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A Convenient Myth

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Here’s a letter to The Hill:

You report that “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will tout the Democratic Party’s domestic manufacturing agenda, including a bill that could lead to tariffs on Chinese goods.  In the speech to be delivered at the National Press Club, Hoyer will lament the decline in homemade goods during the last three decades and highlight Democratic efforts to promote ‘Make It in America’ policies as the November midterm elections draw closer” (“Hoyer to tout manufacturing agenda [2],” Sept. 28).

It’s shameful that a person with such a strong grasp on power has such a weak grasp on reality.  In 2008, the value of U.S. manufacturing output – measured in inflation-adjusted dollars – was 84 percent percent higher than it was in 1980.  In 2009, despite the severe recession, the real value of U.S. manufacturing output was still nearly 60 percent higher than it was three decades earlier [3].

Mr. Hoyer and the many other politicians and pundits who keep insisting that U.S. manufacturing is dying remind me of the soldier in Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge Courage [4] who warned his fellow troops with great assurance, but with no evidence, that the army was finally to decamp the following morning: “He came near to convincing them by disdaining to produce proofs.”  The next morning the army remained in camp.

In fairness to these fictional soldiers, however, they – unlike Mr. Hoyer – had no access to overwhelming data that disprove their hallucinations.

Donald J. Boudreaux