think you have to distinguish. There are MLC’s that see US consumers as their base, but don’t themselves make stuff — think Walmart. Their business model is to take a larger market share even of a poorer America — so they’re OK. Then there are companies — say Ford — that operate globally, but make stuff, and see US consumers as their high end customers. They are much more likely to get the need for a manufacturing revival, but they are conflicted because they don’t want to offend other countries in which they operate like China.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:06 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 3

It’s a good question. Some multinationals want to locate production in the same market as their customers. Others prefer to go to the “lowest cost” country according to their calculation. The sad truth is that the U.S. market is vastly underserved. So much of what we consume is produced overseas. Though we have only 5% of the world’s population, we still buy about 20-25% of the world’s stuff in some cases. I think some corporate leaders now understand that folks have to be employed and earning a good living to buy products. Others either don’t care or don’t know.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:06 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 3

Another aspect of this — the good news — is that half of our trade deficit is not due to manufactured goods at all — it is just oil — so if we really invested in clean energy to replace oil in the US — with say electric vehicles, or more rail or transit — we could shift about $300 billion we currently pay in taxes to the Saudis and Russians back into the US economy and generate millions of new jobs.

CTuttle October 27th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Aloha, Carl, Dave, and Scott, welcome to the Lake…!

What are your thoughts on the impending TPP and the Atlantic version…?

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 2:09 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 3

I agree with Carl. The America consumer market has segmented into much more of a high-end/low-end market than it was 30 or 40 years ago. Back in those days, department stores were directed at the broad middle class. Now we have luxury stores and 99-cent stores, and most of the old department store chains have gone the way of the dodo.

dakine01 October 27th, 2013 at 2:10 pm
In response to Carl Pope @ 7

But where do the WalMart employees go to purchase things when they can’t afford to buy? (Given all the numbers of WalMart employees receiving various government assistance)

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:11 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 10

Aloha! The TPP could be bad news for American workers and manufacturers. First, look at the countries involved. Vietnam has no labor rights architecture and lots of industries owned by the government. Japan has a government committed to currency manipulation/devaluation and protection of its auto sector. Then you have to look at the rules–will they allow workers an opportunity to share in the benefits of increased trade, or not? The U.S. track record so far on free trade deals has not been terribly encouraging. And as for the Atlantic version, it’s clear the Euro business community wants access to the U.S. procurement market without giving up much in return. Last thing we need is more tax dollars headed overseas instead of creating jobs here at home.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:11 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 10

Well, the one good thing from the government shut-down was they slowed these down. They are being designed to exacerbate the loss of manufacturing and the hollowing out of the American middle class. For one thing, they will give their signatories — including say Japan — a first claim on US natural gas supplies, whose abundance is currently fuelling a reshoring of energy intensive industries. But if we sign TPP’s we, under current US law, give away the right to ensure that US households, power plants and factories get first claim on USnatural gas — giving away what is one of our greatest current competitive edges. The DOE studies of this show that exporting natural gas makes the oil and gas industry richer, and American households and manufacturers poorer – and increased income inequality. It’s a wierd policy for the Democrats to embrace, but so far they are.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Carl, a question for you:

You wrote extensively about how the fossil-fuel industry is fighting to maintain its dominance of our economy — as you wrote “locked into a high-priced, outmoded energy future.” (And you used plays on song lyrics like “I shot the Solyndra” and “What’s oil got to do with it.”)

Technology is changing things, but not fast enough. Where I live (Silicon Valley) I see four or five Teslas and a dozen Leafs almost every time I drive around. But it isn’t enough.

How can we get more people buying electric cars?

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:12 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 12

Walmart employees of course won’t be able to buy even the cheap Walmart products — but Walmart wants to steal customers from main street stories and other retailers that pay better like Costco — and they figure there are enough of them for Walmart to do well however badly AMerica does.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Scott: another question,

At the end of your blueprint chapter you write about some things that people reading the book can do themselves in their daily lives. Can you summarize for the readers here what you think people can do on their own?

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:14 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 15

Well, interestingly electric cars on a lifetime basis are now the cheapest thing to drive. But the problem is the upfront cost. But imagine that the Leaf or VOLT were sold like a cell phone — cheap up front, but with fuel fees over the next five years. The auto industry could then sell these cars for a lower sticker price than their gasoine equivalents — and they would fly off the shelves. Detroit and Tokyo need to get more creative — and in fact their leasing programs effectively do something quite similar, but they don’t get the subsidy back — and they are the way most people are buying electrics.

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 2:17 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 10

I’ll let Scott and Carl take on the proposed Trans-=Pacific agreement, which augurs to be another disaster for American workers. But here’s a point about the proposed Trans-Atlantic agreement, which would be our first trade accord with a bloc of nations with economies roughly as advanced as ours. I recently met with several European trade union leaders who fear that such an accord would lower their pay and benefits downward, just as Americans have feared, rightly, that our trade agreements with less-developed nations would lower our standards. Due to the effect of previous trade agreements, the decimation of our unions and the domestic flight of our manufacturers to Southern states, the wages and benefits of American workers are now well below those of their European counterparts: They come to just two-thirds of what workers make in Germany, for instance. So the Europeans fear that a Trans-Atlantic agreement would lower than standards — and their safety and other regulations, too — much as we feared NAFTA and our trade relations with China would. I point this out just to indicate how far the United States has fallen — from the nation of the world’s most successful workers to a nation that other nations, with better paid workers, now fear will undercut their incomes and standards. Jeesh.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Absolutely. First things folks can do is create their own “stimulus” plan for the USA by making their next purchase a Made in America product. WIth a little research, whether it’s apparel or an auto, it’s possible to do. Once you do, you’ll be hooked. Second is to take an action on our website…we have concrete “asks” for Congress and citizen contact can still make a difference, even in this day and age. Third is to think about buying Made in America bling or supplies for your workplace. Again, with a bit of research (or tools we have on our blog), that’s easy enough to do. Finally, with holiday shopping come up, try to give a Made in America gift to your loved ones. They’ll likely be surprised and delighted, unless they were looking for a 3D TV, none of which are currently made here.

