“History records the march of nations and the courage that propelled them to the top. History also teaches us that nations without advancing manufacturing and technology will not long survive.” Gordon Mercer
Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/26/2011 -- Philosophers, economists, theologians and historians have all tried to explain the rise and fall of nations. Is rise and fall inevitable? Must nations, in some spiral of destiny ordained by a higher power, take turns with poverty and prosperity? Political leaders, especially those seeking office, are certain the nation is on a downhill slide. Religious leaders tell us we are in a state of moral decay. Are we stuck on a downhill run with a service economy and little U.S. manufacturing to sustain us? Can we change direction?
What constitutes a nation’s greatness?
Ancient Rome was one of the largest empires of the ancient period. Rome’s greatness began with technology, engineering and effective agriculture. This translated into economic and military success. Rome built roads, invented cement and flushing toilets, constructed bridges, amphitheaters, and coliseums, and developed cranes for lifting and ships for trade. Water power, aqueducts and plumbing were sophisticated even by today’s standards. Rome engineered metals for armor and weapons and had professionally trained soldiers.
U.S. global wealth and power are based on new technology, manufacturing success and a superior educational system. Most modern technologies, from computers to tractors and bulldozers, from nappies (waterproof diapers) to global positioning systems and the internet, were invented and initially utilized in the United States. Until recently, they were also manufactured in the United States. The list is endless and impressive; the Mars Rover, supersonic Jets, advanced satellite systems, lasers, transistors, integrated circuits, weather satellites and advanced computer programming, all developed in the U.S.
Wikipedia provides a chronology of significant inventions. From this list we were able to tabulate the average number of major inventions for three time periods. According to our calculations, from the years 1929 to 1945, a period which included the depression and World War ll, the United States averaged 4.2 significant inventions a year. From 1946 to 1991, we rose to an average of 4.4 significant inventions a year. Then from 1992 to 2009 the index dropped to 1.76 significant inventions a year. What happened?
There are almost as many theories about the fall of the Roman Empire as there are American inventions. Rome had many problems, notably the constant fighting because of borders continually attacked by Germanic tribes. One of the striking things about the fall, however, was that it was preceded by inflation and overspending by the Roman government. Invention and innovation ceased as they struggled with lack of money. Taxes rose driving smaller operations out of business. Where are we on this grid?
Free trade as initially defined in the United States focused on free exchange of manufactured goods. This definition expanded to include technology and manufacturing leaving the country on a huge scale. Post industrial economists argue for service and information economies with very little manufacturing.
With the new definitions of free trade and post industrial society ideas left unchallenged, huge trade deficits, budget deficits, a declining dollar and few items made in America became the norm. Economic tragedy for many has become a way of life as we become a service economy with few made in America products left to sell or create wealth and jobs.
Our leaders debate two ways to deal with our huge deficits…. cuts in spending and increases in taxes. There is a third way. We need to call our nation back to greatness with restoration of American made products, manufacturing, technology and more significant inventions.
Our technological leadership and global power are at risk. In a recent column we wrote about ABC news segments on ‘Made in America’. ABC news reported that if we focused on buying American, whenever possible; it would bring huge, positive change to our economy.
The surprising thing about a Made in America movement is its directness. If we purchase more Made in America products, it will become more profitable for manufacturers to produce goods here than abroad. As manufacturing returns, money for research on advanced technologies and significant inventions return and Jobs return along with U.S. global wealth and power.
More products stamped, “Made in USA” create wealth, jobs and get us back on the sustainable economic path our voters seek.
The Global Digital Post columns are read by readers in over 38 nations. Gordon Mercer is international president of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor at Western Carolina University. Marcia Mercer is a writer and columnist. Go to http://9955.hostednr.com to get to our Global Digital Post Press Room. Views expressed in this column are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations. The Global Digital Post travels around the world.