Throwing the Baby Out With the Bathwater

BoeingWe’ve all heard the news. Boeing announced last week it had just lost two major international satellite contracts, which could impact thousands of American manufacturing jobs, and force the company to start looking offshore to fulfill certain aspects of its production. General Electric, meanwhile, announced a few days ago it would send some 500 American jobs overseas. And other industrial giants, such as Caterpillar, have likewise voiced concern and are now openly questioning the viability of certain aspects of their domestic operations.

CaterpillarSeriously? Weren’t we in this exact same place just a few decades ago? Has the cycle really repeated that quickly? And didn’t all those lean years and all that job bleeding teach us anything?

The problem, of course, is the death of the federally backed Export-Import Bank, a government agency designed to spur new business initiatives and foster international trade. The agency was officially shuttered July 1 when Congress, fueled by a torrent of Tea Party rhetoric about – what else? – small government and no debt, voted to stop funding the Ex-Im Bank, effectively killing it.

Ex-ImA couple of weeks ago I wrote about how clueless those fringy right Tea Partiers are (a bunch of head-in-the-sand zealots who, much to the Democrats’ delight, have completely hijacked the GOP). I wrote how some debt is actually good for a company, and how borrowing capital from a bank to buy a new machine or build a new, state-of-the-art factory is actually a sign of strength; an investment in – and bullish statement on – one’s future.

What’s more, a government works best when it works hand-in-glove with industry to make it stronger, while at the same time policing it so that it operates in a manner that is environmentally, socially and morally responsible.

Debt negotiationsBut these yahoos are so utterly convinced that by simply reducing our debt it will somehow restore the luster to our economy, as if the thing needs fixing. Look, my company is living proof that American manufacturing has spent the past two decades in full-scale hyper-growth mode, achieving production levels and a kind of chest-beating pride it has not known for over half a century.

Time Tea PartyBut all that growth, re-shoring, and reclaimed pride are now threatening to come to a screeching and painful halt. Why? Because a bunch of idiots, a vast majority of whom have never run a business in their lives, or operated even a lemonade stand in the open marketplace, just opted to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Those creepy Kool Aid drinkers so hate President Obama, so want to embarrass, short-circuit and even emasculate him, and so believe in the holy righteousness of their own cause, that apparently they would rather destroy the very thing they profess to love, if doing so somehow proved them right.

But you know what? They’re not right. In fact, not by a long shot. And now we have real-life manufacturers and real-life job-creators like Boeing, GE and Caterpillar to prove just how wrong they are.

Obama jobsAs Caterpillar chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman told the New York Times, “A lot of our suppliers are small. They don’t export, but we do. And if we aren’t exporting, they aren’t selling to us.” He then added, “I find it staggering that we would put highly paid export-oriented jobs at risk.”

Why would the far right do that? Who knows? But it reminds me of the old story of the frog and the scorpion. You know that one, right?

Frog-and-a-ScorpionThe scorpion wants a ride across the river on the back of a frog, who balks, believing the scorpion will bite him. “That’s crazy,” says the scorpion. “If I bite you, we’ll both drown.” So the frog relents, only to be bit by the scorpion halfway across. “But why?” asks the poisoned frog as he’s about to go under. “I can’t help it,” says the scorpion, he too about to go under for one final time. “It’s in my nature. It’s what I do.”

Leave a Reply