Here is a 45 minute audio program from National Public Radio, discussing the future of manufacturing, focusing on the question of “how are we going to have a rising standard of living in the U.S. with falling manufacturing employment?” The main guest is a professor of mine from MIT and the Leaders For Manufacturing Program, Don Rosenfield. No easy answers, but this show is representative of the struggle and debate that's going on right now.
Update 2/24/06: I'm not above being goaded into further comment by our cranky lean pal Bill Waddell. I'll agree there wasn't anything particulary enlightening in the show. One thing that frustrated me was how Don was really put on the spot by the liberal host and the retired-auto-worker callers.
They demanded that no individual be hurt by the shift in our economy, whether its due to companies making (dopey) decisions to chase cheap Chinese labor, or due to productivity improvements. That's not how our economy works. We can't afford to protect all individuals… so if I were Don, I would have had trouble keeping my cool while be bombarded with that socialistic attack. That's my natural crankiness coming out, Bill. :-)
While I believe we can't protect individuals from the standpoint of government relief, I still hold by the recommendation that companies marry lean efforts with a “no layoffs” pledge… only if they can grow and take their savings through hiring avoidance rather than layoffs. If companies want to be dopey, I don't think we can demand the government to protect us by closing the borders or any of the other crazy things suggested by the socialists on the NPR show.
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