A Sign of the Times

Do this

Don’t do that

Can’t you read the signs?

–Signs, Five Man Electrical Band (1970)

A few days ago my daughter Stephanie, who lives in San Francisco, called. “Have you seen that huge new billboard about China? It’s hard to miss as you get on the Bay Bridge.” I had no idea what Steph was talking about. 

A quick Google search filled me in. On March 26, 2012, the Alliance for American Manufacturing launched a nationwide effort to keep taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects truly Made in the USA. Kudos to AAM for coming up with a brilliant, spot-on campaign.

From the organization’s press release:

A national Should Be Made in America campaign by the non-profit, non-partisan Alliance for America Manufacturing (AAM) kicks off today at the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, a massive construction project that was outsourced to China at the cost of thousands of American manufacturing jobs.

The Should Be Made in America campaign will feature outdoor and digital advertising as well as online activism to urge the use of American-made components for infrastructure projects financed with U.S. tax dollars.  The campaign launches with two large billboards stationed near the Bay Bridge that feature the flag of the People’s Republic of China inscribed with “The Bay Bridge/100% Foreign Steel.  ShouldBeMadeInAmerica.com” 

Kudos to AAM for a brilliant billboard campaign (and thanks, as well, for sending over the photo). I know we’ve discussed the Bay Bridge fiasco several times, but for those interested in further reading about yet another tragic outsourcing tale, check out this investigative piece by the American University School of Communication. And this, from The New York Times.   

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4 Responses to A Sign of the Times

  1. deltaflute says:

    haven’t looked into it, but maybe subsidizing those projects further. If the issue is cost from the US company for it’s workers versus those of the Chinese, then subsidize.

    A news reporter interviewed a guy from California and he said the problem was speed due to the lack of welders. The problem in America is that unlike Europe we push our children to go to college instead of learning a trade. In my opinion, we need to start to make learning a trade important including offering financial incentives to those who go that route instead of going to college and dropping out. I’m not saying don’t go to college rather I’m saying the tide should turn from the need for a degree to learning how to do a job.

    • Tina Polito says:

      Laura,

      While I resist the idea of government subsidies, I totally agree with you about your other point. I’ve talked with many folks in skilled manufacturing who are so frustrated by our current educational system. They have a tough time pleading their case with high school counselors. And parents won’t even consider the “m” word (manufacturing) for their students. This despite the fact that many, many students aren’t interested in a college track, and despite the fact that there are literally thousands of skilled manfacturing jobs, with decent pay and benefits, available to anyone trained and ready to go.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Only about 27 percent of US citizens over the age of 25 have graduated from college. But over the past several decades, many of the vocational education classes have been phased out in US high schools. What is wrong with this picture?

    Students in European countries are given the option of vocational training while they are still of high school age. Many American students would like to have this same opportunity to learn a trade before they finish high school.

    • Tina Polito says:

      Carolyn,
      Your comment touches on one of the most pressing issues of our time in this country, in my never-to-be-humble opinion. In our zeal to send “everyone” to college, our country has taken a baby/bathwater approach, tossing vocational programs out, and with them the life-paths so many students would’ve enjoyed. Skilled manufacturing educator / leader / engineer Dr. Mark Martin (Stanford, MIT) has been at the forefront of this troubling issue for years. Skilled manufacturing, he says, needs an image make-over. Parents and high school counselors simply hold up their hands and say “No way. Not for my kid / students.” And yet there are thousands skilled manufacturing jobs currently available (increasing daily as boomers retire), offering excellent entry level pay and benefits. Please keep your informative, well-researched comments coming. You are amazing! Thanks much!