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America Can Compete (When Given a Chance) (As originally published in The Danville/Alamo/Lafayette Today Newspaper, June 2012)

Read Original Newspaper Article PDF here

Our economy has had its share of ups and downs. Fortunately, the era of the “Robber Baron” is over. Next followed the “Gilded Age when America rose to dominance in the world economy because of our manufacturing base. Slowly our economy morphed into the “Global Free Trade” model. Global trade has brought some advantages to the American consumer, yet it has also damaged the American economy. American manufacturing was 53% of our economy in the 1960’s, and it is now less than 8%. Mexico is now the world leader in the manufacture of auto parts. In the 1970’s the dumping of foreign steel destroyed that industry; the new Bay Bridge is 100% foreign steel. In the 1980’s it was foreign textiles. In the 1990’s it was out-sourcing of service industry and call center jobs. Currently our airline industry has to compete against state owned foreign carriers with very deep pockets. Perhaps when a radiologist in India is reading your x-ray over the internet from your doctor’s or dentist’s of fice (coming soon), the doctor’s lobby will intervene. America is not protecting herself through our economic, corporate, or labor practices. Every economist knows that an American manufacturing job is the greatest economic multiplier in terms of providing for our economy’s strength and resilience. Robert Morley sums it up best saying “Admirers of globalization contend that freer access to foreign markets and cheap labor increase corporate pro fits and thereby benefit the U.S. economy. While this argument may superficially sound compelling, it ignores the dangerous long-term effects of manufacturing losses. In reality, outsourcing makes Americans poorer over time , because America’s wealth and technology slowly migrate to other nations.” Since manufacturing has movedto China , which economy is thriving,? America’s or China’s? Germany has protected their manufacturing base by a process called “co-determination” where the workers and the board members of companies work together incorporate governance, keeping in mind the long term health of the company when making strategic decisions and negotiating labor agreements. I believe WE are to blame because of loopholes in trade agreements, consumer shopping habits, and the relationship between corporate boards and American workers. The trickle down effect of cheap foreign labor and the flood of offshore products from industries we formerly dominated has decimated our economic base.

As a nation, we need to encourage the growth of American manufacturing jobs by ensuring that trade agreements and business/labor practices allow us to compete. Author Stephen Young argues that “Brute capitalism – profit-seeking regardless of effects – must give way to moral capitalism to attain widespread monetary and moral well-being.” American Capitalism must be responsible and sustainable in order for it to survive.

From the solar industry, I’d like to share a LOCAL success story about American ingenuity and manufacturing at its finest. Quick Mount PV is a manufacturer of solar roof mounting products. These products lead the industry in innovation, design, quality, and price. All of this is achieved from their Walnut Creek headquarters and manufacturing facility where over 60 employees work. Since their birth in 2006, they have achieved growth of 75% year over year. I would like to commend the leadership and employees of Quick Mount PV. They demonstrate Yankee ingenuity and American business practices at their finest.

America’s largest solar panel manufacturer, SolarWorld, is the leader of the Co-alition of American Solar Manufacturers. As of May 18th, CASM has won a second round in a trade case against China. It has been proven to the US Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission that China has been illegally dumping their solar panels into the US market. America can compete when we stand together in legislation, moral business practice, and resolve.

We recently had the pleasure of doing a site visit for the Deputy Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is responsible for new and emerging solar technologies. What he shared with us: “Today is the right time to go solar. None of the new technology that can last for 25 years will be available in the near future. Current products are the most cost effective, reliable, durable and have proven lon-gevity.” Straight from the horse’s mouth: Now is a great time to go solar.

As a veteran owned business , GoSimpleSolar is proud to practice our own version of “patriotic capitalism.” We’ll use American made products at every opportunity. We’ll do it at a very competitive price . GoSimpleSolar and our customers can rest well at night knowing we’ll have the product support when we need it, and that our product choices have had a positive impact on the American economy. Come see , touch , and discuss our solar and energy efficiency products at our showroom at 114 West Prospect Avenue, Danville.

By Mark Becker,GoSimpleSolar

Mark Becker is the President of GoSimpleSolar, by Semper Fidelis Construction, a Danville based Solar Installation Firm based in Danville. He can be reached at 925.915.9252. For more details, see www.GoSimpleSolar.com or email Mark@GoSimpleSolar.com.