Opinion

The Spirit of American Manufacturing

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The History of American Manufacturing

Manufacturing was one of the most important factors that allowed the United States of America to become the greatest industrialised nation in the history of man. The United States created more wealth in a 75 year period of time than the European nations and the great nations of Asia were able to accomplish in hundreds, or, in some cases, even thousands of years. It was America’s spirit of individual liberty that allowed the huge strides in technology responsible for our immense productive output.

All of that started to change in the modern era thanks to massive federal government interventions on the free enterprise system. However, America’s spirit of making things has never left us. That is why seeing a company manufacturing tools on American soil is so wonderful to witness. Overbeck Machine Tools is a maker of variable speed lathes right here in California. The value of a high-quality tool manufacturer operating today in California cannot be overstated. America needs to get back to its heritage of manufacturing. And companies like Overbeck Machine Tools are making it happen in today’s very difficult manufacturing environment. They need to be praised and supported.

It is within the heritage of America that the manufacturing of finished goods resides. At its height, not only was American manufacturing prolific in quantity, but we were known the world over for the extraordinarily high quality of our finished products. It wasn’t until the advent of the disposable economy, ushered in with the loss of purchasing power in the United States dollar, that inferior quality products imported from East Asia and some European nations gained traction.

We produced so much during the years surrounding the industrial revolution that Americans couldn’t consume all we made. This overabundance of finished goods led to a massive export economy that saw America’s products shipped all over the world. This, in part, is what led to our nascent super-power status. We produced and exported massive amounts of manufactured product, and the world sent us their gold in exchange. The global real money supply flowed to us as a result of our furnishing the world with desirable products. In turn, America became the largest supplier of credit the world has ever seen.

This has all changed over the last 100 years or so, owed to the dismantling of America as an industrial power, and its new assemblage as an economy built on financialisation. Gone are the days when we produced real goods. Today, we largely rely on manufacturing operations overseas in China, and other places, to furnish us with the products we need and want. In exchange, we ship the world U.S. dollars. There is a catch, though. There has never, in recorded history, been a major military power that was not concurrently a major industrial power as well, not for long anyway. We are probably the world record-holder of longest time atop the mountain after the decoupling of those twin powers. America needs a return to its roots.

 

Getting Back to Producing

It is high time the U.S. gets back to production. The New York Times reports that the impending trade war with China is having a further negative impact on manufacturing. The article acknowledges America’s reputation for high-quality products lately centred around niche industries. Companies like Overbeck produce and supply businesses with finely machined tools that serve the economy, create jobs, and lead to greater economic development.

Today, more than ever, we need manufacturers like Overbeck to continue producing the things we need for our economy to flourish and to maintain our high levels of consumption. There will be a point when America cannot borrow any more money to acquire the massive amounts of manufactured products we need to sustain ourselves. To this end, manufacturers like Overbeck must be supported, not only by the businesses that buy their products but by both the federal government and the State of California.

America has a storied tradition of making the things that we need to sustain ourselves and to increase the prosperity of our population. We need to get back to our roots as an industrial power, and companies like Overbeck Machine Tools are shining examples of what that looks like.

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