When IPC released a statement this week touting Congress’s recognition of the “vital role of the printed board industry in ensuring national security,” it brought a smile to my face.
Years ago – at least 15 – when I was just a staff flunky at IPC, we rejoiced when, after hundreds of thousands of dollars and who-knows how many man-hours of time, the US House passed a resolution recognizing printed wiring board manufacturers as an industry critical to the well being and security of the United States. This is an important first step, we convinced ourselves. Now, Congress will really get behind us, we cheered, hopefully.
A few years later, more or less the entire industry moved to China. Congress didn’t say a word.
You see, we also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help bring the Printed Circuit Investment Act of 1997, a bill that was to cut equipment depreciation from five years to three, to the floor, where it died a quick death.
In fact, Congress didn’t act until March 11, 2002, six months to the day after planes flew into buildings across the Eastern seaboard.
Are printed circuit boards vital to American security? No question. Does Congress really give a hoot? Probably not. After all, if they didn’t when the US was the leading PCB industry in the world, why would they now? After 15 years or so of trying, have we learned anything about how Congress works? By all evidence, no.
But we can dream.