- - Monday, February 22, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

When a Chinese textile mill announces that it’s moving to South Carolina, that’s news with nostalgia. For decades all the mills have been moving out of the United States, many to Asia. The coming mill is part of a growing Chinese investment in South Carolina, including a golf course and a $500 million automobile plant by Volvo, once a mainstay of the Swedish industrial economy, and now owned by the Chinese.

The Chinese investments have produced a thousand jobs in South Carolina, and more are on the way. South Carolina has had remarkable success in pursuing European investments, notably in automobiles, and 130,000 South Carolinians now work in European-owned plants. The Europeans are attracted by tax concessions and a large, willing and hardworking workforce.

The return of textiles carries a special poignancy for the state, which like other Southern states successfully seduced northern mills in the early part of the 20th century. Then they watched those mills flee to low-wage countries abroad. The phenomenon is history repeating itself. The shale-oil revolution, which has dramatically reduced energy costs, encourages the return of prodigal industry. Petrochemical plants, drawn to the American abundance of natural gas, makes it attractive to return to the United States.

With cheap energy and an abundance of workers versed in the accompanying digital revolution, the United States could reap more abundance. It would help, of course, if the administration in Washington encouraged free enterprise without turning it into crony capitalism. The United States wrote the book on industrialization, and it was this knowledge and practice that set off a long, sustained mid-century economic miracle in the years just after World War II.

The debate among the Republican contestants for president must focus like a laser on economic issues. Even the old social democratic states of northern Europe — including Denmark, oft-cited as Bernie Sanders’ welfare-state model — are at last turning to the rich rewards of competition and sometimes calling it “free enterprise,” a reluctant acknowledgment that “democratic socialism” doesn’t work much better than its bastard offspring, communism.

Several Republican contenders have, in fact, laid out elaborate economic plans, some realistic and some not so much, but in the long run attitude toward business will be more important than specificity born in the heat of a campaign. The new president’s attitude will dictate the legislation and policies to turn the economy around to move swiftly to growth and prosperity. The autocratic demands of Obamacare, which have cost jobs and limited expansion of small business, demonstrates the way not to go. That’s why the Chinese, who follow a unique kind of capitalism they call “communism” to save face, are coming to America.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide