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Much is often made of the “deindustrialization” of America. Now, the data do not support this – the US is the world’s largest manufacturer and its manufacturing output today (at least before the recession) was larger than at any point in its history. However, what is true is that the portion of the labor force employed in manufacturing is below 10% for the first time since the middle of the Industrial Revolution.

Since America grew rich from its manufacturing tradition, many people associate the existence of manufacturing employment with the emergence of a middle class and the well being of local communities. Thus, all manner of policies are pursued in the name of protecting the manufacturing jobs we already have, or of creating a new manufacturing economy focused on high-technology and green jobs. Whatever the merits of these ideas are, on their own, is not to be questioned at this moment.

The paradox is this – is not much of the support for the Progressive movement built on the idea that corporations, and factories in particular, are evil and exploitive? How can we so urgently wish to “rebuild” America’s manufacturing sector if it is despising this very sector that seemed to have given birth to the Progressive movement in the first place?

One Response to “Progressive Paradoxes: A Continuing Series”

  1. Mark Lipstein says:

    yay lets prevent the creation of higher paying service-oriented jobs with lower paying, more unsafe, lower technology, but unionized jobs

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