measuring manufacturing competitiveness? Many point to the loss of two million jobs as an indicator of manufacturing decline. And whenever two million Americans lose their jobs, we are all very concerned. Yet we have to ask if total employment is the best gauge for the future. Technology is enabling increases in productivity and capital substitution for labor. Emerging technologies promise dramatic changes in the manufacture of many products. So as we assess our manufacturing strengths and challenges, let’s make sure we are counting the right things. Another question: Do our policies permit the evolution and responsiveness so critical to a market economy? America has succeeded by rewarding risk and permitting failure. This means that the manufacturing sector of tomorrow will be very different from that of yesterday or today. Do our policies protect the status quo or do they enable our manufacturers to lead the global changes that are inevitable? And are our manufacturers leveraging the best in new technologies to maintain leadership, especially with respect to new processes? Are we investing in the right research and development? Are our manufacturers able to understand and integrate these innovations to achieve competitive advantage?
We may not know the answers, but we certainly must not fear the questions. I know you will tackle these and many other issues. What we all do know and agree on is that manufacturing is—and will remain—vital to our economy and to our nation. And I’ll end on that note. Again, I look forward to your conclusions and recommendations. I thank you for allowing me to share a few of my thoughts with you. And I wish you all a productive conference.