By Peter Crawford
The United States is in great need of great leadership. Many former American presidents and leaders implemented active industrial policy geared toward manufacturing at home, and these policies tended to work. There are inspiring examples of U.S. directorship on both sides of the aisle, and they go all the way back to the birth of our country. Since then, the most successful American leaders have made a point to protect American businesses first and foremost.
During colonial times, British law was to arrest and jail anyone with manufacturing talent who relocated from Great Britain to the colonies. In response to this and several trade practices that impeded our ability to manufacture our own resources, economist and founding father Alexander Hamilton drew up steps to build up our own manufacturing – and begin our own country.
Decades later, Abraham Lincoln decided against importing steel from England to build a transcontinental railroad. Instead, he decided to encourage development of our own steel plants. He put import restrictions on British steel thereby giving birth to one of the key industrial engines of growth in this country.
In the darkest days of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt developed a system of import quotas and subsidies for American agriculture. This system remains to this day and that same group of farmers now receives over $180 billion annually worth of subsidies.
Dwight Eisenhower, in the mid-1950s, applied oil import quotas. John F. Kennedy produced the seven-point Kennedy textile program of restrictions on textile imports in 1961. Ronald Reagan put import quotas on steel, machine tools, semiconductors, and a 50-percent import tariff on motorcycles.
We have seen plenty of successful leaders devise strategies that protected and strengthened the U.S. economy. They recognized that manufacturing at home empowers a nation and its companies. It is high time another one of these leaders appeared, as our current choices champion free trade agreements and the outsourcing of production and jobs. They are either uninterested or incapable of making such a change, and this is crippling the American people.
This article was orginally published in Dublin, Ohio web publication Economy in Crisis on May 24, 2012.