So much for post-industrial America. After decades of our leaders and sages assuring us that the United States would thrive as we moved beyond manufacturing, President Obama used his State of the Union address to officially declare post-industrial America an unqualified bust.
Ours has become, he said, a land of “outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits.” Reconstructing “an economy that’s built to last,” by contrast, means revitalizing manufacturing, he said. The president proposed ending tax breaks for corporations that move offshore and imposing a tax on their overseas profits, while cutting taxes on domestic manufacturers. He promised a trade enforcement unit to investigate foreign violations of trade law — for instance, China’s massive state subsidies to solar and wind power companies, which manufacture almost entirely for export. So far, U.S. manufacturers and unions that suspect foreign countries of violating trade laws have had to investigate such practices themselves: No agency of government has been empowered to initiate legal actions against trade law miscreants, which speaks volumes about the unquestioning faith that our elites have had in the blessings of free trade and the benefits of corporate offshoring.