I was amused by Joe Wilson’s outburst during the president’s recent address on health care reform. The absurdity of one politician calling another a liar is, after all, rather comical. My amusement turned to irritation when I realized that once reform has been voted down, the only truth that will come out of the process is that the American people have been betrayed once again.
Two weeks ago I shipped a crate across the country. The crate weighed nearly 1,000 lbs., and was destined for the East Coast. I placed the crate in the care of a nationally-known delivery service, watched the truck pull away, and went back to work, secure in the knowledge that my shipment was safely on its way.
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.