Editorial: Unrestricted free trade doesn't benefit the country's manufacturing industry

09/14/2011

Last week President Obama gave a speech with his view of the future of job creation in the U.S. The Republican party countered with its own ideas. Is unregulated commerce destroying U.S. manufacturing? Yes, argues Glenn Beall, author of our By Design series of article and Plastics Hall of Fame inductee, in this editorial.

The demands made by the Second World War created shortages of aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and rubber. In many applications plastics were substituted for these scarce materials. That was the beginning of the rapid growth that produced the modern plastics industry. That war's demand for more and more of everything allowed the manufacturing industry to fully recover from the great recession of 1929. Manufacturing prospered and so did the rest of the country.

By the 1950s there were enough jobs in the U.S. for nearly everyone. The average wage earned could afford to buy a car, a refrigerator, a television, and eventually a house. The cities, states, and federal governments collected taxes, managed their budgets, and had enough money to pay their bills. The national debt was manageable. The economy fluctuated, but the good times mostly prevailed until the frightening recession of 1981-1982 when unemployment reached 11%. That recession slowly faded away, and the economy came back stronger than before.
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