Archive for June, 2013

American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act Would Develop National Manufacturing Strategy

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

On June 20, 2013, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL-) introduced H.R. 2447, “The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2013,”a bill that would bring together the private and public sectors to develop recommendations to revitalize American manufacturing and create good-paying, middle-class jobs here at home.” U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) is the lead Republican cosponsor.

This bill is a pillar of the “Make It in America” jobs plan in the House and would require the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Technology to develop a national manufacturing competitiveness strategic plan that would be updated every four years. The goals of the strategic plan would be to promote growth of the manufacturing sector, support the development of a skilled manufacturing workforce, enable innovation and investment in domestic manufacturing, and support national security.

In order to develop a manufacturing strategy, the bill would also require the Committee to conduct an analysis of factors that impact the competitiveness and growth of the United States manufacturing sector, such as “the adequacy of the industrial base for maintaining national security,” “Trade, trade enforcement, and intellectual property policies, and financing, investment, and taxation policies and practices…”

The Secretary of Commerce, or a designee of the Secretary shall serve as the chairperson of the Committee, and the Committee would be required to transmit the strategic plan developed to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives not later than one year after the date of enactment of the Act.

I laud Rep. Lipinski for being so persistent in attempting to get a bill passed that would develop a national manufacturing strategy. Last year, he and Rep. Kinzinger introduced “The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2012” (HR-5865). The bill passed the House on September 12, 2012, by a roll call vote of 339-77. However, the Senate did not act on the bill.

H. R. 5865 was actually a renaming of H.R. 1366, “The National Manufacturing Strategy Act of 2011,” that Rep Lipinski also introduced, which died in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Senators Brown and Kirk had introduced the Senate version of this bill in 2011, but it was never voted on by the Senate. Rep Lipinski had previously introduced H.R. 4692, “The National Manufacturing Strategy Act of 2010,” which passed the House in July 2010 with overwhelming bi-partisan support. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced the same bill in the Senate, but it was not voted on by the Senate.

Let us hope this new bill not only passes the House this year, but actually gets voted on and passed by the Senate. This new bill is far superior to last year’s bill in that it would utilize an existing committee rather than set up a new committee with a complex appointment structure for the proposed 15-member committee. It builds on the successful development of the 2012 National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing and utilizes the expertise and knowledge that was developed in that plan. It would be accomplished with less cost and be consistent with prior Administration work and legal authority. By using the existing committee of the NSTC, the strategy will bring together the many agencies and their expertise that interact with American manufacturing.

“American companies and their workers are operating at a severe disadvantage as they face foreign competitors who benefit from coordinated, strategic government policies that benefit manufacturing,” Rep. Lipinski said. “We need to recognize this reality and bring the public and private sectors together to develop a national manufacturing strategy that specifies recommendations for the optimal tax, trade, research, regulatory, and innovation policies that will enable American manufacturing to thrive. Manufacturing is critical for national security, an essential source of good-paying jobs for the middle class, and drives high-tech innovation.”

“Manufacturing is vital to our economic and national security, and it is critical that we do all we can to promote American competitiveness in the global economy,” Rep. Kinzinger said. “I’m proud to work with Congressman Lipinski to put forward bipartisan legislation that focuses our attention on the challenges facing American manufacturers.”

America has a long and proud manufacturing history. Manufacturing is the foundation of our economy and fostered the development and growth of the middle class in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since the 1970s, however, the number of manufacturing jobs has shrunk, from 20 million in 1979 to fewer than 12 million today. We lost 5.8 million manufacturing jobs just since 2000. The recent recession hit workers in manufacturing especially hard. The hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs has contributed to the stagnation of middle-class wages – since 2000, the median household income, after it’s been adjusted for inflation, has fallen by $4,787.

In a press release dated June 21st, Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said, “We commend Congressmen Lipinski and Kinzinger for their authorship of the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2013. Our nation’s manufacturers and their workers stand poised for a manufacturing resurgence, but Washington must do its part by implementing a strategy that actively responds to the challenges of the 21st Century.”

