Dan DiMicco is a former CEO of Nucor, the largest and most profitable U.S. steel company. In 2010, the Harvard Business Review named him to its list of the 100 best-performing CEOs. He's also a former Dept. of Commerce advisor.
DiMicco says the U.S. needs to create 30 million jobs by 2025 "in order to close the federal government's budget deficit and begin reducing the nation's unfunded entitlement liabilities." He believes the jobs crisis should be the number-one national priority. He says lasting wealth "comes from innovating, making, and building things" and that the needed jobs can't come from the low-paying service industries or bubble-prone "phony wealth creation models."
By taking steps to revitalize and create industries that actually produce goods, we would guarantee a growing and successful middle class. DiMicco laments "30 years of slipshod economics" and "20 years of failed, unbalanced trade policies." He says government must work with industry, not against it.
In order to regain our edge as a nation that builds things, our leaders must take decisive steps to guarantee a level playing field. They must insist that nations such as China stop "unfairly depreciating their currencies against our dollar, making their goods artificially cheaper to import and ours more expensive to export." This has been done before, by Ronald Reagan's Plaza Accord in 1985.
Our leaders must also insist that countries where governments own industries, such as China, "stop ripping off American products and pirating our software, movies, and music."
DiMicco is encouraged by some businesses choosing to return to America, after realizing that China cheats. He says, "The Chinese have not behaved honorably, and communist governments are not our friends. Behind the welcoming facade of tax breaks and incentives, we've seen widespread cases of corruption, bribery, and blackmail."
Most companies that fled the U.S. did so because of misguided U.S. policies. They sought cheaper labor and fewer regulations abroad.
DiMicco says visionary leadership is needed. He also says it's important that Americans not give in to defeatism and instead remain optimistic, recognizing it isn't too late to save our nation. He offers recovery suggestions that include streamlining permit processes; tapping all our gas and oil resources; and greatly increasing infrastructure development to improve highways, ports, air traffic control systems, and even broadband. Another solution is to tell the WTO "that we will take action to stop anything that is not consistent with rules-based free trade."
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, 246 pp., $27.00)