I've written before about John Ratzenberger (from Cheers fame) and his show “Made in America.” I've always appreciated his show because of what seems to be sincere interest in how things are made and a sincere appreciation for the “working people” — always taking time to stop and chat, seems to have the Lean concept of “respect for people” down pat. Seems like nothing fake about it.
He is now traveling around, doing a series of town hall meetings on the future of manufacturing in America. There won't be one near me, but if any Lean Blog readers can attend and report, I'd be interested to hear about them. The cities are
- Tuesday, September 25th — Manchester, NH
- Wednesday, October 17th — Des Moines, IA
- Thursday, November 8th — Columbus, OH
- Tuesday, November 13th — Pittsburgh, PA
- Thursday, November 29th — Buffalo, NY
- Date TBD — Chicago, IL
- Date TBD — South Carolina
The topics to discuss include:
During the town hall events, Ratzenberger will encourage voters to ask the presidential candidates three key questions to determine their commitment to keeping manufacturing jobs in the country:
- How will you save American manufacturing jobs?
- What specific policies will you enact to strengthen the American manufacturing base, which is vital to our economic and national security?
- What steps will you take to enforce our trade laws and hold cheating countries like China accountable?
Now, I'm running the risk of getting into political discussion, which I try to avoid here. The talks are sponsored by a lobbying group called the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which has sponsorship from unions and companies in the steel industry. They state they want to be a non-partisan organization, rather than being viewed as “labor-left.” We'll see. Unions and companies can, at times, find common ground in blaming their problems on government policies and foreign competition.
I've been challenged by friends, before, that we shouldn't avoid going to the government for help, that the political and international issues ARE worth attending too, even while work on Lean and trying to become a more competitive company. I'm on the fence, still, if looking for government solutions is “smart business” or “making excuses.” What do you think?
I hope that, beyond looking for government help and pointing the finger of blame, that the town hall meetings will also bring up issues like:
“How can American companies use Lean Manufacturing methods to improve quality and to stay competitive, avoiding the need to chase cheap labor overseas?”
Either way, I'm glad these town hall meetings are being held. It's a good discussion to have, what can we do to help American manufacturing? It will be interesting to see how this turns out and, again, I hope to hear some first hand reports from Lean Blog readers.
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