Al Piccone October 27th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

What US structural disadvantages do you account for in your advocacy for our refresh of manufacturing?

Why is this now advantageous compared to the neoliberal new world order that’s been pursued for almost my entire life?

Would your solutions not have been preferable so long ago and what makes them practical now?

spocko October 27th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Lobbyists for multinational companies – like the Chamber of Commerce – objected, arguing that protecting American tax dollars and jobs and companies was “protectionist.”

Wow. I haven’t seen that word in ages. Do lobbyists really still use it?

I’m always trying to figure out what kind of leverage we can use to defeat the multi-national company lobbyist. Any suggestions?

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

One things folks should remember. A free trade agreement could be a “lift all boats” agreement — the early versions of the expansion of the European Union were exactly that, high bar exercises. It’s not intellectually difficult to design a trade agreement even with a much poorer country that raises standards for that nation while protecting them here. But it’s not what US trade negotiators strive for. Their clients at the bargaining table are the banks, the oil and gas companies agribusiness and big Pharma — and the last two decades of US trade agreements, since NAFTA, have done very well by those clients. So we have good negotiators — it’s the question of who they are negotiating for. And it hasn’t been the Walmart employee or the steelworker.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 2:20 pm


You write about how empowering the workforce has made a difference in countries like Germany. It leads to a stable and skilled workforce.

So in Tennessee it looks like VW is proposing a Works Council that lets labor have a voice in management. Republicans in the state are going nuts about this and an anti-union organization has files suit with the NLRB to stop it.

What are your thoughts on the Tennessee/VW situation?

CTuttle October 27th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

So why on earth are the Germans, Brits, French, etal. are pushing for it…?

tonywikrent October 27th, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I rather disliked Dave Johnson’s introduction because manufacturing is just not about a “country ‘make[ing] a living’ in the larger world economy.” When the UK was the world’s leading manufacturing economy, it was the world’s largest creditor. When the US was the world’s leading manufacturing economy, it was the world’s largest creditor. Now that China is the world’s leading manufacturing economy, China has become a creditor to the world. Why it so hard to draw conclusions about correlations in all this is beyond my comprehension. To me, it’s just plain common sense, which appears to be a rare commodity among neo-liberal economists. You manufacture things, you are creating wealth. Simple. Selling and trading credit default swaps does NOT create wealth.

Back in the 1800s, American System economists led by Henry Carey, rejected free trade and argued against the British free trade economists by noting that the ability to import is based on the ability to pay. The ability to pay is based on the earning power of your population. If you force your population to compete with countries being pauperized by British free trade, you can only maintain imports by increasing borrowing. The past half century has proven Carey was absolutely correct.

A question for anyone: why do we see so little public discussion about these actual policies that built the U.S.? Why do we see so little public discussion about what used to be called the American System of political economy?

NorskeFlamethrower October 27th, 2013 at 2:23 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 8

Thank you all for being here this is a real treat. Citizen Scott Paul: Brother Darkine01 asked a very important question and given the political reality of low taxes, low wages, megabanks and anti-union political mentality how in the name of God can enough capital be organized to grow manufacturing in any significant way? The last time we had conditions like this (1929-35) we had the federal government force the issue. All of the mechanisms to create demand and force manufacturers to build it here are gone…how do we do this without confiscatory taxation and iron clad real trade agreements that force environmental friendly manufacturing and support world-wide union solidarity?

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:24 pm
In response to Al Piccone @ 21

Al, great questions.

Disadvantages are trade/exchange rate policies that favor consumption/debt over production. An education that wants to churn out a surplus of folks with 4year college degrees at the expense of technical training. Capital market regulation that’s fine with short-termism at the expense of “patient” capital which is required in manufacturing. A failure to make long-term investments in infrastructure and innovation, which we know are key to competitiveness in the future.

The neoliberal model is crumbling, and even many economists who support neoliberalism now realize that it has widened inequality, failed to diversify economies, and eroded the middle class in most places where it’s been tried.

FInally, we SHOULD have had a manufacturing policy long ago. And we did have one…for the defense industry…for agriculture…for oil/gas. Where we’ve lacked it is in manufacturing. They are practical now because we’ve hit rock bottom. The tech bubble burst. The housing bubble burst. The financial bubble burst. Manufacturing is something we’ve always done well, but you need the right policies to make it grow.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:25 pm
In response to Al Piccone @ 21

The key thing to understand is that US wages are not the source of manufacturing weakness. Germany illustrates that a high wage, high labor standards and very unionized country can dominate manufacturing — not low end industries, but the really good, technically intense manufacturing field.

And US policy could have protected manufacturing all along — when NAFTA was being negotiated, the Sierra Club proposed a modest residual border fee to provide the necessary capital to clean up the environmental problems, provide community infrastructure along the border. Dick Gephardt propopsed that the Mexican government be required to ALLOW companies to pay higher wages in maquiladoras (Yes, wages were legally capped along the border.) The Clinton Administration shot both ideas down.

If they had been adopted NAFTA would have been much better for wages in both the US and Mexico, and for US manufacturing.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:25 pm
In response to spocko @ 22

Great question. We’ve made progress, even among Republicans, vs Club for Growth and Chamber of Commerce by showing them the polling on our issues. Even tea party voters agree with most of our manufacturing agenda. It’s just the money that doesn’t.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Well, any real strategy here is going to require multiple interventions — stronger anti-corruption laws, community organizing, better coalition building among them. But if we are looking for capital, my favorite is to remember that the federal borrowing window still provides the world’s cheapest capital — and only the US has access to it.

And if that’s not enough, cutting our dependence on oil with domestic fuelled transportation will restore 3 trillion dollars to the US economy over the next decade — eliminating the fiscal crisis that limits government investments.

We have the solutions.

But do we have the awareness and the will?

