Get over the factory fixation

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

John Tkacik [letters, April 19] writes that "the most unsettling aspect of China's economic power is its manufacturing output. According to the latest figures in the CIA's World Factbook, industry accounts for about 22 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and about 49 percent of China's." Because he doesn't elaborate, Mr. Tkacik apparently believes that this fact speaks for itself and that its message for Americans is ominous.

He's mistaken.

Do today's Americans suffer a lack of access, or even shrinking access, to industrial production? Would our economy be strengthened by policies or trends that force surgeons, software engineers, airline pilots, gourmet chefs and other service-sector workers back to toiling away, as their parents and grandparents did, in factories and in mines? If someone you care about suffers a serious illness, would you prefer an America full of sawmills and seamstresses or one planted thick with doctors, nurses and pharmaceutical researchers?

Donald J. Boudreaux, Fairfax

© 2010 The Washington Post Company