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2008 FIN – Perspective: "Sweet Smell of Machine Oil"

November 25
00:00 2012

2008 FIN – Perspective: “Sweet Smell of Machine Oil”

June 25, 2008 FIN – A generation of Americans grew up not realizing the importance of manufacturing and “the sweet smell of machine oil,” Rep. Don Manzullo lamented in a speech to the Mid-West Fastener Association meeting held in Rockford, IL. Students were sent to college to learn medicine or law, he noted. “There was an attitude that something was wrong if dad worked in manufacturing,” Manzullo recalled.
The demise of pride in manufacturing also reduced the numbers of students entering engineering school.
“We should look upon manufacturing as the backbone of the American economy,” Manzullo urged.
The backbone is not the much-talked-about banking industry. “The banking industry needs something to finance.” And the “service economy puts nothing out the door,” Manzullo pointed out.
It is wrong to “replace manufacturing with unemployment,” he added.
In contrast, other countries continue to prize manufacturing jobs. In those nations the emphasis is on how to improve manufacturing. That long-term view has paid off for Japan.
Part of the American problem is that public companies are under huge short-term pressure to generate maximum profits instead of investing in the future, Manzullo acknowledged. But the U.S. can still manufacture, declared the congressman first elected in 1992. Aerospace is the nation’s number one export and there is a critical shortage of engineers. Manzullo assisted in obtaining a research grant for Acument Global Technologies and to advance aerospace titanium.
Manzullo criticized his fellow Republican – George W. Bush – for the “horrible error of steel tariffs” during Bush’s first term as president. Instead today “free market forces left alone are yielding extraordinary things taking place in the steel industry,” Manzullo said. Foreign producers are taking advantage of the opportunities. Manzullo noted one of his legislative aides recently bought a Toyota Prius and noticed 62% of components are American parts. In order to be NAFTA compliant, the American parts are used in a car assembled in Japan.
The negative attitude toward manufacturing jobs has to change, Manzullo said. “As we look at the next generation, that crap’s got to stop.” ©2008/2012 Fastener Industry News
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