The issue is not how productive US manufacturing has become; the issue is how it became productive, whether lowering labor inputs by reducing labor employment, or by installation of labor-saving machinery, or by other means. The issue is not how large American manufacturing is, whether measured by value-added, or sales, or units produced, compared to the GDP or manufacturing sectors of other countires; the issue is vitality of American manufacturing.The issue is not the education of the labor class; beyond the need for reading and math literacy, the companies train their own workers to meet their own manufacturing needs. The issue is not whether traditional manufacturing industries--textiles, shoes, steel, auto, computers, phones, etc.--can be competitive with foreign competitors or must have protection to survive; the issue is whether new manufacturing industries can be and are being invented to replace the traditional industries and can grow the manufacturing sector of the economy.
The issue is not, to say it again, the survival of traditional, legacy, and existing manufacturing industries and their workers. The single key issue regarding industrial manufacturing is: how do we restructure our economy, our government regulatory frameworks, our tax policies, and our labor policies to create the environment in which new industries will be invented and grow? As a society and political body, we have become blind to the extraordinary obstacles we place in the way of creating new manufacturing industries. If we can successfully invent new manufacturing industries, our labor class problems will be solved. Companies in the new industries will create demand for their products. They will train and educate their own workers. The size and wage levels of the labor class in the new industries will increase. The labor class will step back onto the escalator of upward mobility.