My Mercatus Center colleague Dan Griswold has this superb op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times. It’s an op-ed that all fans of Trump and Clinton should read. (Note that I don’t say that it’s an op-ed that Trump and Clinton should read. Although these two power-mad people should indeed read Dan’s op-ed, their opinions don’t matter, for each will say and do whatever he or she believes is most likely to pave his or her way into the Oval Office. What H.L. Mencken said about F.D.R. applies to each of these two lusters-after-power: “If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he needs so sorely, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House yard come Wednesday.”)
Here are some slices from Dan’s op-ed (but do read the whole thing):
American factories and American workers are making a greater volume of stuff than ever — high-tech, high-value products that are competitive in markets around the world. In the last 20 years, which include enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, real, inflation-adjusted U.S. manufacturing output has increased by almost 40%. Annual value added by U.S. factories has reached a record $2.4 trillion.
What has changed in recent decades is what our factories produce. Americans today make fewer shirts, shoes, toys and tables than we did 30 years ago. Instead, America’s 21st century manufacturing sector is dominated by petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fabricated metals, machinery, computers and other electronics, motor vehicles and other transportation equipment, and aircraft and aerospace equipment.
We produce more manufacturing value with fewer employees than in years past because today’s workers are so much more productive. They are better educated, equipped with more sophisticated capital machinery and turn out more valuable products than their parents’ generation. And as a result they are better paid, with total manufacturing payrolls rising during the last decade even as the number of workers declined.
Global trade has put some Americans out of work. But the total numbers are small compared with the overall national job churn. Indeed, millions of U.S. jobs are eliminated each year by technology and changing consumer tastes, only to be replaced by new jobs that are being created by the same dynamic forces.