Jon Rynn: Manufacturing Green Prosperity

What if there was a two-for-one solution to both our jobs crisis and our energy crisis?  What if we could kick our addiction to oil and bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.?  Jon Rynn, author of Manufacturing Green Prosperity: The Power to Rebuild the Middle Class, believes it’s time to invest in new green infrastructure and manufacturing, and push our country towards a more sustainable energy plan while getting Americans back to work.

One of the most pressing economic issues facing the U.S. is that our manufacturing sector has been outsourced; most of it, permanently. With factories shuttered around the country, millions of Americans have been left without a place to work, with little chance of their jobs ever returning.

Additionally, our addiction to foreign oil leaves our country teetering on the edge of a “second great recession,” as economist Peter Morici wrote today, which could put a chilling effect on economic recovery.  He writes:

Should oil surge to $140 a barrel, gasoline prices would pierce $4.00 a gallon and U.S. growth could slow to a mere 2.5 percent. That would be barely self sustaining and not enough to create many jobs-likely many fewer than the 1.5 million needed each year just to keep up with population and labor force growth.

Developing green energy solutions may be the single most abundant place that we can create new manufacturing jobs by the millions, he says.  ”Manufacturing is the foundation of a wealthy economy,” says Jon. “You really can’t have a wealthy nation unless you have a strong manufacturing sector. So what we have in this country now is a hollowing out of the manufacturing sector for decades… what we need is we need some way to boost that manufacturing system to create a demand so that firms can know that for the next 10 or 20 years is going to be a market for their goods.”

Also critical to the discussion is price manipulation of energy and the hidden costs of doing business in the Middle East.  Without doing that, we’ll never actually get the marketplace to reflect the fact that “cheap oil” is not so cheap once the cost of war and environmental damage are factored in.

“Because of the unholy alliance that exists between business and state in this country, we know that supply gets manipulated by virtue of tax subsidies and other mechanisms in the legislature but more importantly, price gets manipulated  – particularly for oil — in such a way that the marketplace that some of our right wing friends would so passionately advocate never actually is put into motion,” says Dylan.

Jon Rynn is a visiting scholar at the CUNY Institute of Urban Systems and author of the book Manufacturing Green Prosperity: The Power to Rebuild the American Middle Class.   He blogs at New Deal 2.0, a project of the Roosevelt Institute.