When metal fabricators get together and talk about improving the image of manufacturing, the talk normally progresses to politicians. The fabricators lament that the elected officials just don't understand the value that their shops bring to the community and, as a result, don't support their industry as much as the farming community or even the law profession.
When politicians do show interest in manufacturing facilities, they are usually looking for media attention and votes. My co-worker Tim Heston had a good take on this in a recent blog.
I believe that politicians are a reflection of the electorate itself. After all, how do the same guys get re-elected every two or six years when everyone is supposed to be fed up with the performance of Congress? Politicians take manufacturing for granted because the their constituents do.That's particularly frightening considering some of those people have such a huge influence on the thoughts and actions of U.S. investors. Take a peek at this joker's blog. Could anyone have any more contempt for hard-working people who actually break a sweat at work?
Let's just take this snippet from Joe Weisenthal's blog posting "The Unspeakable Reason That Manufacturing Has to be Part of a US Economic Turnaround":
"In a country with 300 million people, with the staggering diversity that we have, we're ALWAYS going to have people who are ill-equipped for 'service' or 'knowledge' labor, which was supposed to replace the manufacturing that went overseas.
"There's always going to be a sizeable chunk of the population that lack either the intelligence or just the temperament to do something that isn't physical or manual."
Yep, the U.S. needs manufacturing, but only to employ the knuckleheads that can't do anything else ... with the exception of writing investment blogs.
The scary part is this viewpoint is likely shared by many others on Wall Street, in investment houses, and in corporate boardrooms. They just don't get the value that manufacturers create—in the form of end products or components or the jobs that help support American families.
That thinking is not shared by all, thankfully. Berkshire Hathaway has several old-fashioned manufacturing businesses in its corporate family, and I've come across more than a couple of metal fabricating operations that have been purchased by small investment groups looking to improve business performance in hopes of making a profit with the eventual sale of the business.
Unfortunately, the pro-manufacturing voices in the U.S. business community don't seem to garner as much attention as the unenlightened who see manufacturing either as a candidate for outsourcing or as a necessary evil to employ the "ill-equipped" in the domestic market. These are the talking heads on CNBC that live in a world where no one loses money in the stock market. These are the Ivy Leaguers who have all the answers without really having any type of real-world experiences. These are the misinformed unknowingly participating in a disinformation campaign that threatens the future of manufacturing in the U.S.
The Web is a vehicle that allows all voices to be heard. It's important for manufacturers to come forward and use it. Don't let others define what manufacturing is in the U.S. without challenging those definitions.