NPR ran an item earlier this week about Donald Trump’s ‘saving’ of jobs at Carrier in Indiana. They interviewed former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D). She said she agreed with the move in Indiana and thought it was great that Mr. Trump wanted to renegotiate trade agreements. And that she is in favor of federal leverage to force jobs to stay in the United States come hell or high water.

I have no issue with keeping jobs in America…but the reality is low skilled manufacturing is going to continue to move overseas to low labor nations (and there will be plenty of those for generations to come) or labor will be replaced by automation. I don’t wholly subscribe to the supposed service economy model but at some point the US is going to have to step up our game at education and research and development and stay the innovative economy that we’ve been since World War II or perish.

But we can’t continue to have one state steal manufacturing from another state via tax incentives…nobody wins. And we can’t continue to give away tax money to keep every low skilled job in the US. And how many jobs can we keep by threatening corporations via twitter? How fast will they all learn to step up their game and blackmail the federal government to gain concessions? The Carrier deal is the first drop in that bucket.

anyway…from former Gov. Granholm:

It is an amazing thing to see on a federal level – the president doing this. Democrats and Republicans are pursuing job providers constantly and trying to lure them or keep them in their states through the only tool they have really, which is state tax credits.

And so to have the president chime in in some way is pretty interesting. You know, you’ve got to – despite the fact that there’s some controversy over how many jobs are created, you’ve got to give him credit for trying.

[by the way: her repeated reference to Mr. Trump here as the president really pissed me off…Mr. Trump is president-elect and we still have another president in the White House currently. A Democrat dissing our president!]

I am all about anybody who’s obsessed with trying to keep jobs in America in a global economy. Now, can the president do this indefinitely – calling up every job provider across the country and trying to persuade them if they threaten to leave – of course not. But what he could do is to see a national policy that helps governors try to keep and create industrial clusters in their states. You just have to make sure that it is a policy that works overall and not just on one-off deals.

Renegotiating trade agreements – that’s great. Do it. Negotiating the ability for governors, for example, to offer training packages that are specific to job providers – you could consider helping – like Germany does – helping to subsidize people to learn on the job working, doing apprenticeship programs that are really focused on the jobs of the future. All of those are things that you could do and that he could be working on.

Manufacturing is here. We’re going to have stuff, and it’s going to be made somewhere. And all of that stuff is becoming very sophisticated. So for the United States to be going after manufacturing products that are complex, that are sophisticated, that require a level of training, those are opportunities for us.

She finally got it right with her last sentence! The US needs to continue to lead in the manufacture of sophisticated products just like we already do. And that will require amounts of training beyond the skill sets of many of our current laborers. But we are never going to make shirts here again. Or toasters. Or book shelves.

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