Does America want to be a manufacturing nation or not? If you ask James Harbour, a leading analyst and founder of The Harbour Report on auto productivity, the answer is clearly “no.” Decades of U.S. Congressional and Presidential economic policies have decimated not only auto manufacturing but other industries as well, he says. That’s because the cumulative effect of promoting imports of manufactured goods from countries that restrict access to their own markets crippled U.S. makers.
“How in the hell did Ford, Chrysler and General Motors go from the top of the heap to the bottom?” the plain-speaking Harbour asked members of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit today. He was promoting his just published book, Factory Man. In it he presents the views of an assembly line worker turned manufacturing executive for Chrysler and Ford, and then as government consultant and private entrepreneur, starting in the post-war boom years and continuing up to today. Harbour co-authored this conversational book with James Higgins, an award-winning automotive reporter, columnist and editor, who covered the industry at The Detroit News.
After 60 years getting his “hands dirty” on auto and pharmaceutical production lines, Harbour is in no mood for Washington posturing during discussions about car company restructurings. “The folks there think a machine is something to rig an election,” he says.