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:29 pm
In response to tonywikrent @ 26

Great points. And, I think we’re seeing more attention–at least rhetorically. The White House has been focusing on some manufacturing initiatives that don’t address some of the core concerns (trade, exchange rates) but nevertheless moves us in the right direction. And, as some commenters have pointed out already in this discussion, groups like the Chamber, Club for Growth, NAM are focused on the traditional free market/anti regulation model. We’ve offered a new model, and it takes a bit of getting used to for our lawmakers. But we feel like we are making progress. House Democrats have a good manufacturing agenda. Senate Democrats are unveiling a good agenda this coming week. We still have battles on trade and other matters, but it’s getting more attention and ink than it did 5 or 10 years ago.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 2:29 pm
In response to Carl Pope @ 18

Right, the upfront cost is higher whle the operating cost is lower.

It’s like with solar panels on your house. They cost a lot up front but after a few years of use they have paid for themselves, and you keep saving. So some companies are offering innovating financing based on this. They take on the upfront cost and install them, you pay them some portion of what you were paying the electric company, they make money and you have a lower monthly bill. And PS the electric bill goes up over time as rates rise, but your payment does not go up.

Electric cars cost more because of the battery cost, but you save on gas and maintenance (have you ever had to repair your refigerator motor?) But there aren’t any innovative financing plans based on this yet.

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 2:31 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 24

Works Councils, which are elected bodies of workers that meet with management on a host of issues but which don’t actually bargain over wages, hours and the like(they leave that to unions) began in Germany but have now become the norm, by law, throughout the European Union, and many European companies that are global now have global Works Councils as well, with delegates from all their plants. Volkswagen has 63 plants around the world, and 62 of them have their own works councils, and are represented in the company’s global council. The one exception, of course, is their US plant, which is in Chattanooga. The company clear would like that plant to have a works council, too — such councils are proven problem-spotters and solvers. And Volkswagen’s corporate board, like all German corporate boards, is divided 50-50 between management and worker representatives. Under the terms of the US National Labor Relations Act, a plant would have to have a recognized union to be able to participate in a Works Council, and the UAW has succeeded in getting more than half the workers at the Chattanooga plant to sign affiliation cards. Anti-union groups and Tennessee Republicans don’t want a union presence in the state, so they’re opposed to the council, and the UAW, on political grounds. The mystery here is why German and Japanese companies, which have exemplary relations with unions in their home countries, have uniformly suppressed American workers efforts to unionize in the plants in the American South. This gets us back to my earlier answer — Europeans increasingly look to America as a supplier of cheap labor, which they can exploit in a manner they never would contemplate doing at home. Volkswagen is the exception here (partly because since the end of World War II, the union has more power on the board than at other companies, which was the German government’s way of ensuring that the company, which was founded by Hitler, wouldn’t harbor any lingering Nazi tendencies). Let’s hope Volkswagen’s preference for worker representation spills over to the other companies with transplant factories in the US.

spocko October 27th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

A follow up question before you answered my first.
Say I’m a lobbyist for multi-national company. It’s not my job to worry about Americans. I worry about my company’s shareholders, and what my CEO wants. He says he wants to get the cheapest labor, the lowest taxes, and the fewest regulations he can for his company. So I’ll play one country (or state) off another.

It will become accepted wisdom that you “have to” make everything in Asia. I’m working with two companies with CEOs that have this idea fixed in their heads. It’s in the media, the right wing and many on the left that there is nothing they can do about “the global economy.” Individual companies feel they are powerless even if they might personally live in the US.
MBAs running the companies and making decisions will pull out their spreadsheets and explain why we must
1) Do the work away from pesky regulations and high labor costs
2)spend money on lobbying because it has a truly great ROI.

How the HELL do you push back on these MBAs advising CEOs who then direct actions of the company and our political “leaders”?

Have you every had a debate with some of these MBAs? I know that I would fold and my eyes glaze over with the authority of their speadsheets and the force of their accepted arguments.

Regular folks like me need to see people like you guys kicking the asses of MBA assumptions. And it would be nice to see someone kicking the asses of MBA advised politicians who supposedly care for the American people.

Edit: If you had these kind of debates where you humiliate these MBAs please link to them. If not please get the brilliant Dave Johnson to set one up.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Good questions. First, the economics and science of production now don’t automatically point to “offshoring.” Wages are slowly rising in China. Shipping costs are higher. Companies are losing their IP overseas. They have a hard time controlling inventories. Energy costs less in the US now than it does in most other industrialized countries. So that’s working for us rather than against us. But, unless we align our tax, trade, training, and other policies to focus on manufacturing, we’ll only get a fraction of the production we should get back or grow. That’s where AAM (and this book) come in. We’re trying to drive the policy debate.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 2:36 pm
In response to Carl Pope @ 23

Yes, yes, yes. Trade can be a great thing for everyone. Imagine a trade agreement that bans trade in goods made in sweatshops, or bans trade in goods made or packaged or shipped in ways that hurt the environment. That could be in a trade agreement. So the idea of trade agreements is not by itself a bad thing.

But trade agreements written largely or entirely by representatives of multinational corporations without representatives of other stakeholders at the table are certainly more likely to represent the interests of just the big corporations and likely at the expense of other stakeholders.

TPP doesn’t have human rights or enviromental or labor or consumer groups or democracy advocates etc. at the table, and that means it is likely that the interests of those stakeholders are not going to be in any agreement that results.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:36 pm
In response to spocko @ 35

I don’t want to seem naive, Spockp, but I actually the problem is that we haven’t connected the dots for anyone. I cannot tell you how many of my friends who WANT to see manufacturing come back think we lost manufacturing because of high wages; we haven’t done a good job of educating ourselves and our community about what used to be called “Political Economy”, which explained the intersection between the economic interest of different parts of a society. We have allowed the Neoliberals to pretend that, for example, our trade agreements are about “free trade” rather than “government picking winners and losers” which is what really happens — and we pick as winners the 1%.

