Losing our manufacturing capabilities to China is hurting our national security Featured

3:59pm EDT April 15, 2011
Losing our manufacturing capabilities to China is hurting our national security

The mass exodus of manufacturing from the United States to China has reached the level to be considered a threat to our national security.

Between the 1940s and the 1960s, American industrial might was unequal in the world, and a solid domestic economic base was established. Until 30 years ago, our industrial might and the strength of the American economy were the driving force in our foreign policy dominance worldwide.

Reduced investment in the nation’s infrastructure, reduced investment in education, the national policy of permanent entitlement programs, reduced investment in long-term research and development, and squandered resources on grossly overfunded military spending and on privatization schemes resulted in the massive increase in the size of government and in the quality deterioration of government services.

The 1970s and 1980s promotion of globalization and lax regulation only accelerated the loss of American manufacturing jobs and factories. When we should have been investing in the industrial sector modernization and promoting policies to strengthen and increase the dwindling middle class and eliminate income inequality, we went on a binge that benefited Wall Street’s greed at the expense of the manufacturing sector, which had created the middle-class lifestyle under which so many Americans flourished.

Since 2001, the country has lost 42,400 factories, including 36 percent of factories that employ more than 1,000 workers (which declined from 1,479 to 947), and 38 percent of factories that employ between 500 and 999 employees (from 3,198 to 1,972). An additional 90,000 manufacturing companies are now at risk of going out of business. Prior to the banking collapse of 2008, U.S. industries, such as machine tools, consumer electronics, auto parts, appliances, furniture, telecommunications equipment, and many others that had once dominated the global marketplace, suffered their own economic collapse. Manufacturing employment dropped to 11.7 million in October 2009, a loss of 5.5 million or 32 percent of all manufacturing jobs since October 2000. The last time fewer than 12 million people worked in the manufacturing sector was in 1941.

China today reportedly controls about 93 percent of the world’s supply of precious minerals. These minerals are the main component for the manufacturing of printed circuit boards, which are in every component in personal computers, cell phones and MP3 players. Printed circuit boards also control cars, our airliners, our industry, and our high-tech military systems and weaponry.

Our tax base is shrinking, because of the loss of manufacturing and production capacity, while our spending is beyond our means. We are borrowing trillions of dollars from foreign nations to pay for the runaway overspending. Many of these nations, like China, oppose our policies of freedom and democracy, and because of the decline in our economic dominance, they are emboldened to commit acts of oppression against other nations.

As we plunge deeper in debt to them, they are openly demanding that we change our foreign policy and position of support to people, to ideology of freedom and to nations threatened by China, Iran and other oppressive governments.

It is a slippery slope where our own internal freedoms will be challenged by these nations. We must pull the alarm lever now and bring our factories home before we become global slaves instead of a nation of free and proud people.

Amir Soas is an associate professor of national security and Near East studies at Tiffin University where he teaches Counter Terrorism and Counter Intelligence Analysis, Weapons of Terrorism, Forensic Anthropology, Emergency Management, and Arabic. He is certified as an indirect instructor in emergency management for the Department of Homeland Security, Institute of Domestic Preparedness. Soas is an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Marine Corps. During his service, he received meritorious promotions and the good conduct medal.