Things the United States Makes


By: inoljt,

One of the time-honored American political traditions is to complain about how America no-longer makes things. This is not quite true, however. America still makes plenty of things. In fact, America manufactures more stuff than any other country in the world.

Why, then, do so many Americans think that nothing is made in America anymore? Well, let’s take a look at four things that America makes:

Cars – This is perhaps the least surprising thing on this list. The world’s biggest car company is American. American car companies, however, have plenty of competition. German, Japanese, and South Korean companies all sell many cars inside the United States (strangely, France and Italy are home to some very prestigious automobile companies which have failed to penetrate the American market).

Commercial Airplanes – Remember the last time you bought a commercial airplane? Well, it was probably made in America. Boeing is the world’s dominant manufacturer of commercial airplanes. The only other company that can compete is Airbus, located primarily in France and Germany (Russia also makes commercial airplanes, but nobody buys them).

Construction Equipment – When you look at any construction site, you’ll almost certainly see a bunch of heavy yellow machines with the letters CAT stamped on them. Those machines were made in America. The industry of building machines which build buildings is dominated by one American firm: Caterpillar. The main other company that seems to also be in the business is Komatsu Limited, a Japanese firm with one-fourth as many employees as Caterpillar.

Tanks – It’s hard to tell, naturally, what country makes the world’s best tanks. Nevertheless, America does make a lot of tanks – and it’s probably safe-to-say that the quality of American tanks is amongst the best in the world (the cost, on the other hand…). It seems that the major “competitors” in this field are Germany, Great Britain, and perhaps Russia.


There are several things which are easily noted about this list. First of all, the items listed above are very difficult to make. These items require extensive expertise with lots and lots of parts that have to be put together just right (making those parts is usually a multibillion dollar industry itself). There is generally no room for failure. This is not like making a T-shirt (although America also does do that).

Secondly, America’s major “competitors” in manufacturing are not the countries most people accuse of stealing jobs. Third World countries do not manufacture the same things that America manufactures. Rather, America “competes” with France, Germany, Great Britain, and Japan.

Finally, to answer the question above: Why, then, do so many Americans think that nothing is made in America anymore? Well, the answer is that America tends not to make consumer goods that people buy every day. Rather, it makes things like cars, commercial airplanes, heavy construction equipment, and tanks. But if you ever decide to buy a commercial airliner for your next vacation, or some heavy construction equipment for your house…that commercial airliner or heavy construction equipment is probably going to be made in America.



Credit Where Credit Is Due

The administration noted Wednesday that the U.S. auto industry has added 77,300 jobs since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, that vehicle exports are up more than 40 percent from 2009, and that the nation's Big Three car companies posted operating profits for the first three quarters of this year...Those millions of lost jobs would have been an significant number even in an economy as large as ours. The economic crisis we still face today would have been made much, much worse had the Federal Government led by Obama and the Democrats in Congress failed to act, and act promptly. - Alternet

I, like many other progressives have been highly critical of this President and this Congress in the last two years concerning many of the missteps they have made. However, their actions in bailing-out GM and the auto-industry is worthy of credit. It is one thing to criticize other people and only be willing to highlight the negative and God knows we have turned criticism into a new art form. With the advent of the 24/7 cable news cycle and the need to fill all of those empty hours with distractions and nonsense it is especially important to identify those policies and efforts that do what they are designed to do.

When the wing-nuts were pontificating on the demise of the free markets and the federal takeover of the private sector with efforts like the auto industry bail-out this administration made a calculated decision to step in and save American manufacturing jobs and a staple industry. The lack of repentance on the part of the wing-nuts should be proof for anyone in or out of Washington that these folks have no intention of changing the tone in Washington. You add to this intransigence the results of the last election and the wing-nuts believing they have received some sort of mandate and the prospects of our getting anything done to solve the massive problems facing this nation are almost non-existent. The fact that we have not heard from one Republican to step up and acknowledge they were wrong says volumes about who they really are and what their true intentions are.

At some point in America we have to be willing to overcome our selfish tendencies that have been exacerbated over the last few decades and once again consider what is best for the nation as a whole. The greed that was exemplified during the Reagan years has been pumped full of steroids and we now find ourselves in the grips of this me, me, me mentality. We have become a nation of special interests being led by the wealthiest among us. These folks are willing to flaunt the laws and rules of our country to advance their profit margins at the expense of our country. As a result we have become so tribal that instead of our politicians and many of our citizens asking what’s best for the country the mantra is now what’s in it for me and my group.

