Manufacturing And Outsourcing — What Were We Thinking?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
I’m reading a a review of“€œCapitalism: A Love Story” at naked capitalism, and came across this,

“I grew up in small towns dominated by manufacturing plants, and I remember that they were prosperous, optimistic, and stable. People who had good jobs at the local mill were not the top of the social order; that was reserved for businessmen and successful professionals, like doctors and lawyers. But they could afford decent homes, creature comforts, vacations, and send their kids to college (not the fanciest, often a state school unless they got a scholarship, but their children could nevertheless hope to do better than their parents). But that had started fading by the 1970s as America’s economic dominance started to slip. Moore clearly is pained at the loss of the America that was (while pointing out it depended on the special circumstances of our post World War II political and manufacturing dominance) and our naivete in trusting in an economic model that has been been turned against the common man.”

Remind me, why did we think it was a good idea to stop manufacturing things in America? Why did we outsource the jobs? Why doesn’t our government have an industrial policy — a plan to keep us economically strong?
Looking back at the past few decades I’m not really clear on this. I feel like we are waking up from that scene in Moore’s movie where the hypnotists are mesmerizing their victims, looking around at the economic devastation that is the aftermath of decades of conservative economic rule and wondering, What were we thinking?