Where have all the American auto makers gone? Once hundreds, then dozens, today three, one of which is owned by FIAT of Italy. Why does Japan with its smaller economy have eight: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Daihatsu, Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki, and Mitsubishi? Plus four motorcycle makers, while all we have is Harley Davidson?
Obama tried to save Solyndra, maker of advanced solar panels, hoping to give the U.S. a competitive edge against China, now cornering the market with an inferior but cheap product. Its failure was greeted with screams of triumph by Republicans who seem to be rooting for the U.S. to fail. They screamed with rage when he bailed out GM, now paying back the US taxpayer, earning a profit, and maker of the Volt, the most promising of all electric cars.
As for cameras, I can’t think of one made in the USA. Not that we ever had many. Kodak did make some good ones and invented digital photography, but afraid to threaten its film business, sat on it while the world went digital. Now Kodak is fighting for existence. The hopeful exception is Apple, although it has factories in China. And without Steve Jobs, its prophet/visionary, will it atrophy like the others? Are bean-counting CEOs with the imagination of termites outsourcing the future?
Mitt Romney, claiming to understand how business works, promises to cut taxes, scrap regulations, cross his fingers, and hope for the Bush Depression to “run its course.” Ruined lives are not part of the calculus. His money business, Bain Capital, never made anything, or even put money into manufacturing, preferring companies that bought and sold like The Sports Authority, and Toys‘R Us, also mail order, for-profit education, for-profit medical care, entertainment, and communications. Bain’s “manufacturers” were Burger King, Domino's Pizza, and Dunkin' Donuts. Making pizza, hamburgers, and donuts must be Romney’s idea of a vital American economy.
Is the U.S.A losing its ability to make things? Some shrug it off saying our future is a “service economy.” A whole nation “in service,” like the Downstairs staff in “Upstairs Downstairs.” Is a country that hacked itself into existence out of a forest primaeval now reduced to supplying money management? President Obama tries to revive things with injections of stimulus. Skin-flint Republicans try to stop him.
Many believe that the next big thing will be electric powered cars, which may be why two newcomers, Tesla and Fisker, are in the game. Too bad they’re suing each other. And although GM’s Volt shows great promise, the Addled Radical Right is attacking it for some hare-brained political reason. Are American common sense and American know how relics of the past?