Economic rationalists strike back – why do we need manufacturing?

On the same day that there was good news from the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission – it is recommending a revival in manufacturing – the economic rationalists are hitting back, trying to block any advance for the vital sector.

First, the commission taskforce on manufacturing – Channel 9 media has a leaked copy of the taskforce which does pick up on some recommendations from @AuManufacturing’s new deal plan crowd sourced from readers.

They recommend a 10-year plan with annual goals monitored by a new national manufacturing board with industry, research and union representatives.

@AuManufacturing’s rcommendation two was for such a plan and recommendation four called for a new overarching body we termed a ‘National Industrial Strategy Commission’.

Good news as this is, the economic rationalists who have gifted Australia with the least-diverse, least resilient economy in the OECD, are hitting back.

Economist Stephen Koukoiulas, one of the more sensible of his breed, tweeted yesterday: “Not sure why some people think manufacturing is so important to an economy – many rich countries don’t manufacture much, lots of poor countries have a large manufacturing sector. There’s a lot more to it.”

Apparently, yes we really do have to keep explaining again and again why we can do better than a $100 billion trade deficit in manufactures.

Stephen to put it bluntly, manufacturing is so important because it will save your life.

Our manufacturing sector, which didn’t make enough face masks to protect us from a flu-like pandemic, doesn’t make some even more basic life-saving tools.

Australia produces no surgical anaesthetics, for example, none at all.

Having just been through an operation I know this vital tool of surgery – available to all since Joseph Lister in the 19th century – could be cut off on short notice by an external shock.

Say this shock was a war…how are we going to perform surgeries on our wounded if imports are blocked?

Just as basic, most older Australians have cholesterol and blood pressure reducing medicines such as Lorstat and Adeson in their drawers at home.

These have to be taken every day or the threat of heart attack skyrockets.

Imagine if these supplies dried up and we couldn’t manufacture – there’s that word the rationalists hate – them at home?

So Stephen Koukoulas – do you really believe that saving your life is not a good enough reason to give manufacturing a higher priority?

Of course rationalism has already ended rising wages, full employment,home ownership and inequality…why shouldn’t it expect we sacrifice our very lives for their ‘economy’?

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