We Need a More Resilient American Economy
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
April 20, 2020
New York Times
Though I believe resilience is one of the defining traits of an American, I also believe it’s been absent from our public policy for too long. And this has become devastatingly clear in the current crisis.
Over the past several decades, our nation’s political and economic leaders, Democratic and Republican, made choices about how to structure our society — choosing to prize economic efficiency over resiliency, financial gains over Main Street investment, individual enrichment over the common good.
Today, the result of these failed policy choices is that our manufacturing base is severely diminished, and millions of productive jobs that relied on it are gone. The American domestic supply chain devoted to producing vital medical supplies like generic pharmaceuticals and respirators has withered. For decades America made the conscious choice to facilitate offshoring to China, where labor was cheap, and, critically, the Chinese Communist Party assisted businesses in long-term productive capital development that might seem irrational in the short term.
Largely unable to import supplies from China, America has been left scrambling because we by and large lack the ability to make things, as well as the state capacity needed for reorienting production to do so. As a result, doctors are forced to ration supplies and, in some cases, cease using necessary protective equipment.
Why didn’t we have enough N95 masks or ventilators on hand for a pandemic? Because buffer stocks don’t maximize financial return, and there was no shareholder reward for protecting against risk. Even in government, we became infatuated with the “just in time” acquisition model, as opposed to “just in case” contingency acquisitions.
Today, we see the consequences of this short-term, hyperindividualistic ethos. Americans cannot leave their homes. Neighbors are unable to shake hands. Places of worship are closed. The labor market, especially for working-class Americans in those service industries, is in free-fall.
With the steadfast resolve of American communities and with government support to provide businesses the resources they need to pull through, Americans will overcome the challenge before us. But the society that follows should not be what it was before. We won’t properly absorb the lessons from the coronavirus crisis if we fall back into the traditional Republican and Democratic model of politics. We need a new vision to create a more resilient economy.
Though rebuilding a more productive and pro-worker economy will take time, we can achieve it and ensure that America’s next economic chapter will owe its character to the same spirit of resiliency, solidarity and collective pursuit of the common good that our people are now displaying to the world.
Read the rest here.