Revitalized manufacturing base needed

By Tracy Emblem

Democratic candidate for the 50th Congressional District

Recently the Blue-Green Alliance, a partnership between labor and environmental groups, called for a comprehensive industrial policy and commitment to rebuild America with green technology.

The public should ask both government and corporate America this question: Should corporate America focus only on making profit any possible way using the cheapest possible avenues to produce products and services they sell in America or should corporate America ask itself how do we create good paying jobs for Americans?

Some claim government should not be in the business of creating jobs. They are wrong. According to a January 2009 report from the Political Economy Research Institute, “Public investment makes substantial contributions in terms of employment, economic growth, trade competitiveness, and essential services to the U.S. population.”

Consider what a manufacturing job in the U.S. means to our economy. A manufacturing job requires an engineer to design the product and someone to build it. The manufacturing plant needs a maintenance worker. The manufacturer also relies on manufactured parts, which creates another job, and a delivery job for the parts. In other words, manufacturing produces jobs of various skill levels for our work force.

Tax incentives? Some argue against providing companies with any tax breaks, but in reality taxpayers subsidize in social services when we experience higher unemployment rates and job scarcity. We also subsidize older technology in industry through hidden health care costs. The National Academies of Science recently reported the costs — $120 billion annually in environmentally induced illnesses and diseases.

Consequently, we need to evaluate the cost-benefits in helping manufacturers to retool and industry to modernize their businesses by providing capital investment incentives for new equipment. We should also consider research and development incentives for American companies to build new energy efficient products and bullet trains instead of military weapons and hardware.

If America is to have a future, now is the time to revitalize our manufacturing base with green jobs that benefit Americans. It starts immediately with a multi-industry strategy approach through partnership with private, public and labor segments and with policies that return our jobs to America.

Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, California’s 50th District.