The standoff with Arizona and the never-ending BP disaster have spurred enmity between taxpayers, government, and businesses. Opportunism spurred by the discord will compel legislators to pass bills to give the appearance of action, and to appease special interests eager to seize the moment. Anger and outrage have already resulted in boycotts that disregard the issue of whom it is we are hurting when we blacklist businesses based on mistaken notions of culpability.
The president’s political roots harken back to Chicago, so he knows the lesson of the 1979 snowstorm that was the beginning of the end for Mayor Michael Bilandic. He also knows that culpability is rarely the issue in politics. As any street-level Chicago hood will tell you, the most important thing is to make sure that you always have someone to rat on if you are unlucky enough to get caught.
The launch of Sputnik I on October 4, 1957, caught America by surprise. In the face of President Eisenhower’s support of the Vanguard proposal, the Soviet Union’s unexpected milestone shocked us into accelerating our aerospace program, led to the creation of NASA, and ultimately delivered three astronauts to the moon on July 20, 1969.1
While Sputnik provided the impetus for the research and development efforts that led to Apollo 11, we were uniquely poised to accept the Soviet challenge because of technological advances necessitated by World War II and the ensuing Cold War.
Part I: The Employment Picture
We have accepted for decades that the decline of U.S. manufacturing is inevitable, with lengthy analyses since the 1970s dedicated to finding a root cause for the inexorable deterioration of this vital sector of our economy.
Manufacturing employment peaked in 19791. Past economic downturns have precipitated significant drops in manufacturing employment, notably the recession of 2001, which cost us 17% of our manufacturing positions.