This morning I did a brief video on the need for a National Institute of Manufacturing. More specifically, we should have the National Institutes (plural) of Manufacturing (NIM), with centers dedicated to specific subject matter with the potential to help promote economic prosperity and security for our Nation.
Why is the NIM so important? The Godly purpose and the promise of manufacturing is to provide us a level of material comfort sufficient that we can house, clothe and feed ourselves. At that point we can focus on what really matters — taking care of our families, helping others in the community, and contributing to a Nation that is strong and proud and capable of supporting the goal of a peaceful and stable world.
- We’re Leaving Money On The Table: I was sensitized to the importance of manufacturing when I served as Associate Director for Communications at the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, out of NIST (now called Manufacturing USA). In that position, I learned that the United States is at tremendous risk of losing its competitive advantage in manufacturing as other countries bring new ideas to the lab and then to market.
- Other Countries Are Doing It: Other countries are taking manufacturing seriously enough that they are investing in manufacturing directly and deliberately. It makes logical sense to do so: What better way to serve the people than to learn how to feed, house, clothe, transport and defend them efficiently and cheaply?
- We Didn’t Debate The Different Models Fully Enough: The Obama program is a set of public-private partnerships. The business model was defended not only on its merits (that they would be uniquely situated to promote innovation gains) but also that the American people did not want to hear about yet another centralized government program (i.e. a centrally funded manufacturing agency). However, by keeping the concept of the National Institutes of Manufacturing (NIM) off the table, we lost the opportunity to debate whether such a structure would ultimately be more beneficial to Americans. My personal opinion is that we do need a centralized government structure, similar to the National Institutes of Health, which funds basic research and which makes the results of that research available for the benefit of Americans regardless of their affiliation with the program.
- Financial Accountability: The Obama-era program was stood up in great haste. It is not an exaggeration to say that hundreds of millions of dollars went towards it. Though the people involved are extraordinarily smart and no doubt motivated to promote national innovation and prosperity, the lack of a defined accountability structure and the involvement of extra-governmental parties promotes a lack of transparency and accountability. Having the NIM located within government would make Congressional oversight far more effective.
- A Government Institute Can Better Control Intellectual Property: Other nations are taking our money as they copy our inventions. A government-run institute can control IP and stage the release of information so that that Americans have the advantage for a certain period of time before others (frankly, our enemies) can get their hands on it.
- Sharing The Wealth Happens Eventually Anyway: The point of the NIM is not to prevent the rest of the world from recognizing the gains of innovation. The point is that Americans need to manufacture food, housing, cars — we need to manufacture wealth — in order to be effective at taking care of our people.
- The Pie Grows Bigger: Innovation comes from God, and God can create infinite wealth. The false belief that “there’s only so much” leads to a competitive mentality that limits our opportunity to innovate. The NIM would help us to grow wealth for the benefit of all, and to apply our resources more intelligently.
The fact of the matter is that many kids in America are going to school hungry, and their parents are living on ramen noodles. We can and should get to the point where the manufacture and distribution of food and other necessities is a top national priority.
Photo credit: kallu/Flickr (Creative Commons). Posted by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal on September 13, 2017. All opinions are the author’s own and do not represent any agency, organization, entity or individual. The written content of this post is hereby released into the public domain.