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A platform for recovery.

If you could paraphrase a cliche to describe the situation we currently find ourselves in, it might be "Everybody talks about the economy, but nobody does anything about it." Well, Joe Arvin, for one, is trying.

Arvin is the president of Arrow Gear Co. in Downers Grove, Illinois, a company that until recently employed 230 people. Layoffs have reduced that number. Late in February, I received a letter from Arvin with a booklet attached titled, Our Economic Crisis. It was subtitled, A Comprehensive Look at the Factors Which Threaten Our Nation, and Clear Solutions to Avert Economic Disaster. Apparently, Arvin was frustrated enough to approach other mid-size gear companies like his and ask for a contribution to put his message in writing. They must have agreed with his ideas because together they kicked in some $10,000.

Essentially, Arvin identifies many of the root causes for the American economic dilemma. "Our crisis revolves around the concept of value-added revenue," he writes. "Simply stated, value-added revenue is derived primarily through the process of taking raw material and increasing its value through machines and labor. This process is the basis of manufacturing."

Nothing too profound here. Nothing except for the fact that too many people, our elected leaders included, do not seem to understand this most basic economic concept. As Arvin puts it, "We |can't~ expect improvement by being the world's insurance capital or the world's fast food giant. The decline of our industrial base was not a result of our economic decline. It was the cause."

Another mistake we are making, the gear manufacturer asserts, is in our focus on small, scattered, apparently positive indicators: "We cannot reverse the negative trends by addressing only the symptoms of a deeper cause. We must look at the big picture and avoid the narrow-minded thinking that our present problems are merely the result of the natural ebb and flow of economics. We have made serious mistakes by ignoring the big picture. Now, we must sit up and pay attention while we still have a chance."

So, what does Arvin think will turn around American manufacturing? Here are some of his ideas:

* Revise the government's philosophy on assisting business and follow the example of foreign governments and fully commit to assisting U.S. companies.

* Create tax-base incentives for investment in plants and equipment. But these incentives must only be available for investments that result in additional jobs and increased productivity.

* Defense procurement must not use initial low cost as a reason for selecting foreign suppliers over U.S. suppliers.

* Steps must be taken for cooperative development and transfer of innovative technology among U.S. companies and institutions.

* Efforts must be made to provide for training and research through an increase in cooperative programs or by increasing incentives to individual companies.

* Government must legislate reform in product liability.

* Both consumers and businesses in the U.S. must be made aware of the true implication of purchasing foreign products. They must realize that their actions directly add to the trade deficit and sacrifice American jobs.

Arvin proposes all of this with two qualifications. First, he insists that he is neither a protectionist nor an isolationist. He explains that "The global economy of the present and future requires that nations work together. This means not just free trade, but free and fair trade."

Secondly, he stresses that "U.S. companies cannot sit idly by and expect government to single-handedly save them from extinction. After all, government did not single-handedly create the problems which industry now faces. American businesses must revise their short-term philosophy regarding profitability, return on investment and growth strategies.

"In addition, companies must not expect government assistance to provide them with short-term profits. If the U.S. government is expected to assist domestic industry as foreign governments do, domestic industry must also adopt the long-range philosophies which foreign companies employ."

There's more to Arvin's story. If you're interested, you can get a complete copy for $1.50 by contacting Crystal Image Productions, 5240 S. Belmont Rd., Downers Grove, Illinois 60515.

The only problem I have with Arvin's ideas is that they make too much sense. I wonder if he would consider running for public office.
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Title Annotation:Joe Arvin's proposal for economic recovery
Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Words:699
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