The ranks of SAM supporters have swollen in the last year. For this, we can thank CNN's series Exporting America on the Lou Dobbs show and also many people like you who have told their friends and neighbors about SAM and the challenges facing the manufacturing sector. Also, as Cyndi Petrucci stated in a previous column, the February Manufacturing and Economic Recovery Conference (MERC) was very successful. So now the question becomes: What do we do next?
In the months between now and the general election, SAM will be working diligently to educate Washington and the voters about the importance of manufacturing to our standard of living and our military security. In May and June, we are working to strengthen our state and student chapters; in July and August, we will present a massive public awareness campaign using all media including radio and TV, sponsor debates and town hall meetings; and in September and October, we will carefully monitor our progress and rate the candidates as to their understanding of the issues. With your help, and with the assistance of all of our manufacturing ambassadors, in November the public officials we elect will be fully educated in the importance of manufacturing, especially manufacturing by small businesses.
In next month's column, we will discuss the platform of our group and its operating principles in more detail. The full platform is pending the approval of our board of directors. However, some of these items are likely to be included in our public awareness campaign:
- We will help to restore the respect for the labor of the people who design, manufacture, sell and distribute tangible products. Too much emphasis and importance is being placed on the service economy. Those who merely produce goods to give to others are being relegated to second-class citizens and being discarded as being from the old economy.
- The government's trading partners should not be allowed to manipulate their currency exchange rates in such a way that it deceives anyone of the true market value of their products. In addition, our trading partners must respect the patents and other intellectual property that flows from the creativity of our minds.
- We will create an understanding that there should be consequences when big box retailers ruin the environment, ravage the domestic manufacturing sector or exploit child labor by selecting suppliers that use poor and unsafe working conditions and pay substandard wages. Big box retailers are the superstores like Wal-mart, Sam's Club, Home Depot, Office Max, etc. Some of them deal fairly with their suppliers, but many of them pit U.S. manufacturers against China on labor and of course they can't make the cut.
As shown above, our position is not set in stone. New and sometimes subtle refinements to the information about our nearly three million manufacturing job losses come out daily. We will be refining our position using this new information all the way to the election. We think we have a pretty good start, but we will always listen to you. You can help us shape the message. Join us, or if you don't quite agree with us, join us anyway and let's work together to get to the truth.
In this age, always being prepared is very important both for those in manufacturing and those outside of it. Being ready to stand up for our industry sector requires us to work not only inside our factories, but also defend them to the outside world.
Each of us in manufacturing needs to become an ambassador for the industry. The old days of assuming that people know how the real economy works are over. That is why the government so easily helps give our good manufacturing jobs away. But the new economy has not really proven to be a wonderful place. This is the dot.com, dump the losers, cut your losses, no-patience-for-anything (including good R&D) economy. It is primarily run by the venture capitialists and is a whole lot meaner than the kinder and gentler way things were not that long ago. It is the economy run by the mean MBAs rather than those who think all should profit in the enterprise.
The time to reclaim our ability to export manufactured goods to the world is now. With your help, and the help of your co-workers, employees and friends, we'll do it. Four years from now will be too late. Two years from now will probably be too late. The time to act is now. As Dwight Eisenhower once said: "Be ready to act, every day."
To stay posted on developments, watch our Web site www.SAM-USA.org. It is going to be an amazing year. Thank you for your support!