American Competitiveness

In the Opinion page article "Bush, Clinton, and a US Industrial Policy," Aug. 26, the author argues that we are seeing the ongoing destruction of United States manufacturing, and that the US cannot compete effectively in the global economy without massive government direction of the economy in the form of an industrial policy. The author's rhetoric, however, is not backed up by facts; evidence indicates that US manufacturing is extremely competitive in today's world economy.

The US share of world manufacturing exports has grown from 14 percent to 18 percent in the last five years, while Japan's share is now smaller than our share. The volume of US manufacturing exports has nearly doubled since 1986. Meanwhile, the same figure for Germany and Japan has increased by less than 20 percent in that period. US manufacturing productivity has risen at an annual rate of 3.4 percent since 1980, a higher rate than Japan and Germany.

The evidence clearly indicates that US manufacturing is very competitive with rivals in Japan and Germany. It is difficult to see how the author can argue otherwise. Mark Wylie, Los Angeles

The author asserts that President George Bush is committed to a laissez-faire free-trade policy. If so, he has my vote. Protectionism is a foe of prosperity here and world-wide. It may be politically popular to talk about saving jobs. But economists understand that consumers benefit from the competition, and that everyone is a consumer.

Tariffs and quotas restrict trade and can cause worldwide sagging economies and even depressions. Free, open trade between nations not only leads to the highest efficiency and productivity worldwide, it also breeds contact and exchanges of all kinds between peoples, increased understanding, and interdependence.

The only help United States companies should have is removing regulations and taxes that impede their effective competition abroad. If companies can't compete they should not be propped up by government subsidies, tariffs, quotas, or interferences in the market place on their behalf. Mary-Jo Wanzer Schumburg, Wantagh, N.Y. Keep family values out of politics

I cannot but be saddened, disgusted, and a bit angered when politicians of both parties try to score political points off of family values. Mainstream politics in the United States is itself responsible for the destruction of the American family. And both parties are equally to blame. Neither President George Bush nor Gov. Bill Clinton has anything to offer. Why should we believe their promises when the needs of families oppose the needs of the power that these men crave?

If America wants healthy families, it must question its political and economic systems. For these systems are based far too much on competition. This is our choice - competition or cooperation. Suan Mokkh, Surat Thani, Thailand

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