Very people, for example, know that COSTO makes more money per square foot than Walmart — and profits/square foot are the normal measure of a retailer’s effectiveness. That’s right — per store, and per foot, COSTCO makes more money paying its workers better, treaters its suppliers fairly, and locating where it stores build local economies than WALMART — almost no one knows that.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:37 pm
In response to spocko @ 35

To answer your question, yes, I’ve had those debates with MBAs. And the science on this is changing a bit. Some companies are now considering “total costs of ownership” overseas, which can be dramatically different than just labor costs. Mitigating risks and proximity to customers are increasingly common priorities. Make no mistake about it, there will still be an awful lot of offshoring. but at least for the next decade or more, it will be a two-way street. Finally, there’s an emerging customer preference for Made in America products (when that can be easily identified). It’s not large enough yet to move the “macro” numbers, but it’s there. Finally, new trends like mass customization are hard to pull off when you are an ocean away from your customers.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 2:38 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 28

The “manufacturing policy” you mention for agriculture, historically, and to the present, resulted in human beings being forced to leave fertile land, productive land, necessary land, and move to urban areas to find the means of survival.

We have had NO coherent resource plans, ever, in this nation, we have, instead, embraced the uncritical and unthinking Extensive use of land-based resources when reason, sanity, the state of the environment, and humanity requires an Intensive approach to resource use, Scott.

What I see being offered here, amount to bromides, NOT comprehensive resource management planning. Such planning, to be rationally and reasonably effective, must be long-term, for a hundred years or more. Indeed, we have never engaged a serious resource inventory and further, regard the commonwealth, the land, the forests, and waters, and their resources, as the exclusive domain of the corporate elite. Fracking can serve as a current example, its “profits” are privatized and its costs socialized.

Frankly, what is to prevent another off-shoring, a boon to the few, and a cost, and a security risk, to the many? When or how do you address an economic system which has, clearly failed, which has permitted the few to BUY governance and thumb their noses at the rule of law? The financial sector which builds and creates NOTHING completely dominates this society … even after having engaged in unprecedented criminal fraud … for which it has been held to NO account whatsoever.


Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 2:38 pm
In response to tonywikrent @ 26

Among both elite and mass audiences, there’s very little knowledge about America’s economic history, and the role of some leaders, beginning with Alexander Hamilton, to use government resources to promote manufacturing. A recent history that does a great job of explaining that history is Michael Lind’s Land of Promise, published last year by HarperCollins. I might add that when mainstream economists began to fancy themselves no more than applied mathematicians, they excused themselves from having to know very much about economic history. And ignorance of a history of bubbles, as we’ve come to see, can lead to all kinds of untoward results.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:42 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 40

DW, mind you I didn’t suggest the agriculture policy was as GOOD one. Just that we had one. You are right that we haven’t yet talked resources, but I’m sure Carl would love to engage in that conversation as well.

I will submit that I think sustainability and life cycle cost measurements favor domestic production in nearly every case. Do corporations take those seriously? Not enough.

spocko October 27th, 2013 at 2:42 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 39

Great. Links to the videos?

Personally I like to see someone rub the MBAs faces in their spreadsheets that don’t consider total cost of ownership. That assume that shipping from China will always be cheaper.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:45 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 42

Well Scott and DW, to go back to the comment that was quoted from me earlier. By 2050 world GDP will have quintupled. Available natural resource through-put will be no greater than 50% of what it is today — the resources are not there. That means a ten fold increase in the efficiency with which we use resources — and that means much more intensive management of ecosystems as DW said. That in turn requires that we replace or redesign every car, road, hospital, home, power plant, sewage treatment facility, jail, office, airplane, transit system, irrigation canal, dam, factory, loading dock in America — all of it needs to be redone for a world of radical resource efficiency.

That’s the biggest job creator anyone has ever imagined — and it cannot be outsourced to Shanghai.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
In response to spocko @ 43

Spocko, not sure I have video but you should check out Harry Moser’s chapter in ReMaking America. He’s a former corporate executive who has created “total cost of ownership” software and spreadsheets. You can also find more at his “Reshoring Initiative.”

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 2:48 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 25

Well, just because their national elites are pushing for it doesn’t mean that the mass of people are pushing for it. After all, the US pushed for NAFTA and for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China — the US governments did, that is. It wasn’t like there was major support in the polls for these accords, just as today, the polling shows most Americans fear the effects of future trade agreements — which hasn’t kept the US from pushing for them. The governments of most nations are just over-responsive to their financial elites and under-responsive to public opinion. As Marx wrote, the ruling ideas of every age are ever the ideas of the ruling class — and trade seems to be one of those issues where Marx looks to have been right.

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

To reinforce Harold’s point, look at Canada. Twice during the negotiations over NAFTA Canada went to the polls, and twice it elected governments that promised NOT to sign the kinds of agreements that were being discussed — and twice those governments immediately upon election went to the bargaining table and adopted the positions of the Canadian financial elite.

spocko October 27th, 2013 at 2:54 pm
In response to Carl Pope @ 38

Well since I have had exposure to Dave Johnson I’m more educated than most.

I agree we have a big education problem. Even how we talk about the economy needs to be revised. As Anat Shenker Osorio says in her book, “Don’t Buy it, the Trouble about talking nonsense about the economy” The economy isn’t a force of nature or a diety. There are people who are making decisions. Decisions that can change which can change the direction of the economy.

Even the use of the phrase “free trade” needs to be defined before it is used (or not used)

I would love to see some of you folks aggressively taking on some of the leading “experts” MBAs and Lobbyists on this issue.

I would like to see the MBAs acknowledged that their American Based multi-national screws over Americans on purpose.

I would like to see you guys up against some politicians, with their favorite lobbyists sitting next to them, explain to people where American and American jobs are ranked when it comes to their priorities. They would say they are number one, but you would show us that they are not, that their priorities are not to the people or America, but to an offshoring, job killing company that funds them.
I want it on video. I want it to be hard hitting and I want it to be the kind of video that John Stewart and Steven Colbert show on their show.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 2:54 pm
In response to Carl Pope @ 44

It has been suggested, Carl, by several astute observers of economics, that the Fed, for example, should be charged with creating a hundred-year plan of rebuilding the infrastructure. As well, resources must be understood as being regional, and economies must be tied to this regional reality.

