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Manufacturing's representative.

The following is excerpted from the WESTEC keynote address by Congressman Don Ritter (R-PA), chairman of the House Republican Task Force on High Technology & Competitiveness and the only professional engineer in Congress.

You have a friend in Congress, one who believes in his heart that manufacturing matters, and one who will always strive to be part of the solution to manufacturing's needs. America must live by one basic principle: If we do not produce well, we will not live well.

Economic power is replacing, military power as the real global power. The threat to America's competitiveness is global. It is from Japan and the new "Japans" in Asia. It is from the European Economic Community when it becomes a single integrated market in 1992.

To promote the growth of America's technology base, we must take our basic knowledge of science and turn it into products that people want to buy. We must do this more efficiently, less expensively, faster, and better than our competitors. We must have a national commitment and specific actions by the federal government to remove barriers to innovation and add incentives for our companies to get back in critical marketplaces.

Simple protection isn't the answer-propping up inefficient industries while the rest of the world passes us by. The American consumer and our standard of living would be the big losers.

Instead, Representative Tom Campbell (R-CA) and I have put together a Competitiveness Package with initiatives for prosperity in our two valleys-Silicon Valley and the Lehigh Valley-and for all of America's technology-based industries. It is part of an agenda that responds to manufacturing's future needs: Cooperation. Two of its key goals are cultivating a new economic citizenship and blending cooperation with individualism. To do this, we must promote Quality with a capital Q" as a way of work and a way of life. Quality is a whole new management and work philosophy, based ultimately on common sense and individual workers fulfilling their potential as members of a team. It emphasizes people as more important than machines, and gives them real power to use technology to its fullest-the revolutionary idea of workers becoming more their own managers, and technology expanding their power. Education reform. We must also reform the education system to improve the climate for educational motivation and advance the scientific and cultural literacy of our people. The American education system isn't preparing our young people for the quality workplace of the year 2000. The problem is pervasive, and lies mainly in the pre-college, secondary, and public school systems.

Tax reform. Another goal is to provide for the future by reforming the tax code to encourage more long-term thinking by American businesses by allowing our system to yield more "patient capital." There are no real tax or investment benefits to putting out large amounts of cash to create returns over a 10- or 20-yr period. One of our proposals is increasing the deductibility of net capital losses for qualified manufacturers to $200,000/yr. Another is a 50-percent exclusion of capital gains from initial stock offerings. Redirected R&D. We must set priorities for spending our vast pool of federal R&D resources (soon to become a 100-billion question) more toward the demands of the global economy. We must find ways to encourage R&D investment in those processes and products upon which future US competitiveness depends.

Reduced litigation. We must reduce the crushing burden of litigation that stifles technological advances and is a boon to our foreign competitors. It is estimated that litigation taxes America's economy $250 billion each year. Among our goals here is abolishing the concept of joint and several liability, tightening standards for punitive damages, and promoting alternative dispute resolutions so that not every case goes to court. Reduced antitrust. And we must encourage our businesses to work together, cooperate when they need to do so, when no one firm has the resources to bring an important new product to market. None of our competitors faces the same restrictive antitrust laws hampering codevelo ment.
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Title Annotation:excerpt from Don Ritter's WESTEC address
Publication:Tooling & Production
Article Type:transcript
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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