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HIVE TOPIC OPEN: Sept. 16, 2012 - Oct. 16, 2012

How can American manufacturing be reinvented to thrive in an era of globalization?

Good Pay and Regulation


American Manufacturing could be reinvigorated by good wages for factory workers and high consumer product regulation - as strange as that may seem at first glance.

Good Wages for Factory Workers: First of all, American manufacturing companies, and American consumers, need to realize that there is simply no way that factories in American can compete with factories in the developing world on labor price. No matter how many unions are dissolved, how low minimum wage is, or how small benefits packages are, a company simply can't pay an American worker low enough to compete with a worker in a country who can be paid 50 cents an hour. American manufacturing just can't compete on labor costs, it has to compete on something else. That something else has to be consumer confidence and quality. Competing on labor price is just not possible.

High Consumer Product Regulation: Consumers need to know that if they purchase an American made product, that no product in the world is safer or of higher quality. Consumers need to know that if they give their child a Made in America toy, that it would never contain any harmful chemicals, that it is completely safe, and that it was built in a factory by adults who were paid decently. A teenager who buys an MP3 player made in the US should be proud that he purchased a product that wasn't made by children who are forced to work in a factory instead of going to school.

Selling the concepts of well paid factory workers and high regulation to consumers: American companies need to be proud of the fact that they only employ well compensated adults who use safe machines, work in good environments, and are proud of the products they produce. Consumers need to be reassured by various advertising campaigns and perhaps a "A Safe Product Made in a Safe American Factory" sticker or something similar placed on consumer products. Consumers need to be reassured that American manufacturing regulations are there to protect them from dangerous chemicals, and that they cannot be assured that products created in non-democratic countries will be as safe. Documentaries should be made about appalling labor conditions in some offshore factories that create products American consumers buy daily. The farmer at my local farmer's market is happy to show me a picture of happy the chickens who laid the eggs he sells. He is proud that they aren't caged chickens. Why don't we pay as much attention to the human beings who build our cell phones as to the chickens who lay our eggs? Companies should be equally proud (and proudly advertise) that they only use adult laborers who are well compensated, live in the United States, and that they do not resort to hiring factory workers in areas of the world where workers' rights and freedoms come second to what the local strong man gang thinks should be done. Additionally, American regulatory agencies need to have the teeth to be able to take way an American company's seal of approval if that company doesn't meet strict health and safety guidelines. An American Manufacturing commercial could feature an American mother trying to decide between two dolls to buy her daughter for her 7th birthday. One doll is cheaper and was made in offshore in a country with dubious labor standards and a political leader who was not elected democratically. The other, slightly more expensive, doll was made in The United States. After considering that the American doll is guaranteed to be free of dangerous chemicals and not built by a little girl factory worker who looks just like her daughter - the mother decides to purchase the American doll.

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