Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Optimistic India

A crisp essay on the optimism that is India, where people are making things and spending money. Socialists no more.

ADDITION: Also note this Ashton B. Carter essay from the current Foreign Affairs on our strategic relationship with India. There are two others on India in the same issue, but are not available on line.

Discussions - 18 Comments

Good news from India.

The productive nature of India’s economy cannot be said to be a bad thing, but I think that wishing for a similar quality with the American economy would be foolish. That is, I think the trend away from manufacturing jobs in the United States is a good thing. Just as the rapid push away from an agricultural economy helped America, so too will this newer move away from manufacturing. I don’t have data to support these claims, but it appears that America is better off now than it was thirty years ago when a substantial portion of the economy was in the area of manufacturing.

Dont be so optimistic. Socialism lives and is very strong in India.
They, having retired a little bit in economic arguments (but not ideologically--not even a littlest bit there), have mounted a very strong attack on the social field.

Allan, SOME people are better off today...those who aren’t connected to manufacturing. About 60% of families have experienced little economic benefit from our "post-industrial" society. Now pension systems are faultering, the business-subsidized medical system is crumbling, and we are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign countries for production...including military production. Both mortgage and consumer debt are increasing...where in this picture do you see the silver lining?

Dain- How could I possibly be so optimistic. It is clear that life in America is a terrible thing were everyone suffers from the lack of basic necessities and education is almost unheard of.

No, Dain, life in America is pretty good. Like I said before, I don’t have the statistics to back it up, or the time to really care that much, but I assure you that it is. I know from having lived in both Lansing and Canton that its those areas which foolishly attempt to hold on to a dying industry that are suffering. Those areas moving on, like Columbus where I now live, have just the opposite effect.

Please, go ahead and toss around some more grossly adjusted statistics, I couldn’t possibly care less. The reality is that life is good, despite what you say.

That’s right, Allan, screw empirical evidence...hang on to those subjective feelings. Ignorance! That’s what makes the world go around.

My limited knowledge of Ohio tells me that places like Akron and Canton were built on industrialization, and what we see today is the aftermath...they haven’t tried to hold onto anything. They just don’t have any advantages in the post-industrial economy...smallish, under-educated, no big universities or medical centers...screwed, in short.

Columbus, on the other hand, is the State capitol, yes? Ohio State University is there, yes? Many hospitals and national corporate headquarters? It’s a near-ideal post-industrial city that experienced most of its growth well after the golden age of industrialism...since it never was an industrial city, it never suffered the consequences of deindustrialization.

You seriously need to get a clue.

Dain- For empirical evidence I offer you a map. Lansing is in Michigan. The capital in fact. Also, Canton has many state schools within thirty miles including Kent State, the Univeristy of Akron, several private colleges and numerous community colleges. And, again, you are wrong about them facing the aftermath. Canton has been in a steady decline for decades resulting from poor political planning and an aversion to any business outside of manufacturing. Go anywhere in the city and you will find hundreds of people pinning for their old jobs at Timken or Republican Steel, waiting on false promises of an industrial recovery and being hired back. No, the reason they suffer comes from an ignorant mindset and an aversion to change. Schooling and the privileges of being the capital do not simply account for it.

Lansing, similarly, has been on the verge of collapse since the 60’s. If not for a massive campaign to secure the continuance of GM, which they repeat every five years, the city would economically collapse. The economy has almost no diversity and the education isn’t changing it.

With the exception of places like Columbus that have been succesful for many reasons including the diversity in their economic makeup, states like Ohio and Michigan are suffering in a post industrial folly with high unemployment rates and a rapidly aging and departing population. If they do not let go to the industrial past they will only continue to suffer. One of the few intelligent things Taft has done in Ohio has been his initiatives to bring companies of advaced science to Ohio through tax credits and the like. The billions pumped into the "Third Frontier" program have been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal economy.

Again, I did not use empirical evidence becuase I simply don’t have the time. It’s there. I’m sure you could look for it in an attempt to increase your admitted "limited knowledge." I have a clue Dain. I am afraid that you superiority complex and limited knowledge have led you to be the foulest sort of vitiriol spewing menace that comment on this site.

Happy Independence Day, all.

Well, since you cite a single case and then refuse to dig for additonal information, why should I? I’ll only note that mid-size industrial cities just don’t have the population size and most of the other advantages to make a go of it in this "post-industrial" economy. Right across the Northeast and Midwest, we can see the same results...in Buffalo, Erie, Rochester, Steubenville, Canton, Akron, Toledo, Gary, St. Louis...they are all suffering from the same disease, and it isn’t policy response or "hanging on." Only the largest industrial cities have adapted to some degree (e.g., Pittsburgh), and then only at the cost of increased poverty and a severely imbalanced economy.

Why? Because the post-industrial economy favors only some environments, and only very large (or very new automotive-oriented) cities have been able to compete. If places like Flint and Dayton are "hanging on" to industrialism, it’s because they see the writing on the wall...it’s either they factory or nothing.

There’s lots of urban economics on this, but why should I bother? You aren’t interested in being educated...sad (but not rare) in a college student.

Nor are you interested in educating yourself ... sad (but not rare) in a college professor.

What is all this rot about being a college professor? Call me something respectable at least...like a repo man or something.

Socialism is alive in India...a lot of the new economy in india isn’t reaching everyone. In india income distribution is quite uneven. With over a billion people...American companies will have a hard time employing everyone.

