MetalMiner is pleased to welcome Dan DiMicco, CEO of Nucor Corporation in the first contribution of what we hope will be many op-ed pieces over the coming months. Mr. DiMicco has served as Nucor’s President and Chief Executive Officer since September of 2000. In addition, Mr. DiMicco has been re-appointed to serve on the United States Manufacturing Council which works with the Federal Government and the US manufacturing sector.
America is known as the Land of Opportunity. However, for the 26 million Americans currently unemployed or underemployed, the Land of Opportunity seems like an illusion. This is the worst economy since the Great Depression. However, the response from our political leaders has fallen far short of what is needed to overcome this crisis.
Many economists have noted the parallels between our current economic and political environment and that of the late 1930s persistently high unemployment, inadequate economic stimulus by the government and a lack of public and political support to do more. World War II provided the impetus necessary to make the serious investments this country needed. Those investments not only ended the Great Depression; they laid the foundation that built the American middle class and the greatest period of prosperity any country has ever experienced.
We need a similar public-private partnership now in order to restart our economy and lay a new foundation for the next generation of American prosperity. Our political leaders do not seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation. Policies enacted to date have been the equivalent of bringing a garden hose to a five-alarm fire. We are at a crossroads. Investments we make now (or fail to make) will determine America’s economic future for the next fifty years.
We are falling dangerously behind our economic competitors. The United Nations just released a report showing the top countries for foreign investment. For a long time, the U.S. held the top spot for foreign direct investment by multinational companies. Now, we are fourth behind China, India and Brazil.
We need to create 25 million jobs over the next five years to put Americans back to work and ensure a strong economic future. This will take bold measures and a comprehensive economic plan by the public and private sectors. There are several steps policymakers can take to reignite our economy and create future prosperity.
Enforce global trade agreements. Our trading partners need to be held accountable for the rules of global trade they have agreed to abide by in order to access our markets. Illegal subsidies and currency manipulation by countries like China must end.
Develop our domestic energy resources. By expanding domestic energy production, both traditional and renewable resources, we will diversify our energy supply. This will increase our nation’s competitiveness and energy security, as well as generate tax revenue for additional investments.
Implement a national manufacturing strategy. America must be a nation that builds things again. True, sustainable wealth can only be created by producing goods. We need to grow our manufacturing base so that it accounts for 20 percent of our gross domestic product. Our economic competitors have manufacturing strategies. America needs one.
Invest in our infrastructure to ensure future economic competitiveness. Infrastructure built 50 years ago that fueled America’s economic growth in the second half of the last century is crumbling. The American Society of Engineers has stated we need to spend $2.2 trillion over the next five years to replace our aging infrastructure. Only 12 percent of our stimulus bill was spent on infrastructure. By comparison, China spent 80 percent of its stimulus on infrastructure.
America did not become the Land of Opportunity through inaction. Bold vision and strong leadership resulted in policy decisions and investments that benefited generations of Americans. Today, America needs that kind of leadership. Our political leaders need to rise to the occasion, and we need to demand that they do.
Disclaimer: Nucor Corporation is a paid sponsor of MetalMiner.