Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Should Government Put the Manufacturing Sector on a Wartime Footing?

During WWII America mobilized the country's industrial base and put it into armaments production. Automobile manufacturers switched rapidly to churning out tanks by the thousands and car plants built giant four-engine bombers.

Today we need a new weapon for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. There's an urgent need for ventilators, respirators and other equipment to keep patients alive and protect healthcare workers.

Louis Vuitton set the example when it chose to transform its plants from the production of high-end fragrances and cosmetics into production of hand sanitizer that it is distributing free of charge across France.

Surely there's enough industrial capacity in North America for our governments to switch the most suitable plants into production of essential medical equipment and supplies, especially ventilators for those in intensive care.

So what's holding them up? Their prime duty is to protect the security and wellbeing of the public. It's about time they stepped up.


rumleyfips said...

You nailed it.


Anonymous said...


The Brits have put out plans/specs for a basic ventilator for quotes to UK manufacturers. Jaguar Land Rover, Honda and JCB are among the 60 manufacturers contacted to evaluate how they could might it fast and quick. Due to lack of electronic component manufacturing and availability, the design is likely analogue in the old sense. Nothing wrong with that because it's likely easier to operate for unskilled personnel.

In any case, with everything shut down and millions of gig and service indutry workers without jobs and income, it doesn't take much to envision a rather rapid descent into complete societal breakdown, unfortunately. Hope it doesn't become that crazy but the signs are not great.


The Disaffected Lib said...

I expect even Canada could do this if our government had the vision to pursue it. Except we don't have governments of vision and haven't for several decades.

lungta said...

i read
some company delivered a 3-d printer to an italian hospital out of respirators
developed a program
and they just began printing them

the salamander said...

.. Hell, I've been maintaining loudly for years.. Where is the irrigation tech and expertise ? What about other agricultural equipment and agricultural knowhow ? The mechanical stuff and expertise to grow things, to feed people.. instead of arm's manufacturing we could be feeding an overpopulated world and/or teaching people new ways to feed themselves or enhance their diet. Only an idiot would defund the Small Lakes Experimental Station.. what an astonishing insult to Canadians ! And to Science, to Biology.

We love things, aspects, intangibles that make Canadians feel together, feel and believe in with aw shucks quiet pride. So its the same with that valve story. What seems not fixable, someone finds a way. The wise leader seeks opportunities for their teammates to shine.. and this is a historic time for Prime Minister Trudeau. Like it or not, he's the dude that's got to make the tough decisions.. and what you've outlined seems obvious.. and the time is now to whip out your best tools.. muster all your assets.. and deploy them while backing and supporting them with everything you've got. I have no idea if we're in the heat of the disaster.. or if its just getting warmed up.. but there's no time like 'now' to get a finger in the dike !

Trailblazer said...

Whatever the means of production or source I can see the rationing of some products within the year.


e.a.f. said...

Canada just doesn't have much in the way of manufacturing these days. Most of it left the country beginning in the 1980s. the car manufacturing plants are owned by foreign corporations. They will simply walk away and when this is over, there won't be any of those jobs.

Everyone has been fine with overseas manufacturing and this is what happens. Every one has wanted the cheapest item.

Trudeau understands the people of this country better than most writing here. How many perfume companies the size of those in France do we have? could even the small companies in Canada afford to do what they are doing in France? Not so much. The distilleries could start making hand sanitizer, but what if they refuse? Does the PM need to start a war with these companies at this time. If they don't volunteer, there isn't much which can be done until people force the corporations to do what is "right". Some may argue the federal government has the lawful implements to do things, but if there is a back lash and the public sides with the corporations, it won't be pretty.

We have seen where Canadian's heads are at, by how they have cleaned out stores and left nothing for the next person. They don't care. One large grocery chain had one person come in, in the evening and purchase everything in the meat dept. EVERYTHING. Do not expect people to want to share. Hand sanitizer has been stripped from the shelves as has rubbing alcohol. Only one drug store in the Nanaimo area had a sign up, which said one bottle per customer, that was in Ladysmith.

Trudeau, in my opinion, has done a fairly decent job so far. he can not lead where people will not go. Always remember provincial governments and voters have always been fine with people on welfare living at 505 below the poverty line. Many object to the Child Benefits cheques which the Trudeau government has sent out each money to raise children out of poverty. They don't want to pay for it. So don't expect any body to do anything which isn't going to benefit them. Many politicians understand their voters. Getting ahead of them isn't going to work. Just as in B.C., not until the number of cases jumped by one hundred over a weekend would people have been willing to follow the directions of the Health Minister and provincial Chief Medical officers. As it was, in a unscientific t.v. new poll by CHEK news in Victoria, 7% felt the closing of the schools was premature and out not to have happened.

Most Canadians today do not even know about what it was like living through the depression or WW II. Some of the older baby boomers heard about it from our parents, but the rest have no idea.

rumleyfips said...

Now the medical device company that sells the valve wants to sue the guys who are 3d printing them for patent infringement. Pharma bro charges $11,000 and the samaritans do it for $1 .

So far 10 lives saved but no good deed goes unpunished .

lungta said...

found a site re: above post

The Disaffected Lib said...

e.a.f. - yes, we lost manufacturing jobs to low-wage markets as a consequence of neoliberal globalism and Trudeau, like his Tory counterparts is an acolyte of globalized trade. That said, manufacturing still represents 10% of the country's GDP. There's a good bit of high tech in that, including electronics. We would have ample capacity to churn out ventilators and other critical medical equipment if only the prime minister exercised his powers under the Emergencies Act.