Demanufacturing

Madison’s Sly in the Morning — on which you can find me at 8:35 a.m. — had an item last week about the 200 job cuts at Fisher Hamilton in Two Rivers, adding, in addition to his obligatory slam of Gov. Scott Walker, “This is a company that used to manufacture all of its products in Wisconsin.”

Conveniently, we discussed this earlier this month. In between slamming and being slammed by Madison, we discussed the state’s poor business climate.

This blog also passed on the words of Tim Nerenz:

We used to make things here in Wisconsin. …

Those with an appreciation for the immeasurable contributions of Wisconsin’s industrial icons of 1910 will find the list of Wisconsin’s top ten employers of 2010 appalling:

Walmart, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Milwaukee Public Schools, U.S. Postal Service, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Menards, Marshfield Clinic, Aurora Health Care, City of Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

This is what a century of progressivism will get you.  Wisconsin is the birthplace of the progressive movement, the home of the Socialist Party, the first state to allow public sector unions, the cradle of environmental activism, a liberal fortress walled off against common sense for decades.  Their motto, Forward Wisconsin, should be changed to Downward Wisconsin if truth in advertising applies to slogans.

There is no shortage of activists, advocates, and agitators in this State.  If government were the answer to our problems, we would have no problems.  The very same people – or people just like them – who picketed, struck, sued, taxed, and regulated our great companies out of this state are now complaining about the unemployment and poverty that they have brought upon themselves.  They got rid of those old rich white guys and replaced them with…nothing.

Wisconsin ranks 47th in the rate of new business formation.  We are one of the worst states for native college graduate exodus; our brightest and most ambitions graduates leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere.  Why shouldn’t they?  Our tax rates are among the worst in the nation and our business climate, perpetually in the bottom of the rankings, has only recently moved up thanks to a Governor who now faces a recall for his trouble. …

But, as Kurt Bauer of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce points out, Washington deserves credit (if that’s what you want to call it) too:

 In fact, federal laws, policies and proposals are by far the biggest cause of uncertainty for manufacturers.

For example, Paul Driessen from the Washington Times recently called the Environmental Protection Agency “the biggest single job-killing agency in government.” Wisconsin manufacturers would agree. EPA’s war on fossil fuels hits Wisconsin harder than most other states because nearly 70% of our energy for residential, commercial and industrial use comes from coal-fired plants.

Pending new or expanded EPA rules include Industrial Boiler MACT rule, Cross State Air Pollution rule, Utility MACT rule, proposed new ozone standard and greenhouse gas regulations.

The Boiler MACT rule alone could lead to the closing of 11 paper mills in Wisconsin and the loss of up to 7,500 jobs by forcing companies to pay more than $400 million to meet new emissions standards.

During a visit to Madison in November, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was asked about the devastating impact of her agency’s rules on Wisconsin factory jobs. She responded that regulations create “thousands and thousands of jobs” for workers who must be hired to comply with the new requirements.

One of the many flaws in Jackson’s “job creation through regulatory burden theory” is that she assumes companies will just automatically spend the millions of dollars needed to update older factories. In many cases, the compliance costs are simply prohibitively high, especially in a weak economy. That means factories will close and existing jobs will be lost.

Manufacturers also complain about the aggressiveness of the National Labor Relations Board, particularly as it relates to streamlining union elections, and the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law, which is tightening credit availability.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it, that those who complain about shrinking manufacturing are aligned with those working to shrink manufacturing.

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