I've been in manufacturing (electronic) for about 40 years. My biggest problem
other than making payroll has been regulations. I don't want to destroy the
planet and have never tried. If I want to paint, plate, clean, move, update, solder,
ship, import, export, connect, disconnect, erect, remove, hire, fire, you get the
point, I run up against ENDLESS regulations ALL of which cost money.
On top of that I have contend with the price fluctuations of copper, magnetic materials, steel, aluminum, etc. created by some guy in New York because he can make a buck by trading those daily or hourly.
A few years ago I purchased a mercury lab thermometer from a scientific supply company. The thermometer was $7; the hazardous material handling fee was
$10 (and I picked it up at their dock). I'll bet the guys in the far east don't pay that.
On top of that I have to predict the future to know when wall street is about to create the next recession. My employees have always been like members of my family. Some of the worst
days I've ever had was having to lay off someone. Sorry for the rambling but
I'm ready to move to Vietnam to open a factory. I'll bet that government would
I tend to ignore the words of those who really don't know, and those who clearly have some agenda that appears to be sowing dispair.
Rob is correct in that between the constant addition of government regulations and the constant wall-street manipulations, there must be a lot of "nonproductive" money spent.
The first thing that the government could do is to change the laws so that speculators would need to have cash instead of being able to use credit. Yes, I am fully aware that it would place them at a much greater risk of loss, which is exactly what must happen. Excess credit for speculators was one of the major causes of the Great Depression. Didn't the government learn from that? As an engineer I could see that cheap speculation caused our fuel price spikes, why couldn't the economists see that?
At the same time, to encourage production, the government should relax the controls on credit for infrastructure a bit, in order to encourage investment in real assets.
Of course, to do any of this will require some working togather from both sides of the aisle, which lack of has certainly slowed whatever recovery we could have had. That is not intended to be an endorsement of either side, just an assertion that doing something besides fighting could make progress of some kind.
I have to differ with the thought that we need more engineers in government, if only because the two most prominent engineers (Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter) were not exactly highly ranked in the list of effective/successful U.S. presidents! This wouldn't invalidate the idea of encouraging more involvement by engineers in the political process; having a few more in Congress (both houses) would probably benefit the nation, especially if they replaced either a lawyer or one of the many making our laws who have been feeding from government troughs for their entire careers, never participating in the private economy at all.
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