“He may not spend much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it,” Gingrich said of a hypothetical border structure. “But it was a great campaign device.”
In September 2016, Trump vowed to “… lift restrictions on American energy and allow this wealth to pour into our communities, including right here in the state of Pennsylvania, which we love.” Yet there is no way he’ll be able to tax or spend his way to a prosperous manufacturing community. Trump also promised a resurrection of American steel.
Unbeknown to the average worker, Trump has a problem. Returning key blue-collar jobs from China was probably just another campaign device. To be successful, Trump would have to return approximately 5 million jobs. To many outsourced workers, factory jobs represent the decline of America. But that decline has been occurring for twenty years. One person cannot bring back twenty years of downsizing.
The problem is that the vast majority of the crap you buy is already made in America. We make more stuff than what was ever produced 20 – 30 years ago. The problem is that American factories no longer need all those factory workers to make the products we buy. It doesn’t take it doesn’t take nearly as many workers to make steel, or a can of vegetables or computer chips. Even if we manufactured everything here in America, America itself would not require 19 million jobs.
There are other problems specific to the steel industry. According to a Wall Street Journal article, the problem isn’t just that China’s economy is cooling off. It’s also that its state-owned steel mills, which produce as much steel as the rest of the world combined, haven’t slowed down to match demand. Rather, China’s mills have stayed in high gear, which means the rest of the world has been flooded with cheap Chinese steel. Accordingly, U.S. Steel has been on a pink slip spree, including idling plants and cutting staff as part of an “ongoing adjustment” to accommodate for lower demand.
To offset lower demand, no new blast furnace steel mills have been built in decades and U.S. steel companies have recently begun to rebuild individual old furnaces at existing mills. Remaining factories are converting to electric arc furnaces that make the company more “flexible” and “efficient.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is code for lower costs and fewer man-hours – meaning less people are required to perform the work.
The problem is not ours alone. As global manufacturing output increased, the number of factory workers declined almost everywhere, even in manufacturing powerhouses like Japan, Germany and, yes, China.
Trump claimed that only he could save America. However, the answer lies not in a self-proclaimed Savior and Lord. Rather, the real answer is to train and relocate people, giving them the chance to shift occupations while still being able to feed their families. Anyone saying anything different is using a “campaign device.”