Small government is good; Really small government is better

October 1, 2009
By: Tim Heston

I'm not so naive that I believe The FABRICATOR is the only magazine metal fabricators read. If The FABRICATOR is the only one you read, than I applaud you for it and urge you to swing by our booth (No. 7034) at FABTECH International so I can give you a hug.

Because we do have competitors seeking to be the main source of metal fabricating technology information, I try to keep up with those publications. I check out the editorials and their feature subjects to find out how they entice their readers to spend a part of their busy day reading the publications.

One competitor recently redesigned the magazine and let the editor have almost two pages of editorial space. Could an editor really have that much to say? You bet your ironworker he does.

Since the redesign earlier this year, he's blasted health care reform and potential cap and trade legislation in multipart series of editorials. In subsequent issues, readers' letters indicate that they love the editorializing. Big government doesn't have much of a fan with the manufacturing community.

But buried in one of the editorials bemoaning bloated bureaucracy, the editor makes the statement that government spending for national defense and infrastructure is OK. That was actually one sentence buried amidst a landslide of loquaciousness. (I'd point out the editorial, but I don't want to send any traffic that way. If you want to know, shoot me an e-mail at

I will say that the editor's support of military spending makes complete sense because many metal fabricators are benefiting from it. Check out what the U.S. spent in 2008 to support its military efforts. That $711 billion figure is almost half of what the entire world spent on military operations and weapons. That's a lot of metal products.

Look at Oshkosh Corp. in Wisconsin. This company has hauled in more than $2 billion worth of Pentagon orders to fabricate different military vehicles and rehab others to support the current war effort. I know of at least three job shops in northern Wisconsin that will benefit from being a part of Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain. These are bound to be happy days in the Dairy State even if Aaron Rodgers and his Packer brethren are unable to slay the upstart Bears and the Judas-led Vikings.

If you know anything about recent trends in metal fabricating technology, you know that machine tool builders have talked up their cutting equipment as being perfectly suited for cutting plate. Well, a lot of the plate they knew fabricators wanted to cut was for military vehicles.

And it doesn't end there. In the aerospace world, you've got thousands of jobs and millions of dollars tied up in air tankers and fighter jets. Let's not forget the shipyards that totally rely on replacing the U.S. Navy's ships. And there are vehicles that just defy explanation. (Knight & Carver of National City, Calif., built that boat for those who are interested.) So all government spending is not evil, at least depending on your point of view. I'm happy that some in manufacturing are being stimulated with government funds even if they aren't official "stimulus" dollars.

In the end, however, the excessive spending all falls to the same bottom line. I like the idea of small government as well, and that means all aspects of government, not just the easy targets.

Tim Heston

Tim Heston

Senior Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-381-1314