Mr. “never let a good crisis go to waste” himself, Rahm Emanuel takes to the pages of the Washington Post with an op-ed proposing ways in which we should respond to the crisis presented by COVID-19. I don’t agree completely with his first two ideas (increased public health spending and creating a “surge capacity” in hospital beds) but I do agree with this one:
Third, despite all the double talk coming from the White House, it is clear our strategic supply chain is inadequate. As demonstrated by the frustrating struggle to produce the ventilators, masks and other equipment that health-care workers need in this crisis, we must continue to make investments in re-industrializing the United States. For years, plants and industries have migrated offshore in search of cheaper labor. While diminished trade barriers have played some role in that shift, the search for lower production costs eroded our industrial capacity. We now have technology that allows Americans to compete on price with more distant economies.
I completely agree that companies have a right to seek lower costs for their products, the components they use to assemble their products, or labor anywhere they care to including offshore. I also believe that we should not be dragooned into underwriting the risks they assume by doing it. I also think that companies involved in the production of strategic goods (the list is long—everything from semiconductors to N95 masks) should be taxed for offshoring that production and the money earmarked for domestic production. It is unconscionable for the U. S. to be dependent on China or any other country for memories, for example, but we are.
I’ll dive into the hospital beds issue in a later post.