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The Federalist: Please Stop Glorifying Manufacturing Jobs


By Hunter Wallace

I found this little request over at The Federalist:

“During every election season, populists in both parties offer some variation of this cliché about American manufacturing: “We don’t make anything anymore.”

“We” still make plenty of things, actually. There are manufacturing jobs available (some of them high paying, specialized, and, no doubt, rewarding). And there may well be new, unexpected, and astonishing things to build in the not-so-distant future.

But still, it’s worth pointing out that manufacturing isn’t the same as manufacturing jobs. And it’s really time we stop venerating both….”

Lately, I’ve been reading Paul Theroux’s new book “Deep South.” In the book, Theroux travels all over the Deep South from South Carolina to Arkansas. He stops in one devastated small town after another – downtowns all boarded up or full of bars and thrift stores – the lucky ones graced with a Wal-Mart and a few strip malls. Invariably, he asks the locals what happened to their economy. Their response is always that some factory or business has closed down, laid off its employees, and moved production to Mexico, China, India, etc.

In one memorable encounter, Theroux talks to a Lumbee Indian who used to work in a textile mill in Lumberton, North Carolina. He is a Vietnam veteran wearing a “Combat Veteran – Proud To Serve” hat. It was given to him by the local VA office. The hat was made in Vietnam. Now he can’t find a job and all he has is that hat made by the people who tried to kill him in his youth who are expected to benefit the most from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

National Review, too, has a solution to the decline of manufacturing jobs: some towns just deserve to die for the sake of Washington’s trade policies, and the Luddites who live there need to get over it and move elsewhere in response to market forces.