Automation & Control Engineering

Automation & Control Engineering

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Should the government support the return of manufacturing jobs to the U.S. by funding research, tax credits, and supporting STEM? If so, what/how much. If not, why (eg., not govt's place) Manager's Choice

Senior Director, at Oracle

  • Comment (47)
  • January 30, 2012
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  • Stephen G.


    Stephen G.

    President at SwiftProtech

    Interesting question Alex. I am going to bite on your choice of words here. Short answer is YES. I think its good to 'support' business but not control/direct or manage it in any way. I don't think government does a good job in that role. This question also begs a discussion on regulations which I think has plenty of room on both sides of the discussion for vigorous debate. Generally speaking I think government inefficiency has lead to a Tsunami of regulatory red tape. IMHO. Last comment, supporting STEM is a better use of tax dollars than many entitlement programs but we have to get our budget in order before incurring more debt.
    ....Good question.

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    NO!! This would be another case of the government picking which R&D qualifies and those that don't. The government should reduce the corporate tax rate which is the second highest in the world so that the companies can decide how to spend their money and do their own R&D.

    Look at Solyndra! I rest my case and it is a slam dunk.

  • Dean M.


    Dean M.

    Senior Tech Specialist - Software at QuadTech

    No. The free market should remain that, driven by customer needs.

  • Brian K. H.

    Brian K.

    Brian K. H.

    President Aptus Control Systems

    This is an interesting question. I find both Stephen and Peter's responses interesting and I am sympathetic to both positions. I do think STEM is important for our nation going forward and as such money would be better spent there than many other places it is currently spent, but in general I am for smaller government/less intrusive government and opposed to this sort of spending. My perception of what is driving manufacturing overseas is economics, rather than the available pool of talent or knowledge, so I think funding of research and STEM would not do a great deal for manufacturing in the US. Tax credits may do more, but I would prefer reducing the corporate tax rate as Peter mentioned and leveling the playing field in the regulatory environment. Currently we have a more expensive labor pool , high tax rate, and US companies are encumbered by a host of regulations that are not a part of doing business in many other countries. I think many of these regulations are well meaning, but are they accomplishing the desired results. When we make it economically unfeasible to do business here due to restrictive environmental regulations and health and safety regulations, do we inadvertently drive business to less restrictive locations, and hence pollute another part of the world, or engage in unsafe manufacturing practices abroad and endanger the health and safety of other people groups? I think we really need to look at the regulatory environment, and the red tape of doing business in the US and I think we should curtail some of this to be more business friendly, but I also wonder if we shouldn't require businesses abroad to meet our standards for safety and the environment it they want to sell their products here. Policing this becomes an issue and it may be perceived as a tariff which could present other issues with our trade partners, but currently the playing field is not level, and economics drive businesses and there are many incentives to do business elsewhere and I don't see that trend changing without significant adjustments to those things which encumber manufacturing in the US and hence drive the cost of manufacturing here.

  • Chris B.


    Chris B.

    CASIS Specialist at ALF Technical Services

    Should government support the return of manufacturing jobs? Absolutely
    Should they do it by funding research? No as a lack of research funding isn't keeping manufacturing jobs out of the USA.
    Should the government provide tax credits? No unless they apply to every business segment equally as government should not pick who will win and who will lose as this will ensure that we all lose.
    Should the government support STEM? Yes, although they must be careful with gov't action in a free market. They can use money to inflate the market by increasing either the supply of educated workers or the demand for them. Take your pick. But messing with markets is always risky if a little bit is good it doesn't mean more is better. It will take a combination of activities to be successful. Additionally there has to be some trust between business and government. Business' must be able to trust that the government won't tax and regulate them to death, and government must be able to trust that business will be responsible partners. Right now, IMO, neither is deserving of much trust.

  • Michael G.


    Michael G.

    Engineering Recruiter at City and National Employment

    The government is not designed or equipped to make decisions regarding investment into companies or programs just to bring back manufacturing back to this country. What they are in a position to do is make manufacturing and tax rates more competitive in this country for business that conducts business here in the US or companies that would like to come to the US to manufacture.

    Programs such as STEM that encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are a good foundation but it can’t be all about talk, it needs to move to the forefront. They have been throwing money at this subject since 2005 but all I ever see is the promotional talk and no accountability or reports of effective results. I am sure there are effective programs in place, but let’s get the factual and accountable response to see if the money is producing the results we expect. Let’s not wait till ten or more years go by and decide if the program needs refinement.

    Government can’t continue to throw money at problems; it needs to legislate free enterprise with the least amount of restrictions for manufacturing to conduct business here in the US. I am not saying we should not encourage overseas investment; or overseas investment to come here, what is important is a government and society that does not just encourage a service based economy but one that puts ownership back through manufacturing and build. If we are to be a successful and prosperous country we have to believe and strive for manufacturing as a way of life as the framer does farming.

    It wasn’t that long ago that Henry Ford said " if you think you can you will and if you think you can’t, you won’t". Maybe we just have to continue to think and do the best we can without the government handouts. We are an innovative society at best and we should be able to figure out our problems with solutions to benefit our society without a lot of government intervention.

  • Stephen G.


    Stephen G.

    President at SwiftProtech

    @Michael well put.

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