Also “wealth” must come to be fully understood as being “created” ONLY when resources, of whatever sort, are made useful to human beings IN civil society.

And, the value of ANY economic system MUST be understood as being reflected in its capacity to supply those resources necessary to life to ALL members of the society making use of that system.

The “dismal science” has failed quite utterly, I consider it fair and honest to say, in addressing ALL of these critical issues.


Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
In response to Carl Pope @ 47

I’d be remiss to point out that Congress had only approved most of those controversial agreements under duress. Threats to cut off campaign cash, promises of new bridges to be built, etc. NAFTA, CAFTA, fast track (which enables trade deals), and China all passed that way. On the substance, Congress is deeply divided.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Right. People might be interested to know that there was something called “The American System” and “The American Way” and it wasn’t about Superman.


It was a policy of promoting US manufacturing with high tariffs on imports, and developing world-class infrastructure to help companies move their goods. It helped build the country’s early prosperity.

When other countries have a situation that lets them make things for less, that can undermine our country’s better wages or environmental protections or ability to deveop a manufacturing ecosystem. Often this comes from non-democracies that shut down their people, resulting in low wages, etc. Sometimes it is the result of smart national policies. A tariff in those situations can at least help our companies be competitive here. And the revenue can be used to help our companies compete over there.

Either way a good trade agreement can lift all boats as Carl said earlier by addressing these issues. We remove a tariff if you start protecting the environemnt and letting our goods in, etc. But a bad trade agreement can undermine our democracy and the prosperity it brings us, making the good wages and environmental protections that the public wants (democracy) into a competitive disadvantage in the world.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 2:59 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 51

Dave, you reminded me of something Clyde Prestowitz, a supporter of domestic manufacturing and critic of trade policy, has often said. It’s as though Adam Smith wasn’t translated out of English, as the English-speaking nations have driven the neoliberal model. (And Adam Smith himself wasn’t a purist on this stuff…)

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 2:59 pm
In response to spocko @ 48

Also replying to DW since your comments are both on the same lines:

If Williams Jennings Bryan was giving his famous speech today, he would say “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of efficient markets and free trade.”

But we are, and we need a complete rethink of how we talk about what we know about the economy — and then we need to realize what we know and what we don’t. An obvious example — the whole idea of efficient competitive markets assumes that both sides of a transaction have the same information. The whole banking sector is set up to pay people handsomely to make sure that isn’t true. So it’s not just that we have imperfect markets — we have markets which have been sabotaged, in their own terms, by the very market fundamantalists who preach their virtues to us. This is predatory economics, not free markets.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Harold, when such secrecy as surrounds TPP is allowed, is not challenged, even when corporate interests have total access to the provisions of this “agreement”, having in fact dictated what these provisions are to be, the cowardly unwillingness of Congress to refuse to go along, seems more than a little bit selfishly self-serving.

Congress is held in very low popular repute for honest and genuine reason.

The people are well-advised to be suspicious, to be concerned, to NOT trust “leadership” or rely on any storied “checks and balances”.


spocko October 27th, 2013 at 3:02 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 45

I will check it out. Now since I’m in a feisty mode. What would it cost you guys to create a video like this? What if there was a think tank that you could fund to do things like this? You know that the Heritage Foundation has one.

We know that Fox News and Heritage Foundation are not on the side of the American People. They are on the side of the 1%, because they are the ones who fund them.

I’m a writer, activist, media trainer and PR guy. I know that there need to be multiple formats to educate people. If you think that we need to better educate and connect the dots, then I’d look into how people learn. Personally I’m a reader, but others like videos. Some like debates and most like comedy.

Please consider how to use interesting educational tools and also leverage tools. For example, I want to figure out some leverage tools for blocking TPP. It’s bad for Americans, yet the billionaire companies are keeping it hush hush because they know that if the details come out they will be scrambling. I’ve been telling people about the food safety issues on TPP and they are terrible. Everyone agrees, but it will be too late by the time it is officially revealed. We need someone digging up dirt and leaking info on the disaster that is TPP.

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:03 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 51

And that’s why a Trans-Atlantic Trade accord could really be a model for lifting all boats — but for the fact that the discussions have been dominated, like all trade discussions of the past quarter-century, by governments and financial interests that have no interest in doing that. The European Union, for all its flaws, has devised rules and laws that have helped and empowered workers and consumers all across the continent. In theory, a Trans-Atlantic Trade agreement could build on that principle and provide stronger guarantees for workers and consumers, not to mention the environment, on both sides of the Atlantic. The AFLCIO has been coordinating a push for that with its European counterparts. But they’re swimming upstream.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 3:06 pm

OK Scott, Carl and Harold, let me bring in something very current.

Most people don’t know that our government actually gives tax breaks for the costs of moving jobs and factories out of the country. And because of something called “deferral” the government even lets companies off the hook for taxes on profits as long as they don’t bring the profits back to the country. So there’s somewhere over $1.5 trillion that companies are currently holding out of the coutnry. Apple is a notorious example of this. This represents a LOT of potential revenue from taxes due.

So right now lobbyists are offering the idea of a “holiday” on those taxes. They say give us a huge break and we’ll bring the money back. You can use this one-time shot of tax revenue to do infrastrufture work which creates jobs. But instead of the 35% that would be due, let’s make it a Holiday rate of 5% or so as an “incentive” to bring the money back.

Your thoughts on this “repatriation tax holiday” proposal?

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:06 pm
In response to Carl Pope @ 53

Well said, Carl, and I agree completely.

Yet, given the fact that we are not able to get into office a political class which hears those concerns nor even recognizes them as legitimate, how do you envision that we might affect the change all of us agree is critically necessary … even to the survival of the human species and the capacity of Earth to continue to support human existence?


Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:06 pm
In response to spocko @ 55

Spocko, I’m (sometimes) on the air on CNN or CNBC debating those guys. Happy to send you some clips. As for popular education tools, we try to do a lot. We’ve done 80 town halls/events across America (red, blue, purple) since 2007. We’ve done the polling that the pols love to digest. We’re engaging increasingly with the mgmt/biz community on the “reshoring” opportunity. But we can always do more.

spocko October 27th, 2013 at 3:08 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 54

Boy DW, it appears we are of the same mind today! Did you mind meld with me at a party recently?

Al Piccone October 27th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Gindin: “rather than capitalist states going after each other, what neoliberalism did was, it resolved the crisis through pushing the conflict, the restructuring at home […] So basically [… neoliberalism …] was capitalism in the absense of working class opposition.”

Now that the working class has been so thoroughly defrauded, why should they advocate for what is likely another fraud?

Because they have no alternative?

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Well, as currently framed, it’s a joke. We did this once before No new jobs got created.

But we need to solve the problem. Corporate income taxes should be set up — globally — so that every company pays a reasonable but consistent tax on its profits — say 25%, which is more than the US actually currently gets. Then if you want to claim that you make all of your money on the Island of Bermuda, which no corporate taxes, fine — but then you have to pay 25% based on your sales, so that if half of your sales are in the US, you’d pay 12.5% to the US. This would take global cooperation, which may seem impossible, but only a few years ago agreements on money laundering and banking secrecy seemed similarly beyond reach, and now they are beginning to make a real difference. So we need a consistent global tax system for corporations, so they don’t shift their operations for tax reasons, but for business ones.

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:10 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 54

I don’t think the House, in particular, will be a pushover if and when it comes to passing the Trans-Pacific agreement. Democrats in the House have been voting against trade accords in steadily rising numbers ever since NAFTA. These accords usually need Republican majorities to pass, but for reasons that have nothing to do with the issue and everything to do with their hatred of Obama, I expect large numbers of Republicans to vote against any trade agreement that Obama sends up to the Hill. So I hesitate to predict the fate of a Trans-Pacific agreement when it gets to Congress. (Historically, the Senate is usually more supportive of such agreements than the House, partly because senators in either party tend to be closer to Wall Street than their House counterparts, while House members of either party tend to be closer to Main Street than their Senate counterparts.)

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:11 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 57

It’s a terrible idea as proposed. And we did this about 10 years ago. It didn’t create a single job and generated a modest amount of revenue. Some folks think it’s an OK idea to offer some discount and ensure the $ are invested in people, capital upgrades, energy efficiency, etc. but there is no consensus on this.

I should say that I’m also worried about the push to lower corporate tax rates by “broadening the base.” Most of these tax expenditures are tools for manufacturers (domestically) to offset their cost of capital: deductibility on loan interest, depreciation, a direct credit for manufacturing in America. The benefits of a corporate tax cut would go to Wall Street and retail and would make it MORE likely for work to be offshored as taxes would rise for domestic manufacturing activity.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Again, so long as the trade agreement (not a treaty, deliberately, btw) is kept secret and is the result of lobbying, it cannot and will not “lift all boats”. That is could, Harold, that it SHOULD, is the exact measure of the failure and even lack of legitimacy of our current “bought” political $y$tem.

The educational outreach necessary for broad and deep understanding must, somehow, be made possible … one person at a time if necessary … but, in the meantime (and it will be a mean time indeed) it will, very ;likely, be shoved down everyone’s throat.

The media is part of the political class, and that class, for forty and m,ore years has NOT served the interests of the people OR the environment.


Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Really good points, Harold. I’d just add that at least so far a few major businesses (Ford, GM, Chrysler) are opposed to Japan in the TPP because of its closed auto market and currency policies. That also bumps up the opposition on the R side.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to spocko @ 60

We is, most often, spocko, of much the same mind.


Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Previously I hosted an FDL book salon with Lori Wallach for her book The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority. That discussion was focused on TPP and ways to engage with Congress.

In particular we want to fight “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority, which overrides Congress’ constitutional authority. Fast Track sets up a system where Congress is under great pressure to pass whatever is presented to them, without being able to modify it, and in a big rush. I might add that the multinationals that want TPP would be engaged in a very well-funded PR campaign at the time of any vote…

So if readers want to get involved take a look at that previous book salon and the comments. There are great links there to organizations and information.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I sincerely hope that you are correct, Harold, yet once again, as in keeping Social Security and Medicare safe, it is not conscientious concern or even conscience, it is perfidy which we must rely upon to “save” us.

A tenuous proposition, and VERY shaky, at best.


DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:20 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 68

Thank you, Dave, that was a Salon which I could not attend, so very much appreciate those links.


Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Scott. I know I don’t have to say more than one word to get a response from you: Currency.

America has a “strong dollar” policy. This gives America’s financial sector more power in the world. But to American manufacturers it means the things they make her cost more relative to things made in countries with a “weak” currency.

Other countries, notably China, get away with manipulating their currencies to make them weaker than they should be in world markets.

What can readers do, who can they contact, etc., to get something done about this problem?

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 3:22 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 68

I should add, don’t go read that salon until this one is over, keep asking your great questions.

Al Piccone October 27th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Gindin, again: “in spite of this [2007-] crisis, where industry, you would think, would have all kinds of reasons to break with finance capital, there’s been no split in the capitalist class. […] as irrational as finance seems socially, it’s rational for capital.”

Good luck.

spocko October 27th, 2013 at 3:24 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 59

Send me some links! Post ‘em here. I know how big a media machine the right has, but we have some media here on the left and I follow them. Consider “preaching the the choir” with those videos. Support a video site like Crooks and Liars, not just with PR but ads as well. Sites like In Deep Radio’s new Video channel MixTV

If you do some town halls have you designed any of them to be “controversial?” Have you designed some fun controversial events that will make us want to share them? I’m not a social media guru but you can see what people share, and funny, controversial, dramatic and celebrity are some of the educational ways that work today.

As I said, I’m a reader, but I consumer information via comedy and video too. We need to hit the MBAs, but millions watching an MBA pro-offshoring CEO get busted selling out American on The Daily Show? That would be some good TV and good education. Those things don’t just happen, They are planned by people like me and folks like Dave. The Right gets that and funds that kind of work. It won’t fund itself. Okay. I’m done with my chastising, you guys are clearly doing the work, it’s just frustrating to me that I don’t see more of it.

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:25 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 64

Scott is totally right, as usual, about this. I’d only add that this issue of supposedly high corporate taxes contributing to a dearth of domestic investment obscures a larger reason for that dearth only now coming into view: the fact that the emphasis on shareholder value, on boosting the stock price (to which CEO salaries are linked) and buying back shares and paying executives so much, actually is a major cause of the declining investment of American corporations. That the thesis of Andrew Smithers’ new book, and of a study by some academics that I recently wrote about in the Washington Post, which showed that publicly traded firms devote 3.7 percent of their assets to investment, while comparable privately held firms devote 6.8 percent. Here’s a link to my column:


DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:25 pm
In response to Al Piccone @ 73


Well-played, Al.


Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:29 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 71

Dave, excellent point, and it’s an issue that probably seems as unapproachable and arcane as the Fed’s monetary policy. But it’s really key for our economy and the ability of our manufacturing sector to support and create middle class jobs. First, the math. If a country’s currency is strong, that helps lower the cost of imports but raise the cost of its exports. As you mention, our Fed/Treasury have (mostly) followed a “strong” dollar policy for the past 20 years. It’s no surprise then that our trade deficit has gone up during this period.

BUT…to make matters even worse, some governments artificially devalue their currency to gain an even greater trade advantage. that’s precisely what China has done for the past 15 years. It’s what Japan does from time to time. And other smaller Asian economies tend to do this, as well. It’s all a part of “export led growth.”

In theory, this is “against the rules.” But the IMF, WTO, Treasury, USTR all point the finger to someone else to deal with it. That means nothing gets done. The Treasury Department could designate China (or another country) as a currency manipulator, but it hasn’t and won’t. So that leaves Congress. There is bipartisan legislation (follow americanmanufacturing.org to our “take action” page) that would give greater tools for manufacturers and unions to do something about it through our trade laws. Versions of this bill have passed the House or Senate in 2005, 2010 and 2011. But nothing has cleared Congress. It’s worth noting that the Senate bill in 2011 (Schumer/Sherrod Brown/Lindsay Graham) cleared a cloture vote with Republican support despite being opposed by the Club for Growth and Mitch McConnell. I’m hopefully we can get a Senate and House vote before the election next November.

This bill would help lower the trade deficit, budget deficit, and create jobs. Really!

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:29 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 68

Well, congressional Democrats declined to renew fast-track authority when it expired during the presidency of George W. Bush. I suspect there will be a lot of Republicans who won’t be wild about renewing fast-track authority — which effectively makes Congress subservient to the president on trade policy — under the presidency of Barack Obama. If Obama sends a proposal to renew fast-track to the Hill, he’ll have significant left-right push-back.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 3:32 pm


It always stuck me as odd that an entire political party would be promoting a pipeline that let a Canadian company bring tar-sands oil all the way across our country (using eminent domain to take farmers’ land) to a southern port so they could sell oil to China. It seemed obvious that a lot of money was changing hands.

So it turns out that the Koch brothers’ company has a tremendous stake in all of this, possibly making them as much as $100 billion!

What are your thoughts on the Keystone XL pipeline, the Kochs, the effect of getting that stuff out of the ground and burning it, and the fight ahead?

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:35 pm
In response to spocko @ 74

You are, of longstanding, a most superb information distribution strategist, spocko, and it is a delight to follow along with your insights, which I have appreciated for many moons.


spocko October 27th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Harold, Dave referenced the Lori Salon. It was excellent. I spoke to Lori about it latter with some thoughts on how to get TPP’s horrible agreements out to the people. I focused on food safety. She doesn’t have the budget to go around and exposing that part of the TPP problem. But since there are multiple components to TPP different industries can push different segments. Right now my friends at Boing Boing and the EFF are pushing the horrible media and copyright aspects of TPP where a modified SOPA is trying to implemented via TPP. We need some horror stories of manufacturing in the world of TPP to tell people, just like Boing Boing is telling horror stories about their area of expertise.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Scott, Carl and Harold,

Before this wraps up, perhaps you would like to post some links to good articles, fact sheets, videos, etc. that you recommend on this topic?

Al Piccone October 27th, 2013 at 3:38 pm

ibid: “the global responsibilities of the American state end up trumping [it's domestic ones].”

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:39 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 79

Superb question, Dave. Although it seems to me that the entire political class, which includes the media, pretty much supports the pipeline, just as, in Pennsylvania, both Corbett, the current governor, a Republican, and Rendell, the former governor, a Democrat, are equally in favor of fracking …or, more precisely, the money … it is always … the money.


Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 3:41 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 79

Well, it is really bizarre that this has been so consistently misunderstood. For years the advocates said “we want to bring more Canadian tar sands crude to the US.” Actually, the US already had enough tar sands crude to keep oil prices in the Midwest up to $20/barrel below OPEC prices. The tar sands producers want the US to have less of their oil, so they can raise the price — but they need our refineries and our ports on the Gulf Coast to get their oil overseas — and of course they don’t want to ship that oil to the US East coast which could use it, because that would mean using US ships and US crews, and paying decent wages — the Jones Act which requires this doesn’t apply to shipments to other countries (even Canada, where much US light crude oil is going while we continue to import from the Saudis — go figure.).

So Keystone is a part of a consistent oil industry strategy to ensure that North American oil and gas prices are set by OPEC, not the market. If you want to understand more about this, check out a couple of pieces I did for Bloomberg View recently.


But this project has clearly had the skids greased by the Koch Brothers, who stand to make billions, and the US GUlf Coast refiners, many owned by the Saudis and the Venezuelans. It’s a stinker.

