Jobs—especially good paying jobs that can't be exported.
Well, that's almost all. I also want world peace and an end to hunger and homelessness. Then there's the climate. Oh, all right, I guess I want more than jobs, but it's beginning to look as though jobs—which certainly factor in ending hunger and homelessness—might be right up there with my other seemingly elusive goals.
Yes, the latest employment numbers are better than previous months', but let's see what happens after the holidays when seasonal help loses their jobs.
Earlier this week, I ran across an item on morganton.com, a Web site of The News Herald that serves Burke County, N.C. Vance Patterson of Blythewood, S.C.-based Patterson Fans wrote about why the U.S. needs good jobs that can't be exported.
Commenting on the hearing that North Carolina's 10th Congressional District is becoming a service economy that should forget about manufacturing, Patterson said, "That is wrong!"
Now, many people are very good at service jobs and we need them doing what they are best at and happy doing. But, many of us are not service people. I'd go nuts sitting on a phone all day, taking care of others' needs, driving a truck, researching, repairing, etc. Some of us need to be producing something. That's what we're best at; be it a craft or mass production, we are manufacturers.
Having manufacturing in our area does more than fulfill our joy in productivity, more than provide someone a job. I own a manufacturing plant that makes industrial fans. We make things out of metal and ship them across the country and around the world. Here's an insight: for every job I have in "the back" where they weld, powder coat and assemble our Patterson Fans, there are four jobs in "the front." These jobs include accounting, sales, marketing, payables, human resources and management. That's a 4:1 ratio, meaning every job in manufacturing creates four jobs in the rest of the company. So, yes, manufacturing is very important to additional job creation in our district.
Given we need manufacturing, how do we get more jobs? Ah, now we're getting into the problem-solving phase of the issue—something our professional politicians never seem to do.
When we have a problem in business, we look at three areas: people, product and process. To solve a problem you have to involve the right people—people who have knowledge, experience and passion. And who are these people in manufacturing? They're the ones who are makers, not service people. They're ones who have been in manufacturing, studied it, and know the difference between 'cost added' and 'value added.' They are the people who still have the American spirit of ingenuity and free enterprise and who aren't afraid to try and fail, then try again and again. They have the spirit that built this country and its industry from the ground up without government involvement. Those are the people we need involved in bringing jobs to our district.
The product we need is jobs. More to the point, in our culture, we need jobs that create wealth. Not rich wealth, but wealth with which we can support our families and help get ahead in life. Herein lies a huge difference between the U.S. and Asia. China's leaders are driven to create jobs for their people. Their No. 1 goal isn't world domination, but keeping their population busy. I know; I've been there and talked to them. They have to create 25 million new jobs every year or they have a real problem. So, they (and other countries) will subsidize their industries just to keep their people busy.
The United States has to create 1.52 million jobs a year to stay even. But we're not about creating just jobs; we're about jobs that create wealth and well-being for our families. That's why every generation has done considerably better than their prior generations—up until now.
Has there been a problem with our jobs that create wealth? You bet there has! For too long we've been losing these jobs and not replacing them.
We need to create jobs that can't be exported. More to the point, we need to create manufacturing jobs that can't be exported.
Patterson made some good points and clearly illustrated the need for good-paying manufacturing jobs. He covered the people and product areas in his three-area problem solving formula. But what about the process for creating jobs? Therein lies the difficulty. We've been talking about the loss of manufacturing jobs for a least a decade and still haven't come up with a process to stop that loss, let alone reverse it and add jobs. Does such a process exist? If it does, politicians seem to be unable to cut through the pork to find it. And maybe they are not meant to find it—maybe that's up to the entrepreneurs among us—but they certainly could enact laws to make U.S. manufacturing more competitive.
Patterson had little difficulty coming up with a process in 2005 when the people area created a problem for his company. Inc. magazine covered Patterson's solution to the problem and initiated a lot of discussion about whether his solution was correct.
Here's hoping you get what you want for Christmas. I'll settle for that laser-cut-in-the-U.S. dragonfly wind spinner I saw last night. I love its country of origin. Alas, its accessories are made in China.
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