The Associated Press (AP) is a ginormous global news organization, and its reach is especially widespread here in the United States (although I couldn’t find figures breaking out its American clientele specifically). So it’s a big deal when one of its highest profile writers spreads the kind of utter claptrap about domestic U.S. manufacturing that Calvin Woodward just peddled in his new piece on President Trump’s views on the economy.
In an article posted today, Woodward portrayed Mr. Trump’s emphasis on industry (and other elements of his worldview) as nothing more than a pathetic and downright dangerous exercise in nostalgia for the “grunt work of old” that ignores how “Industry, technology and much of the culture are finding new ways of doing and living” and how “U.S. prosperity has been driven for decades by services, technology and new things….”
Some confidence in Woodward’s conclusions might be justified if he relied on manufacturing specialists or even economists to support them. But the authorities he cites are a “professor of communications” and a psychologist who “studies nostalgia from Britain’s University of Southampton.”
Not that economists have been killing it in recent decades in properly evaluating the importance of manufacturing. But if Woodward had bothered to consult one, the odds would have been higher that he’d have encountered the idea that industry is kind of important for any country seeking to build or maintain a world-class military. Or” that it’s historically been the U.S. economy’s leader in productivity growth (although as RealityChek regulars know, it’s recently been losing its mojo on that score). Or that it boasts one of the nation’s biggest employment multipliers – meaning that the creation of each American manufacturing job generates an outsized number of jobs elsewhere in the economy compared with employment increases in most other sectors. Or that manufacturing accounts for the lion’s share of American business research and development spending.
That last fact is especially important for Woodward and others of his ilk to know. For it makes clear that if the United States is to keep generating the “technology and new things” that of course are central to its hopes for continued (much less greater) prosperity, it has better keep its manufacturing base world class.
I’ll leave it to you to judge whether Woodward’s article qualifies as Fake News. But there can’t be any legitimate doubt that it’s manufactured nonsense.