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:41 pm
In response to spocko @ 81

Spocko, food safety is a great issue to bring up in discussing trade accords or just while making the case for regulation generally. I’ve done this in past columns on earlier deals, and will do so on TPP as well. You may recall that Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle as an expose of the conditions under which slaughterhouse workers labored, and it resulted in legislation that didn’t really do anything for the workers but that set standards for food for the first time.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:42 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 82

Sure, Dave..

I’d be remiss if I didn’t direct folks to http://americanmanufacturing.org/remake-america/ for information on the book, for which Carl and Harold contributed outstanding chapters. I promise you won’t get another 360 degree view of the policy issues like this.

And for ongoing coverage, I hope folks will check in with our blog on americanmanufacturing.org regularly. We have policy, pop culture, and the latest video on all of this.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:44 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 82

And Dave, I hope folks will also read the work YOU regularly contribute on your various platforms. They are always insightful and focused on action.

Dave Johnson October 27th, 2013 at 3:45 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 87

Readers can also sign up to receive a daily morning summary and an afternoon digest, at the top right here: http://www.americanmanufacturing.org/blog.

BevW October 27th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

As we come to the last minutes of this great Book Salon discussion. Any last thoughts?

Scott, Harold, Carl, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book, and the need to support American Manufacturing.

Dave, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

ReMaking America (book)

Scott’s website (AmericanManufacturing.org)

Harold’s website (HaroldMeyerson.com) and Twitter

Carl’s website and Twitter

Dave’s website (Seeing The Forest) and Twitter

Thanks all, Have a great week. If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

And please remember when talking about manufacturing: “It’s not wages, stupid.” We lost manufacturing to bad public policy, not good American wages. And we didn’t even lose it. Government threw it under the bus.

But for one recent high tech success story, look at this example from Delaware.


Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Just to elaborate on this a little more – boosting domestic investment in manufacturing or infrastructure or anything will require changing the incentives for corporate executives, delinking their pay from short-term profits and share value, and greatly boosting the government’s investment of public funds in infrastructure, science, research and, just as in the 30s, public employment projects. We haven’t really added any jobs since the recession officially ended – it’s just the decline in the size of the workforce that’s caused the unemployment rate to drop. Manufacturing and the entire economy suffer from an investment dearth. Once upon a time, we had governments that knew how to deal with this. The Obama stimulus was a move in the right direction, but it was way too small and its employment programs bore no resemblance to the comparable government programs of earlier times. Not saying this is politically easy — the deficit hawks need to be put back in the box whence they came — but I see no way out of our current economic woes absent a massive increase in public investment.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:49 pm
In response to Carl Pope @ 91

Amen. It’s NOT the wages. It’s the policy. And there is something we can do about it.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Superb, thought-provoking Book Salon.

Thank you, Scott, Harold, Carl, and Dave.

Thank you, Bev, as always …

And, thank you, to those who comment, making this community what it is … and encourage what it needs to become … even more effective as a learning tool with diverse understandings and common accord.


Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Thanks to you, Dave, and to all the participants for great questions, and to Scott and Paul for some great answers. Scott has linked pretty much everything I’d link to. I’d just suggest that people devote some time to learning about the factors that have enabled nations like Germany to retain robust manufacturing sectors — including their successful opposition to developing a high-flying financial sector and their decision to give their workers both more training and more power than workers have here.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Spot on!!!

Thank you, once again, Harold, for stating what must be said, clearly, succinctly, and impeccably well.


Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Good grief. I met to say, thanks to Scott and Carl, not Scott and Paul for some great answers. It’s Scott’s fault for having two first names.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Absolutely. And you can do that by absorbing Harold’s chapter in our book, for a start. Yes, a nation with unions, national health care, $48/hour wages can still have 23% of its economy in manufacturing! If Germany can do it, so can we.

spocko October 27th, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Agreed, I’m recovering from Tainted American Chicken. Salmonella. The USDA just announced that China can now process and ship chicken to the US. But only chicken that has been raised and slaughtered in the US. But they don’t have to tell people it was cooked and processed in the US!

This is prelude to China raising, slaughtering and shipping Chinese Chicken to the US. Given China’s food safety record you would think that this would be a huge red flag. But I found out that the whole deal was set up because China used the mad cow scare to stop importing US Beef. The Beef industry pushed this. China was happy to take the deal because their industrial policy was thinking big picture, but Big Cow only cared about their 100 million a year in shipments, not the potential problems with food from China.

I often wonder how many dead kids it would take to change the rules. We know from experience that at least 4 (1992 e. Coli Jack in the Box deaths) but in the future how much control will we have with the TPP when arbitration goes to a tribunal of unelected UN lawyers? When US safety rules are ignored for internationals “safety standards” Why should China’s food safety standard become ours? Because of TPP. It’s a horrible story and it is sad that lost of people will have to die first before we revise the rules.

Scott Paul October 27th, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I still blame my parents for that. Is that OK?

Carl Pope October 27th, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Well, people sometimes think I am the pontiff, so all names have their challenges. Thanks to Bev, Scott, Dave, Harold and the community of FDL. I had a very good time and learned a lot even though I had already read the book!

CTuttle October 27th, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Mahalo, Carl, Dave, Harold, and Scott for an excellent Book Salon…!

Harold Meyerson October 27th, 2013 at 3:58 pm
In response to Scott N. Paul @ 100

It’s always OK to blame one’s parents. That’s what parents are for.

DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 4:06 pm
In response to spocko @ 99

That message needs to be broadcast far and wide, spocko.

It is powerful, strikes straight to the point, and brings the reality … home.


DWBartoo October 27th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Harold, my youngest daughter is reading this comment over my shoulder …

Thanks, I guess.


karenjj2 October 27th, 2013 at 4:18 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 105

hey, DW: my mom always said if there was something i didn’t think i should do or want to do at urging of friends — blame her!

great excuse!

alan1tx October 27th, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I’m guessing America will never be the way people remember it.

My French owned company employs thousands of US employees.

I wouldn’t want “Us” to hurt “Them”.

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