I just completed reading your 2002 agenda [Jan. 7, Page 6]. While I agree with most all of the points cited in this editorial, it reads a bit like all the company mission statements that I see hanging in almost every lobby of every business I visit.
I respect your publication and realize you must straddle many fences to keep all of your readers, advertisers and industry contacts content. I am sure this is not an easy job. However, isn't it about time to start calling attention to the decline of the American manufacturing base and the permanent loss of hundreds of thousands of decent-wage jobs and benefits to lower-wage countries around the world?
Your agenda speaks of safety first. How much do you think safety is a concern in American plants in Mexico or China? Apparently in the good old U.S.A., safety used to be low enough on the operations totem pole that the federal government decided it had to step in to monitor and punish offenders in this area. If the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were alive and well in Mexico/China/Costa Rica/Dominican Republic, etc., maybe the cost of doing business there would lose some of its financial appeal.
Another negative trend in the U.S. manufacturing sector is the severe downward price pressure put on all goods and services. As someone who deals with capital equipment sales, value is almost an extinct quality. I don't care what your editorial says about fairness, price is almost the sole determinant of supplier choice. And as we continue to squeeze each other's margins, the ability to fund research and development, increase wages and benefits for employees and keep manufacturing plants in the United States decreases.
When large plants close in small-town America, idling workers who made a decent wage with benefits, where do you think these people are all going to work? What percentage of these people will even find work in small towns? Of those who find work, what percentage do you think will have to take a job at reduced pay/benefits? How will this affect the ability of these families to send their children to college? It all adds up to one thing: a decrease in the U.S. manufacturing base and a most certain lowering of the standard of living.
I don't care how much the automotive companies beat down a supplier so they can keep their product competitive. If none of us have jobs, or jobs with a decent wage, we will no longer be able to purchase a new car at any cost. Or do we expect the people in Mexico/China/Costa Rica/Dominican Republic to purchase all the new vehicles we no longer can?
As I am not an economist or lawyer, I am sure you can probably poke lots of holes in the statements I have listed above. I am just a regular working stiff like almost everybody in this country. I am no fortuneteller or genius, but I can clearly see the difficulties ahead for our country if we give up our manufacturing base. I cannot think of a totally service-based economy that leads the world.
My point: Take the gloves off once in a while in the editorial section. I will admit that you do appear to report fairly on “unpleasant” subjects that the industry may rather have swept under the rug. But if you see the present trend I have spoken of in this e-mail as a troubling issue, call some attention to it. I do not have the answers to these problems. If I did, I probably would not be here typing this e-mail to you now.
RM Equipment Sales Co. is based in Raleigh, N.C.