This is a special year: No presidential campaigns, no debates, no Olympic games, no moon launches (yet). Just a plain old vanilla year filled with doubt, confusion, misdirection, the Super bowl, BCS championship, 35 Bowl games, The World Series, a dozen golf tournaments, tennis matches, auto shows and all the other events, which includes the endless string of new movies, that we have grown to expect and support.
A couple of years ago I was in a Las Vegas cab at 5 a.m. headed for the airport leaving ConEXPO on my way to another industry event. The cab driver was from Pakistan where he had been a doctor (MD). He was lured to our world by the promise of freedom, the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a better place with limitless opportunities.
What he found was that his medical degree wasn’t accepted here nor were his years of practice. He was pushing a cab until he could get through the quagmire of red tape required before he could resume practicing as a doctor and bring the rest of his family to the US. After hearing his sad story, he made an observation. He pointed out that entertainment, and in this he did include all entertainment i.e. baseball, football, basketball, hockey, movies, television, cosmetics, cosmetology, plastic surgery, etc., was one of the strongest growing industries in the country. He went on to note that our manufacturing industries were shrinking. And, they are. We, the U.S. were once the number one auto manufacturer and producer of the best cars in the world. Today China produces 10 million more cars a year than does the U.S. Although we are second the countries nipping at our heels – Japan, Germany, South Korea and India – are very close behind us. Footnote: Japan, Germany and South Korea have a combined population that is 50+ million less than the U.S. If India follows China’s lead within the next couple of years, it will be the number two auto manufacture in the world.
So what and what does this have to do with 2013?
If you look at the economic strength of a country you will note that there is a direct corollary between its auto industry and its economic strength/stability/growth. The auto industry, which in this instance embraces motor powered vehicles – trucks, cycles, bicycles, carts, etc., defines the manufacturing strength of a country. An average car can have up to 30,000 individual parts. All the parts have to be produced or manufactured, packaged and shipped to the car manufacturer.
You get the picture; the auto industry needs a lot of supporting industries. When these supporting industries are domestically based the country grows and prospers. When the manufacture and production of these thousands of parts is done off shore the domestic economy shrinks.
Currently there are three US car manufacturers. It wasn’t long ago when the total number was considerably greater and the country was the number one car producer. The importance of all this is that it does translate into jobs which give people the power to buy stuff
As a country we have not replaced lost manufacturing jobs. Our population numbers continue to grow and over time we will see job opportunities come and go as more service industry jobs become available and then disappear as the service need vanishes. Job growth in education, medicine, security, food services and other similar professions are absolutely necessary but without revenue producing jobs you have to ask, “How will these employees get paid?” Right now they are paid for by insurances, taxes, donations or the like. These jobs don’t generate revenue.
When I look around I don’t see an increase in revenue producing jobs. The construction is a major revenue producing industry. It’s a complex mixture of contractors in every construction vocation, equipment manufacturers, material producers and suppliers but once we leave this side of the industry we get into the service side although dealers and distributors tend to be a cross mixture of both. The complexity increases as you add all the other components like material haulers, government agencies, etc. Notice that construction is both revenue producing and servicing. Once the revenue producing side stops producing the servicing side also comes to a halt.
In 2013 we need to see growth in revenue producing markets. We need to go out and bring back jobs that we shipped offshore. To do this we need a government that is focused on growing this market segment. I don’t know if we’re going to get that or if we have become too polarized to compromise for the good of the country. 2012 was a year of profound political polarization. There has been improvement and growth but from where I sit it appears that this is a result in spite of the politicians, it is the country forcing needed growth because of an expanding population and greater demand for the basics, life’s staples.
2012 has come and gone, 2013 is out of sight; we survived another election and the Mayan Calendar concerns and we have been scared with an excess of senseless violence, mounting military casualties. We need responsible government and the only way to get it is by making the people we put in office responsible for getting the job done and that job does not include playing politics. Speak up! Speak out! We have the Internet, blogs, e-mail, and social media along with the old standards like the U.S. Post Office. Tell the people you voted for what you expect from them.
This editorial appeared in the January 2013 issues of the 13 APC magazines.