Here, there's no need for any politician to waterboard companies with the green Kool-Aid. The hottest item at this year's show is Airbus' A320 NEO, a "green" plane that netted a record 730 orders for a total of $72.2 billion. If America's Boeing hopes to compete and move beyond its $22 billion in orders, it'll have to catch up and produce something similar. The NEO's big attraction is that it's 15 percent more fuel-efficient than a classic A320. With fuel costs representing one-third of airline expenses, no government official has to legislate this plane into existence.
From free-market success also comes employment explosion. Among the 2,100 exhibitors, nearly all those with whom I spoke said they were hiring. Specifically, they're in desperate need of workers with technical skills -- engineers, builders, producers -- and they couldn't find enough people to fill these positions. Several were recruiting on-site.
These are highly skilled jobs you can't fake. The negative consequences of faking one's abilities in manufacturing a plane or defense system should be obvious. It's therefore highly unlikely that jobs in this field will be snapped up by some hombre fresh off of jumping the southern border. They're mostly globalization-proof.
So where are all our workers in this field? This is the West's top-tier manufacturing base, in which democracies are outperforming oppressive regimes such as China and Russia. Malaysia's AirAsia, for example, bought $18.2 billion worth of Airbuses, not a Chinese or Russian brand. This is the playing field on which we are beating our ideological enemy.
The fact that companies can't fill these jobs suggests a serious systemic problem in Western society: economic deindustrialization. According to the American Prospect, manufacturing represented only 11.5 percent of America's economic output in 2008, compared with 28 percent in 1959.