Obama Is Manufacturing His Manufacturing Numbers

Thursday, 03 Apr 2014 08:08 AM

By Neal Asbury

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Most presidents surround themselves with cabinet and staff members who have the skill sets required to handle the daunting tasks that they face each day. President Obama has taken a different approach. He hires fiction writers.

If you spend any time looking at the unemployment numbers, for example, the Obama administration puts the national unemployment rate at just under 7 percent. That sounds very manageable, unless you take into account the 11 million Americans who have dropped out of the labor force and are no longer actively seeking a job.

Conveniently, they aren't accounted for in the unemployment numbers. If you counted them, the unemployment rate would be near 16 percent.

So the Obama fiction writers understand that if you can't actually improve the economy, you play around with the data and things suddenly seem better.

The latest fiction work involves U.S. manufacturing.

You will recall that several weeks ago the president held photo ops in three cities to announce that these cities would soon become major manufacturing hubs. This has faded from memory.

Yet, recognizing that the administration probably can't conjure up enough manufacturing plants to make it look like manufacturing is growing, according to The Wall Street Journal, the fiction writers came up with a creative way to make it look like American manufacturing is on the rise.

This slight-of-hand was accomplished by reclassifying assembly and fabricating shops as manufacturing facilities. The upshot is that it would appear that America gained thousands of new manufacturing facilities, which is simply untrue.

According to a 2013 research study by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, uncovered by a reporter, if these pseudo manufacturing sites were to be reclassified as traditional factories, the manufacturing labor force would seem to grow by 431,000 to 2 million workers.

Another creative piece of fiction. We can appear to have up to 2 million factory workers without actually hiring a single one.

Obama's fiction writers explained that the reclassification would properly account for the "effects of globalization."

It's hard to reconcile this logic. If we started to count every small foreign shanty sewing boxer shorts as a manufacturing facility, the United States would look worse, not better.

It's really about creating jobs. Not jobs on paper, but real jobs where someone can make a good living.
The reality is that in the early 1990s, 17 million Americans worked in manufacturing. Today, that number is closer to 12 million. It's hard to explain to the 5 million workers no longer employed in manufacturing plants that manufacturing in the United States is on the rise.

The answer to revitalizing U.S. manufacturing isn't to pretend that the data reflect reality. The answer is to put in place the kinds of incentives that help manufacturers create a business.

Factories don't suddenly spring up, as if by magic. Behind each factory is an entrepreneur with a vision who believed he could build something — and there would be a market for it.

Those 5 million factory workers disappeared not because they didn't want to work — there weren't enough factory jobs created for them. Entrepreneurs want to get back in the game, but several forces are keeping them out, including:

• too much uncertainty in the marketplace

• too many regulations

• too many taxes

• too little access to capital

• too little vision and support by this administration.

It's not unheard of for history to be rewritten years after an event occurs. But it's rare when history is being rewritten even as it is happening.

Where are the voices questioning the numbers being disseminated by the White House? If so many good things are happening, why are so many people discouraged, unhappy and giving up?

There's a program on ESPN titled "The Numbers Never Lie." Maybe they should move that show to a cable news network and use it to monitor the White House. Then we'd see the show renamed "The Numbers Always Lie" — at least that's what you'll conclude when you're reviewing the numbers coming out of the Obama administration.

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