On the other hand dealing with India and forming closer ties with them discourages them from becomming more of a rogue state.

I also think Dain’s views on the effects of income inequality on social stability make more sense in India than in the United States.... We are making a big deal about the rising Indian and Chinnese middle class...but this middle class is expected to make around $3000...jeez...maybe Indians would like to move to Akron or Stubenville or Toledo...pretty sure that the median income is above 3k a year there... I don’t think Dain understands how rich poor old Joe six-pack actually is by world standards.

Dain, name yourself and what you do. Why should any of us care what you have to say? What credentials do you have. You say you aren’t a college professor, well then who are you?

In a spirit of compromose I’ll admit that I’m a recent graduate of Ashland and the Ashbrook Center going on to graduate school in the fall. Also, I’m considerably more interested in why things happen (or don’t in the case of the economies of these mid-size cities) than in an empirical description of there failure. Unless those numbers add something significant to the debate, I could take them or leave them. As my Grandfather would say, "Statistics are the tool of the devil."

The medieval lords used to say that reading and writing were tools of the devil...ignorance hath many forms, but none of them are sublime.

If I wanted to share who I am or my credentials I would have done so long ago. Both are irrelevant. Only weak minds rely on authority alone to ascertain the truth. I do know what I’m talking about, and I’m willing to back it up with empirical evidence. ’Nuff said.

As for caring about process rather than end-state, that’s a false dichotomy. The end-state epitomizes the process (at least, most of the time). What has happened to Rust Belt cities is straightforward...disinvestment and ultimately decay. The companies that built the Industrial Heartland’s cities left (for reasons having to do with labor unions, taxes, weather, improved national infrastructure, etc.). Their decisions to first move South and West, and then out of the country altogether, make perfect sense for a certain point of view, but the public mess left behind has to be cleaned up by someone. More taxes, anyone?

In short, American urban history is that of "disposable cities." Unfortunately, our communities aren’t as portable as private industry, and so millions end up living in these industrial toilets.

What would I do about it? Make laws that 1) restrict unions to issues of safety and job security, 2) set in place elaborate protocols for industrial location/relocation, and 3) high tariffs for foreign importation. Of course, there would be difficulties and unforeseen consequences..when are there not? Nonetheless, business is part of our communities, and (which due protections from unions and predatory taxation) it must become a respectable citizen of its communities.

And John, I am fully aware of the differences between "poverty" here and abroad. My concern is to make sure that we don’t end up living like they do. Our ancestors worked long and hard to provide us with this fine standard of living...I’m afraid we are squandering it.

Disappointing, but not unexpected.

Clearly the grandfather quote was meant in jest. The spirit of it, however, is true. A clever enough man can make any set of statistics suit his needs. You clearly know that.

Process/end-state is a false dicothomy, unfortunately that’s not what I was talking about. The issue is not understanding that rust belt cities exist and looking at the numbers to characterize them, but understanding why they have not moved (which I do believe was the original argument). Your points about taxes and and so on are interesting and finally relevant. They get to the efficient cause for the original change. Thank you.

I find your policy suggestions interesting. 1 is clearly needed. The auto and steel industries in the United States will soon be completely destroyed if that does not happen. 2 might work, but I wonder about the consitutionality of such laws. Given the state of court system in America I would think that such protocols would quickly be overturned, especially at the Supreme Court level.

The 3rd suggestion you make comes with many problems. While it does work, at least in the short term, it tends to cause the price of raw materials and products to sky rocket from a lack of competition. Tariff legislation also violates many provisions of our membership in the WTO. Also, abandoning the WTO could rapidly lead to a situation where escalating international tariffs lead to a depressed world, and thereby domestic, economies. It has happened many times in the past. Clearly there are other factors which would come into play, but such a solution would not be easy to solve.

Given these factors, I contend that while it may be possible to slow the move away from domestic manufacturing and industry, it is unlikely that we will be able to reverse the tide, so to speak. My suggestion, outside of endorsing parts of your plan, would be to focus more upon value added products when it comes to manufacturing (like computers, software, fuel-cell development, etc.). That would allow for more jobs that pay better while focusing upon areas where America is primed to succeed (through education, ability to compete, etc.).

So, I repeat myself, these cities (states, nation?) need to stop holding onto the past and move forward.

There is no way to move forward for Steubenville or Toledo...they will become 3rd World cities (as they shrink).

Prices for most goods fell during the high-tariff days of 19th and 20th Centuries. I always find it humorous that staunch defenders of capitalism never really have faith in it -- there will always be domestic competition, which will be good. Tariffs won’t change that. What they will change is the innovation-killing practice of substituting dirt-cheap foreign labor for domestic labor. The situation today is pretty sad. Some companies are making a fortune producing at very low prices but selling in advanced market (at advanced prices). It’s a windfall...temporarily. Pretty soon we won’t have the buying power to drive that system, and the bonanza will be over.

The bonanza has been over for most Americans for a long time. All we have left is buying power...and the only reason we have it is due to the industrial foundation we laid long ago. What’s going on today is foolhardy.

"Pretty soon we won’t have the buying power to drive that system, and the bonanza will be over."

What is the basis of this claim?

Logic, Don. Buying power is already concentrated in the top quintile...as more and more advanced service industries are offshored, "middle class" buying power will become even more concentrated. That’s the situation in most developing countries, and it could happen here. The class system depends on the economy, pure and simple.

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