America Makes More Stuff Now than Ever Before

Don Boudreaux is one of my favorite writers of Letters to Editors. This is a variation on that theme - an open letter to Rush Limbaugh - and it contains information that runs counter to many common assumptions about US manufacturing output:
  • In 2009 (the latest year for which we have data), the value of U.S. manufacturing output was nearly 30 percent higher than that of China, the world’s second-ranking country in terms of manufactured output
  • The inflation-adjusted value of America’s manufacturing output in 2009 was 120 percent higher than it was in 1970
  • Over the ten-year span 2000 through 2009, the total amount of foreign direct investment received by China was $686 billion, while the total amount of FDI received by America was 162 percent higher at $1,799 billion
Granted, the "raw number of things" that we make may be lower now than it has been at points in the past, and granted the "kinds of things" are different.  But, it's worth noting that we're still the world's leading manufacturer by a decent margin.