The Alliance for American Manufacturing recommends that “a national manufacturing strategy support private business by focusing government programs on increasing national competitiveness, reducing programmatic inefficiencies and redundancy, and coordinating policies across various agencies and departments.” This type of strategy would require the American government to act smarter in its efforts to promote growth, entrepreneurship, and innovation. AAM recommends that a national manufacturing strategy should:

  • Keep our Trade Laws Strong and Strictly Enforced
  • Combat Currency Manipulation
  • Reduce the Trade Deficit
  • Support Buy America
  • Defend America with American Made Product
  • Prepare for the Next Super Storm
  • Invest in American Infrastructure
  • Create New Ways to Invest in America.
  • Use the Tax Code to Incentivize Domestic Manufacturing
  • Educate Americans for Quality Jobs
  • Invest in Energy Efficiency

The Alliance for American Manufacturing is just one of many organizations that have made recommendations on a national manufacturing strategy. In my book, Can American Manufacturing Be Saved? Why we should and how we can, the chapter on “How Can We Save American Manufacturing?” contains a summary of the recommendations of such organizations as the American Jobs Alliance, Coalition for a Prosperous America, Economy in Crisis, National Association of Manufacturers, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, and the U. S. Business and Industry Council, along with my own recommendations.

In April 2011, The Information Technology& Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a report, “The Case for a National Manufacturing Strategy,” that makes a strong case for such a strategy. Authors Stephen Ezell and Robert Atkinson recognize that “most U.S. manufacturers, small or large, cannot thrive solely on their own; they need to operate in an environment grounded in smart economic and innovation-supporting policies with regard to taxes, talent, trade, technological development, and physical and digital infrastructures.”

Ezell and Atkinson recommend adoption of the following actions as part of the national strategy:

  • Increase public investment in R&D in general and industrially relevant in particular
  • Support public-private partnerships that facilitate the transition of emerging technologies from universities and federal laboratories into commercial products
  • Coordinate state, local, and federal programs in technology-based economic development to maximize their combined impact
  • Provide export assistance to build upon the National Export Initiative, which seeks to double U. S. exports by 2015.
  • Increase export support for U. S. manufacturers through the Export-Import Bank loans

In the past eight years since the National Summit on Competitiveness in 2005, there has been a summit or conference held every year on the topic of revitalizing American manufacturing. A first Conference for the Renaissance of American Manufacturing was held in September 2010, and a second Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing: Jobs and Trade was held on March 27, 2012. This conference focused on solutions to the decline of manufacturing in America and highlighted manufacturing and trade issues.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report, “Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing,” in July 2012, prepared by the Advance Manufacturing Partnership Working Group, which makes 16 specific recommendations for policies to enable the United States to resume its leadership in the manufacturing industry and strengthen our position in advanced manufacturing technologies.

We need a committee that will review the many recommendations on a national manufacturing strategy we already have and select the ones that will have the most impact in enabling the United States to have a real renaissance in the manufacturing industry. Since a similar bill has passed the House two out of three times since 2010, it is time for the Senate to pass this legislation and “stop fiddling while Rome burns.” We need real leadership in action, not just words. Contact your Congressional representative to ask them to cosponsor the bill and urge your Senator to bring it to a vote in the Senate after it passes the House.

Innovative Products Featured at Annual San Diego Inventors Forum Contest

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

On June 13, 2013, over 100 people gathered at the conference center of AMN Healthcare for the annual inventors contest of the San Diego Inventors Forum demonstrating that innovation is alive and well in the U. S. Ten contestants were selected out of 28 applicants to present their latest inventions for the audience to pick the top three inventions. The products ranged from those that make cooking in the kitchen easy to items to make smart phones more functional and easy-to-use products that provide portable solar power and feed the world. Applicants were limited to those that had attended the Inventors Forum three or more times in the past year and had an invention that was either already patented or was “patent pending” in addition to having a  working model or being ready for sale to the marketplace.
Adrian Pelkus won the first place prize of $1,000 for his patented O2MislyTM CWT, Chronic Wound Treatment System, which uses Vaporous Hyperoxia Therapy, oxygen infused with a vapor to deliver an anti-microbial to the affected area. Diabetic foot ulcers, bedsores, and other wounds that have not healed in as long as several years are being healed in weeks. In clinical trials, nearly every patient showed 50% wound reduction in two weeks. Treatment is now available on a private pay basis in San Diego, but will be expanded nationwide in the future. For further information, email Adrian at

Phyllis Davis won the second place prize of $500 for the patent pending Portable Farms™ Aquaponics Systems’ Modular Aquaponics Systems. Aquaponics University (AU) was created to teach individuals the skills, procedures and techniques for used for growing chemical-free food and fish in a system with minimal use of power, water and labor. Aquaponics University (AU) offers the Portable Farms™ Aquaponics System Course© that teaches individuals how to grow chemical-free food and fish in a closed-loop system. After completing the course, participants will receive one Portable Farms Kit to be able to build their own Portable Farms™ Aquaponics System that feeds up to eight people forever. For further information, contact Phyllis at

Jon Doogan won the $250 third place prize for the Aculief Wearable Acupressure that was launched at the Natural Products Expo West in March 2013. Aculief is a patented wearable acupressure device for active lifestyles, designed for anyone suffering from tension, health imbalance or discomfort. Aculief applies pressure to the LI4 acupressure point, located between the thumb and forefinger. The LI4 has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to relieve tension and to promote your body’s natural flow of energy. Aculief is currently available through their online store,, or in Pharmaca’s 24 retail locations throughout the US.

Other presenters (in no particular order) were:
William Benn for his patented SunLight Harvester ? a mobile, renewable energy solar electric generator and power storage system. It is designed for southwest Sunbelt residents living in the reduced living space of townhomes and condominiums with patios, duplexes, with small backyards, and homes without a south facing roof that want an affordable, clean, and environmentally friendly renewable energy source of electricity. For further information, contact Ben at

Randall J. Kendis for his patent pending iPhone Hat Cradle ?  a removable cradle to hold an iPhone or other Smartphone on a hat with a brim to provide a platform for hands-free, real-time video transmission and recording without hindering free movement and mobility. The cradle can be quickly switched from one hat to another. For further information, contact Randall at

Sia Malek for his patent pending Window Blind Remote Control ? a simple battery-operated device that will turn your current horizontal or vertical window blinds into a remote controlled system. It takes only a couple of minutes to install and can be maintained and relocated easily. For further information, contact Sia at

Judith Balian for her patented system to promote positive thinking. The system acts as a gentle personal trainer to help people become aware of their thoughts and to use the law of attraction to their advantage. While many people know about the power of using affirmations and intentions, few are able to control their wandering minds to harness the greatest potential of this natural law. This system helps users develop the habit of positive thinking to create what they want in live. For further information, contact Judith at

George Octavio Flint for his patent pending Uni-Mattress ? three air mattresses in one ? twin, full, and queen so you can fit the right sized mattress into your available space. For further information, contact George at

Joshua D. Mackenroth for his Gravity±Seat ? is a revolutionary new bicycle suspension seat post that provides greater control and better handling for a faster, smoother ride.  The radical design is far superior to any of the off-road suspension seat posts in the market today. It is also the first suspension seat post in the world intended for the road bike market as well. Gravity±Seat is true crossover technology that lowers the center of gravity for road bikes and increases the amount of usable suspension travel for off-road bikes. The patented reverse angle design allows the seat to travel downward to lower the center of gravity while the damping shock absorbs sharp impacts. This gives riders the ability to drop down and back toward the rear of the bicycle through rough sections and steep down hills rather than being thrown over the handlebars. The end result is better handling, better traction, faster cornering, and a smoother ride. For further information, contact Joshua at
Gene McGuinness for his Wave – Fat-Free Cooking aids designed to form and cook taco shells, tortilla chips and bowls without any fat, oil, or grease in your own microwave. For further information, contact Gene at

If you are ready to turn that idea into a product, let us help you get started at the San Diego Inventors Forum. You will get motivated by hearing successful local San Diego inventors speak how they developed their marketable products. You will be able to network with fellow creative people and get guidance and encouragement to take your first or next steps necessary to turn your ideas into a reality. You will have the opportunity to meet “mentor” inventors and professionals in many fields. First-time attendees are invited to introduce themselves and briefly describe their idea/invention. At the end of the meeting, the “who needs who” period  provides the opportunity to express a need for help with such issues business structure, licensing, marketing, funding, legal and engineering questions.

