Sand in the Gears


Sand in the Gears

How Public Policy Has Crippled American Manufacturing

Andrew O Smith

320 pages


February 2013


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

American manufacturing has been on the decline for at least two generations; that fact is plain to any observer who travels through the Rust Belt of the Midwest, where the closing of steel plants and automobile factories has created ghost towns that dot the landscape. It is also clear in the dormant New England textile mills, whose owners surrendered their production first to cheaper mills in the Southeast before they, in turn, lost out to Asian labor.What caused this calamity, and what can be done about it?

Andrew Smith argues that we lost our manufacturing not to forces beyond our control, such as globalization and cheaper labor overseas, but as the result of misguided policies that are well within our abilities to reform for the benefit of manufacturing. Examining six areas of public policy—the tax system, health care, the legal system, workers’ compensation, government regulations, and labor policy—Smith demonstrates that in each of these areas, the current policy choices have created a hostile environment for manufacturing. Grounding his arguments not in polemic or ideology but in historical analysis and current research, Smith illustrates his points with real-world examples to show how a “new social compact” can fix the problems that manufacturers face without sacrificing public policy goals.

Author Bio

ANDREW O. SMITH is a manufacturing executive and former consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton with a long-standing interest in economic policy. As chief operating officer of the Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corporation, one of the largest independent paint companies in the United States, he has firsthand experience running a diverse chemical manufacturing company. Smith earned an engineering degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and a finance degree from the Wharton School, both at the University of Pennsylvania. He also earned a JD and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.


"Sand in the Gears brilliantly captures how government policies have been destroying manufacturing jobs for more than three decades and makes a clear case for what people really need from their elected leaders. Andrew O. Smith’s proposals for a 'New Social Compact' are sweeping, audacious, and smart. This book should set the terms of debate for how to put America back to work."—Frank I. Luntz, political strategist and author of Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business from Ordinary to Extraordinary

"Andrew O. Smith provides an interesting new perspective on the decline of American manufacturing with compelling arguments and powerful suggestions for how to fix this important segment of our economy. A must read for anyone working to make our manufacturing sector stronger again and all who care about our great country."—Christopher M. Connor, chairman and CEO, Sherwin-Williams

"Sand in the Gears clearly explains the public policy challenges facing manufacturers—and how these challenges have held back manufacturing job growth over the past few decades. In this thought-provoking analysis, Andrew O. Smith underscores the critical need for policies that will help manufacturers create high-paying jobs and drive economic growth."—Jay Timmons, president and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers

"Tackling the timely and important question of how America can improve manufacturing competitiveness, Andrew O. Smith persuasively demonstrates that government policies have driven the decline in U.S. manufacturing. Sand in the Gears is not a diatribe against government regulations or welfare policy, but a thoughtful critique with creative proposals to energize manufacturing and achieve social policy objectives without strangling businesses or thwarting innovation."—Donald Sull, professor of management practice in strategy and entrepreneurship, London Business School, and author of The Upside of Turbulence: Seizing Opportunity in an Uncertain World