March 1, 2024

Letters: Letters: The Vital Importance of Manufacturing

To the Editor:

Woe is us if the headline on your recent article, “Is Manufacturing Falling Off the Radar?” (Sept. 11), is answered in the affirmative.

If the economic downturn has revealed anything, it is that true, sustainable wealth creation — and the jobs that come along with it — will not arise from the gambling casinos of Wall Street. The key to a healthy economy, and the viability of a middle class, can only be found in an innovative manufacturing sector.

While many Americans believe in manufacturing’s importance to the economy, many also have an outdated view of manufacturing as a sweaty, grimy business. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth, as productivity gains in our increasingly high-tech manufacturing sector attest.

This perception problem is at the root of the article’s provocative question. Many industry executives and associations have been working hard to change this unfortunate view, but without leadership at the national level, the problem has persisted.

That is why I and others have suggested a cabinet-level Department of Manufacturing. This agency would help put industry on the strategic footing it needs — in the federal government, in the industry itself and in the hearts and minds of all Americans. It would help drive home the idea that manufacturing is the bedrock of the economy.

David R. Brousell

Manhattan, Sept. 11

The writer is editor in chief of Manufacturing Executive.

To the Editor:

As for the financial sector replacing manufacturing in its effect on the economy, do we really need more derivative products and the like?

Obviously, one benefit of the manufacturing sector, besides jobs, is the income it generates for the middle class. In my experience, the decreasing size of the manufacturing sector is directly responsible for increasing income disparities, which in turn has a direct economic impact in the form of anemic overall growth. Robert E. Anderson

Allendale, N.J., Sept. 11

Tax Cuts for Business?

To the Editor:

In “How to Make Business Want to Invest Again” (Economic View, Sept. 11), N. Gregory Mankiw suggested a cut in corporate taxation as a first step toward encouraging companies to investment in the economy. Other business columnists have made similar recommendations, all despite news reports that some major corporations have paid either minimal or no taxes for years.

Business organizations clamor for tax cuts as the solution to any problem they face. But when you ask individual business owners about their lack of investment, they often cite a lack of orders and customers. The current tax rates, especially when rarely paid, are no more a hindrance to investment than they were during the boom decade preceding the downturn.

Arthur D. Aptowitz

Forest Hills, Queens, Sept. 12

To the Editor:

As one possible way to encourage the economy’s long-term growth, Professor Mankiw suggested “tax reform that reduced the burden on capital income and shifted it toward consumption.”

But such a view appears antithetical to any theory for responsible government policy during an economic slowdown. Consumer spending, not corporate investment, is the main driver of the economy, and depressing it further with new tax burdens would be counterproductive to any recovery.

Moreover, the cost of capital is not the main impediment to new capital investment today; instead, it is lack of demand for the additional goods that might be produced. Corporate capital costs are already subsidized with historically low interest rates from the government’s aggressive monetary policy.

Jeffery L. Hart

Austin, Tex., Sept. 11

The writer is a partner at the law firm of Cardwell Hart Bennett.

Sales Pitches on Campus

To the Editor:

In “On Campus, It’s One Big Commercial” (Sept. 11), we learn that students are working as brand representatives at their schools, promoting products and assisting on corporate-sponsored field trips for late-night shopping sprees.

What has happened to the long-established function of a university as a marketplace of ideas? Oh well, a plain old marketplace will have to do.

David Charak

Boca Raton, Fla., Sept. 12

To the Editor:

Your article on campus commercialization makes me wonder: Why not take the idea an absurd step further?

Seeing that the cost of college education is growing rapidly, and that online education is still derided because a student will lose the “college experience,” I propose the following:

Offer all classes online but conduct exams only at the store that bids the most for that class. It’s win-win-win: Students can go to school at a greatly reduced price, university coffers are filled and companies can ruthlessly market their wares to teenagers.

And if students and the administrators want to do a little dance in the aisles on the way out from the first exam, all the better — for the store, at least.

M. Adrian Mattocks, Ph.D.

Worcester, Mass., Sept. 11

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