We members of the SDIF steering committee invite all innovators, inventors, engineers, artists and start-up entrepreneurs to attend our monthly meetings, held the second Thursday of the month from 6:30pm to 7pm for networking and 7pm to 8:30pm for the meeting at the conference center of AMN Healthcare in San Diego.

Now that the annual contest is over, the 2013-2014 topics schedule begins again in August. August’s topic will be “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” – harnessing your creative mind, and September will continue with “IP 101” – when, why and how to search for patents, trademarks and copyrights. During the course of the year, topics covered include marketing, licensing, branding, networking, and funding. I will be giving my annual presentation in the fall on “Manufacturing 101” – how to select the right manufacturing processes and sources to make your product. For further information, the San Diego Inventors Forum can be reached at or by calling Forum president Adrian Pelkus at 760-591-9608.


Is India a Better Place for Manufacturing than China?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

You would think that because India was formerly part of the British Empire and became an independent democracy, there would be less pollution and better working conditions than in China. Well, you would be wrong.

You wouldn’t find it any healthier to live in many of the industrial cities of India than the industrial cities in China. India is developing more slowly, but its growth is already taking a toll on the health of its people. India’s population has more than tripled since independence in 1947, from 350 million people to 1.2 billion, severely straining the country’s environment, infrastructure, and natural resources.

In my last article, I mentioned that four cities in India were listed in the Blacksmith Institute’s “Dirty 30” of the 2007 report, “The World’s Worst Polluted Places.” Consider Vapi, at the southern end of India’s “Golden Corridor,” a 400 km belt of industrial estates in the state of Gujarat. There are more than 50 industrial estates in the region, containing over 1,000 industries and extending over more than 1,000 acres. Many estates are chemical manufacturing centers, producing petrochemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, textiles, dyes, fertilizers, leather products, paint, and chlor-alkali. Waste products discharged from these industries contain heavy metals (copper, chromium, cadmium, zinc, nickel, lead, and iron), cyanides, pesticides, aromatic compounds like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and other toxins.

The Indian Medical Association reports that most local drinking water is contaminated because of the absence of a proper system for disposing of industrial waste. Industrial waste instead drains directly into the Damaganga and Kolak rivers. Vapi’s groundwater has levels of mercury 96 times higher than World Health Organization standards. Approximately 71,000 people have no choice but to drink contaminated well water, as clean water sources are more than a mile away. The water is so discolored by contaminants it looks like a bottle of orange soda. Local produce contains heavy metals up to 60 times the safe standard. There is a high incidence of respiratory diseases, chemical dermatitis, and skin, lung, and throat cancers. Women in the area report high incidences of spontaneous abortions, abnormal fetuses, and infertility. Children’s ailments include respiratory and skin diseases and retarded growth.

It isn’t any better in Sukinda, in the state of Orissa, where 97 percent of India’s chromite ore deposits are located. Twelve mines operate without any environmental management plans, and more than 30 million tons of waste rock is spread over the surrounding area and the banks of the Brahmani River. The mines discharge untreated water directly into the river. Approximately 70 percent of the surface water, and 60 percent of the drinking water, contains hexavalent chromium at more than double national and international standards. The polluted Brahmani River is the only water source for 2,600,000 people. Health problems include gastrointestinal bleeding, tuberculosis, asthma, infertility, birth defects, and stillbirths.

The Indian economy is growing rapidly, but pollution is quickly spiraling out of control and rivers are dying by the dozens. Fully 80 percent of urban waste, including industrial waste, winds up in the country’s rivers. Much of this comes from untreated sewage. The Ganges River has levels of fecal coliform, a dangerous bacterium that comes from untreated sewage, 3,000 percent higher than what is considered safe for bathing. More than three billion liters of waste are pumped into Delhi’s Yamuna River each day. “The river is dead, it just has not been officially cremated,” said Sunita Narain, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, one of India’s top environmental watchdog groups, to in reference to the Yamuna.

