How Do We Bring Manufacturing Home?
July 8th, 2020
First, we must recognize the need to reduce our total dependency on offshore manufacturing. Can we survive as a nation if we are dependent on others for our electronic systems – the systems that run and control everything from our electrical grid to our military defenses, from our medical systems to our communications?
At this point, the answer is clear: No, we cannot.
The current pandemic has taught us that we cannot depend solely on Asian markets for products we depend on (like medication and PPE).
Because electronics are mission-critical to our way of life, we as a nation must be able to supply and support our own electronic industries.
Go one step deeper:
Printed circuit boards are the infrastructure of the electronics industry. They are what allow the chips to function and the electrons to flow. They allow the customization to occur for each separate application.
Innovation and Scale
Any viable industry requires innovation and improvement. That requires scale and size to generate the revenues that can support the needed research and development.
Think about it: Millions of individual innovations have collectively created the current electronics industry. We need to ramp that momentum up. We need to start that campaign with the circuit board industry because it drives the innovation of the rest of the industry.
We need innovation and scale, and we need it within our own borders, both for economic and national security reasons.
But how do we accomplish this? We:
1. make sure that all military and key electronics systems are built in the U.S.
2. enforce the ITAR rules to prevent technology leakage offshore.
3. recognize and stop the theft of technology, and we spend our tax dollars for American-built products, from aircraft to subway cars to street lighting.
How These Three Things Work:
If a contract is being funded with tax dollars, either federal, state, or municipal, the US content needs to be controlled. It doesn’t have to be 100% onshored; it could be 80-85%, but the point is that a majority of that manufacturing should be US-made.
It’s the same for cars, medical devices, and computers. Tax dollars generated in America should be used to support American companies and jobs. Even if it costs a little more, keeping the dollars onshore will benefit our economy and our individuality.
To accomplish these goals, we’ll need a combination of government regulations, possibly tariffs, and an effort by electronics companies to see that it is in their best interest to have a viable electronics industry.
In the third installment, I’ll talk about the actionable steps we can take to make serious onshoring a reality.