I know very little about Super PACS (Political Action Committees) – most of what I’ve learned comes from watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But, I understand enough to know that they are designed to throw a whole lot money into campaigns that focus primarily on disparaging one’s political opponent in an election.
Given today’s economic conditions in this country, however, it doesn’t take being a financial genius or even a pundit to think that all this money – some $500 million in PAC money will go into this year’s presidential election alone -- can be spent in a better way.
In fact, I’d like to propose a new Super PAC, one that can save our country by solving what many believe is the single biggest threat to our democracy and economic future, the systematic destruction of the American manufacturing industry. We need a new age-style industrial revolution in order to bring America fully back to economic prominence. Let’s call it The Industrial Revolution 2.0.
Just imagine a Super PAC with the sole purpose of rebuilding our economy by taking those hundreds of millions of dollars and investing it instead into American ingenuity, industry, towns and communities.
This Super PAC – or BAC (Business Action Committee) – would have as one of its core principles the re-establishment of America as a quality brand and workforce. It would also promote this brand and our ingenuity on a mass level around the world and help us reclaim our dominance as the world’s economic super power.
We have the money, technology and desire within the American business community to get this done. In fact, to get the financial ball rolling, I would challenge to both the Democratic and Republican parties to immediately allocate 10% each of their PAC money for reinvestment into our economy. Just think of the headlines they would generate by investing in America rather than on spewing vitriolic rhetoric on their political opponents.
America’s economic reconstruction is predicated on recognizing that manufacturing is the backbone of any economy, particularly ours. But we lost our backbone believing that it is too expensive to manufacture products in this country when compared to making those same products much cheaper overseas. This notion is a virus that is literally sucking the life blood out of our society.
A case in point comes from a recent episode of the TV show “Shark Tank” in which a man from North Carolina invented a very creative and marketable truck accessory. His dream was to be able to manufacture his product in the North Carolina town he lives in with the sole purpose to put people in his community back to work.
Although a heartfelt and noble gesture, he instantly got his heart broken by the so-called "Sharks" who, one by one, explained very pointedly that in order to be able to compete at retail, and maintain the margins needed, he would have to bring his manufacturing costs down. The only way to do so, they asserted, would be to make his product overseas.
In this traditional school of thought, if you are the product owner and it costs you $1 to manufacture this product, your hopes are to sell it for a minimum of $2 to a retailer, (assuming you are eating the cost to distribute and market). The retailer then marks up the price to sell it to us, the consumers, for $3.99.
The economic reality, however, is that in order for American retailers to compete they are more likely to retail that product for $2.99, therefore driving the wholesale price down to only $1.25. In order to maintain your margin, you are forced to go overseas for your manufacturing needs, because – quality aside – labor, components, and other costs are supposedly lower than in the states. The result here is job loss, empty towns and buildings, and the spiraling down of our overall economy.
This just doesn’t have to be. Despite their incredible success and intelligence, those Sharks are escalating a myth that is simply not true. They all live within the current product lifecycle paradigm and therefore their advice appears to be sound and logical.
On the contrary, a recently aired ABC Nightly News segment called “Made in America” totally destroys their argument that it is too expensive to manufacture in the U.S. The news story analyzed how many products in an average American home were made in America and how many came from overseas, including the building materials used to make the home itself. The result was that approximately 95% of the home was made outside this country. Then, everything non-American made was pulled from the home and rebuilt using only American products. Lo and behold, the costs were the same if not slightly less expensive.
So now that the myth has been shattered, the time is ripe for the Super BAC to establish the new paradigm by investing in and maximizing American talent and ingenuity, harnessing the energies, resources, and human capital of business and industry, governments, colleges and universities, communities – and, of course, money – to make it easier to compete on a worldwide basis.
Imagine if that man from North Carolina would have had at his disposal a consortium of people, companies, investors, local and federal governments, college students and educators, a talented workforce and strategic partners all working together to lower his costs and thereby compete on price – while creating a quality product made in America. We already know that when it comes to quality – and that does matter – we make things better here than anywhere in the world.
The Super BAC’s main function will be to create a national movement to reconnect and enable the nation’s brightest and most creative minds with the most talented and hardest working workforce in the world. Funding would be allocated to promote businesses, towns, ideas and people on a global basis. Web platforms that enable collaboration and investment will be established, as will think tanks utilizing the experience and knowledge of some of the most successful industry titans to help solve issues and provide advice and counsel.
Colleges and universities will also be engaged for research, as well as incubator sites. Some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the last two decades have created their ideas when they were in college so we need to nurture this collaboration. Of particular note, such initiatives would have a profound impact in terms of stimulating jobs among newly-graduated college students. It’s a win-win for everyone.
The first step is simple. Rather than pouring $500 million-plus in PACs whose sole purpose is to create mechanisms to attack and disparage one’s political opponents, let’s allocate all that money to rally America and bring our country back to its rightful place as the world’s manufacturing and economic superpower.
In his new song “We Take Care of Our Own,” Bruce Springsteen not only brilliantly captures the heartfelt sentiments of our country at this moment in time, but he also points us in the right direction:
Where the eyes, the eyes with the will to see
Where the hearts, that run over with mercy
Where's the love that has not forsaken me
Where's the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where's the spirit that'll reign, reign over me
Where's the promise, from sea to shining sea
Where's the promise, from sea to shining sea
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
If Republicans and Democrats, if people of all political and ideological beliefs in this country are truly committed to creating jobs and jump-starting our economy, we can’t afford not to take care of our own.
Rick Korn is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in direct and database marketing, TV production and development, e-commerce, media and advertising. He is a former executive with Whittle Communications, HSN, and other media properties.