Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week vowed to become saleswoman in chief for Michigan as a business center, and offered a three-step plan to elevate national discourse on maintaining the United States’ manufacturing base.
Her plan would:
- Gather Michigan’s manufacturing industry leaders to explore issues and solutions in a state-level meeting in the next several months.
- Encourage governors of other top manufacturing states to convene similar meetings.
- Encourage those same governors to gather in Washington, D.C., to discuss state and federal actions needed to sustain U.S. manufacturing.
Late last year, West Michigan manufacturers kicked off a drive to create a manufacturing component in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Incredibly, they succeeded. It was step one of a tremendous outpouring of energy and determination needed to reverse the ebb of U.S. manufacturing.
Cynics and Republicans might be tempted to say that the governor’s announcement is evidence that she’s merely racing to get out front of a crowd that’s already moving toward a universally approved goal.
Well, so what? Even if the governor doesn’t actually care about manufacturing but just wants to seize a handy political opportunity, all we can say is: Seize away. Lead for all you’re worth, because it’s almost too late to repair the dike. Here’s your chance to become a genuine national hero.
The drain of American manufacturing to the Pacific Rim probably is as great as any danger this country faced during World War II and its 55-year aftermath.
Regardless of whether you’re discussing the subject with the National Association of Manufacturers or the Manufacturers Council of The Right Place Inc., the same challenges keep coming to light — and some of them offer ample scope for the governor’s talents and office:
- The Chinese Challenge — an ancient nation with a monumental work ethic is coming back into its own after centuries of defeat and oppression. And thanks to information technology and the global economy, China is using the United States as a trampoline to make its comeback.
- The American Challenge — thanks to an oppressive, incomprehensible system of taxation, goofy trade policies and a virtually immobile federal bureaucracy, Washington, D.C., is blindly spurring the emigration of U.S. manufacturing to other countries.
- The Union Challenge — the conviction of the UAW and public service unions that they deserve insulation from health care costs and global competition.
- The Human Capital Challenge — a grotesquely wasteful, often pathetic system of public education is dulling huge numbers of American children, denying them personal opportunity and denying the country the benefits of their native talent. It’s no accident that so many American math and computer whizzes come from Calcutta and New Delhi.
Herein lie challenges worthy of the governor’s mettle. It’s 20 years since the promulgation of a shocking report with an introduction that said: “Our once unchallenged pre-eminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world.”
The report, entitled “A Nation At Risk,” concerned our schools. Events have proved it right. Lead on, governor.