Air pollution is also a growing problem. There are four main sources: vehicles, power plants, industry, and refineries. India’s air pollution is exacerbated by its heavy reliance on coal for power generation. Coal supplies more than half the country’s energy needs and nearly three-quarters of its electricity. Reliance on coal has led to a 900 percent increase in carbon emissions over the past 40 years. India’s coal plants are old and not outfitted with modern pollution controls. Also, Indian coal has a high ash content, which creates smog. Vehicle emissions are responsible for 70 percent of the country’s air pollution. Exhaust from vehicles has increased 800 percent, and industrial pollution 400 percent, in the past 20 years.

Although the Constitution of India guarantees free and compulsory education to children between the age of 6 to 14 and prohibits employment of children younger than 14 in any hazardous environment, child labour is rampant. According to an article, “The Hidden Factory: Child Labour in India,” in The South Asian, May 7, 2005, many consumer goods  are “the products of a hidden factory of countless children, many as young as five years old, toiling for tireless hours, under harsh, hazardous, exploitative, often life threatening conditions for extremely low wages.” The article states “India has the largest number of working children in the world.” Credible estimates range from 12 to 15 million child laborers. What is even more horrible is that a large percentage of these children are de facto slaves, bonded to their jobs, with no means of escape or freedom until they can repay their parents’ loans. The major industries using child labor are:

Carpets – An estimated 50,000 to 1,050,000 children, as young as six, are often chained to carpet looms in confined, dimly lit workshops, making the thousands of tiny wool knots that become expensive hand-knotted carpets for export. Recruiters or organized gangs pay landless peasants cash advances to “bond” their children to their jobs. The children suffer from spinal deformities, retarded growth, respiratory illnesses, and poor eyesight.

Brassware – An estimated 40,000 to 45,000 children, as young as six, are involved in brassware production, including jobs like removing molten metal from molds and furnaces, electroplating, polishing, and applying chemicals. If they survive being injured from molten metal and exposure to furnaces operating as high as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, they often suffer from tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases due to inhalation of fumes from the furnaces and metal dust.

Leather – As many as 25,000 children, from 10 to 15, are involved in the manufacture of shoes. They suffer from respiratory problems, lung diseases, and skin infections from continuous skin contact with industrial adhesives and breathing the vapors from glues.

Gemstones – Children are commonly engaged as “apprentices” in the gem polishing industry. The learning process takes five to seven years and they work an average of 10 hours a day. Major health issues include tuberculosis and respiratory diseases.

Glass – This industry employs an estimated 8,000 to 50,000 children as young as eight. They work in an inferno due to the intense heat of glass furnaces (1,400-1,600o C) and suffer from skin burns, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, mental retardation, and genetic cell damage.

Silk – An estimated 5,000 children, mostly girls from five to 16, are employed in silk manufacturing, which includes sericulture, dyeing, and weaving the silk. Chemicals and boiling water in the dyeing process are common health hazards; skin burns from the boiling water and respiratory diseases from the chemicals often result.

Agriculture –Parents pledge children as young as six to landlords as bonded laborers. The number of bonded laborers is not categorized by adults and children, but the total is estimated to range from 2.6 to 15 million. Children are involved in all types of agriculture and are completely controlled by their masters, receiving a bare minimum of food and lodging. More than 90 percent of bonded laborers in India, many of whom became bonded as children, never had the opportunity to go to school.

Mining – A 2006 report, “Our Mining Children,” prepared by a team of non-profit organizations, described the condition of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the mining industry.

Karnataka, for example, is a state with vast mineral resources, of which the Bellary district has the most extensive range. Minerals mined include iron ore, manganese, quartz, gold, copper, granite, and decorative stones. India is the fourth-largest iron-ore producer in the world. As a result of new government economic policies, a shift to privatization, an open market economy, and wide-open markets in China, South Korea, and Australia, mining companies have bought up thousands of acres of land in the district since 2000.

All of the mines visited by government teams had child laborers, some as young as five. It is estimated that as many as 200,000, or 50 percent, of the workers are children. The mining economy is only profitable because of large-scale child labor and the flouting of social and environmental laws. The mine owners say they only employ the adults, but as the families live at the mine site, the children join in the work. The parents force their children to work because they say they cannot survive otherwise.

As you can see, India is not any better than China for products to be made ? the pollution is just as bad, working conditions are as bad or worse, and child labor is rampant. Make the better choice ? Made in USA!