Apple’s phones, like far too many other products we all buy every day, are made in China. One reason the phones are made there, according to the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in his self-titled book by Walter Isaacson, was a lack of trained engineers in the United States. Jobs said Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China, which required 30,000 engineers on-site to support those workers. “You can’t find that many in America to hire,” he said in the book. “If you could educate these engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here.”
Jobs stressed the engineers didn’t need to be Ph.D.s or geniuses, rather they simply needed to have engineering skills for manufacturing. Those people could be educated in trade schools, vocational/technical schools and community colleges. At a time when our country is desperately seeking jobs, Steve Jobs told President Obama that foreign students who earn engineering degrees here should be given a visa to stay in the country and work. Whether we agree with part of Jobs’ argument or the entire thing, it is clear the U.S. needs more emphasis on vocational education and desperately needs to find a way to bring manufacturing jobs back to America.
Two men are vying for the presidency, and these issues should be policymaking priorities for them. The public should tune in to the coming presidential debates to see and hear for themselves the vision each candidate has for our country and see which one comes the closest to focusing on the goals that matter most to each of us. We should demand specifics, too. Saying jobs and the economy are a priority without a plan to show how they’ll bring those jobs back is just hyperbole.
The first of three 90-minute presidential debates begins 8 p.m. Wednesday. It will focus on domestic issues. The subsequent two debates — planned for Oct. 16 and Oct. 22 — will be on domestic and foreign policy and then exclusively foreign policy. The debates will be broadcast live on many cable and network channels as well as being streamed live online — www.2012presidentialelectionsnews.com — and, of course, will be followed with analyses in newspapers. (Since the Oct. 16 debate conflicts with Franklin County’s own candidate forum 7 p.m. at Ottawa Middle School, that might be a good night to set the DVR to watch the tussle after learning about local candidates.) The vice presidential candidates will have their opportunity to debate, too — Oct. 11.
Most Americans are more than ready for the U.S. economy to be strengthened. Steve Jobs was infuriated by the way politics led to paralysis. Choosing a presidential candidate with the vision to help us move from paralysis to mobility is a proactive decision for our own benefit.
— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher