POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Make It, Mine It, or Grow It

by David Trumbull

October 17, 2008

Politicians in Washington and their enablers in the media call recent failures of several large banks and other government-backed usurers a “financial crisis.” Would that were so, for “crisis” means a time of separating or judging, in other words, a time to stop driving the car in the wrong direction, to consult the map, find the right road, and change direction.

Change of direction is the one thing that today’s leaders refuse to consider. We hear cries for more of the same policies that got us into this mess—more regulation and more government bail-outs. More regulations such as the Community Reinvestment Act mandating banks “loan” money to people who can’t repay? And when was throwing good money after bad ever sound policy? They call it “crisis” but what they do is “cry uncle” and look for someone—foreign investors, taxpayers—to bail them out of the one calamity they truly care about—the prospect of possibly not getting re-elected.

Ordinary Americans of 20th and 21st century have enjoyed necessities of life, security, and even luxuries the envy of princes in an earlier age. The bright, hardworking, and daring men and women of Wall Street and other financial markets created new and innovative ways to maximize wealth and gave us the most prosperous society the world has known, and one in which wealth, has been distributed more widely than ever before. In sum, even considering the current problems, our financial markets—at least when left alone—do a bully job of managing wealth. But they do not create wealth. Ultimately you have to make it (manufacturing), mine it (digging or drilling), or grow it (agriculture).

American policy for 20 years or more has been to maximize imports and pay for them with credit. We import oil from the Near and Middle-East rather than drill our own abundant supplies. We have some of the largest tracks of fertile land, yet we import food from sources so dubious that many of us do not consume raw vegetables unless we can ascertain their origin.

At an October 2nd press conference in Washington, George Shuster, CEO of Cranston Print Works of Cranston, R.I. and Webster, Mass. spoke on behalf of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition regarding national policies that have hollowed out our manufacturing sector. “First,” said Shuster, “[we] diverted attention from the true sources of prosperity, such as manufacturing.  Manufacturing is not a paper shuffle sector. It is pure value add. It is basic and solid. And it has been disappearing because our government has decided to make that happen.  Manufacturing has been most devastated by our ruinous trade policy.”

Whatever the results of the November election, the lasting governing majority will be in the party that gets America back into the business of creating wealth and jobs.

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]