The time has come for those who have received the most among us to demonstrate one of the most American of traits and that is self-sacrifice for the sake of our country. We have a history in our nation of people who are willing to look beyond their own self interest for the benefit of the group and often times those people have been wealthy. How many wealthy folks were willing to make major sacrifices during WWII because of the call for self-sacrifice by FDR and the need for the benefit for all Americans? Today instead of an atmosphere of shared sacrifice we have this atmosphere of what can I get out of it. This attitude of selfishness permeates every area of our society. Over the last few decades the rich have done better than most Americans and now is the time for those people to step up and ask what they can do to help the country.

This administration has made a number of miscalculations but in this case they made the right decision despite the protests of the wing-nuts. I hope this success will embolden them to begin to stand up for the American people against the onslaught being waged by the wealthy through their political and media minions. I think this President should call for an end to all of the Bush tax-cuts and return the tax rates to the levels of the Clinton years. I know this is considered treason by many folks who want to consider raising taxes during a recession as insanity, but the truth is that having these lower tax rates in effect have done little to create jobs which is how the middle-class will see their lives improve. Some may say this will be political suicide for the President because of the successful campaign of the rich to equate tax-cuts to this panacea of economic growth that has little if any basis in reality.

Making tough decisions in the face of a crisis is the definition of leadership. The President must be willing to use his political skills to educate the American public on the nature of the challenges they are facing. If I were advising the President I would schedule weekly television addresses and town halls from now to Election Day to allow the President to make the case for what he believes in. My hope is that he believes in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure through public works. I hope he believes in retooling American manufacturing and creating new entrepreneurs through investment. One of the things I think that has been lost in our loss of manufacturing is that the manufacturing industry was built by small plants that over time expanded. We should be providing investment to people who have ideas and products that we can develop for mass manufacturing to rebuild our base and middle-class. This idea that we can never make anything again is insane and being perpetuated by the ruling class to maximize their profits and not to keep America strong.

"Just giving them $25 billion doesn't change anything," Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate's second-ranking Republican, said on Fox News Sunday. "It just puts off for six months or so the day of reckoning." - Senator John Kyl

The Disputed Truth

Young Workers: Hit Hard, Hitting Back

This is a Huffington Post piece by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler.

As the newly elected secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, I traveled the country this fall, talking with workers and hearing their concerns. The economic crisis is causing a lot of pain. So many people have no jobs, no health care--and many are losing their homes. And as I looked into the faces of young workers, the reality hit home that these young people are part of the first generation in recent history likely to be worse off than their parents.

This is a tragedy.

The AFL-CIO and our community affiliate, Working America, recently surveyed young workers--and I'm not talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. I'm talking about 18- to 34-year-olds. In the past 10 years, young workers have suffered disproportionately from the downturn in the economy:

  • One in three young workers is worried about being able to find a job--let alone a full-time job with benefits.

  • Only 31 percent make enough money to cover their bills and put some aside--that is 22 percentage points worse than it was 10 years ago.

  • Nearly half worry about having more debt than they can handle.

  • One in three still lives at home with parents.

There's more...

Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy

Cross-posted at River Twice Research.

The economic relationship between China and the United States is the defining issue of our day. While debates over health care are vital to American society, and while challenges ranging from Iran to Afghanistan to North Korea are real, nothing will determine the arc of the coming decades - or will shape domestic life and prosperity in the United States - more than the emergence of China as a global economic superpower unrivalled except by America.

The rise of China is hardly a secret, but because it is a complex economic that is constantly evolving, it gets less attention than hot-button issues. Absent a real crisis between the two, the relationship is more about the flow of capital and the nature of global business than it is about heated battles inside the Beltway or on Main Street. And while the rise of China and America's increased dependency on Chinese loans to fund its deficits certainly generates anxiety, it's mostly amorphous barring some specific issue to focus it.

How that relationship came to be is the subject of my new book, Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends On It. While this economic fusion has taken more than two decades to evolve, with the crisis of the past year, it has become both a tighter embrace and one more fraught with tension. It's to the credit of both governments - for now - that those tensions have not boiled over.

There's more...

GM to develop 230 MPG car: Oh, NOW you care?

GM in development of triple-digit gas milage car.

General Motors Corp. said Tuesday its Chevrolet Volt rechargeable electric car should get 230 miles per gallon of gasoline in city driving, more than four times the mileage of the current champion, the Toyota Prius.

The Volt is powered by an electric motor and a battery pack with a 40-mile range. After that, a small internal combustion engine kicks in to generate electricity for a total range of 300 miles. The battery pack can be recharged from a standard home outlet.

Now, I'm thrilled that automakers' R&D are finally making a concerted effort to develop electric cars, but GM finding religion on this only now, after they've been faced with bankrupcy, a major oil crisis, and an ecological disaster in the making, makes me roll my eyes.

There's more...


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