Efficiency is Better for Business Than Protectionism

Probably without meaning to, Keith Johnson of The Wall Street Journal Environmental Capital blog has made a strong argument for how valuable a lean strategy can be in tough times.

Johnson wrote about the steel industry, noting a protectionist proposal from a U.S. Steel executive concerned about greenhouse gas legislation. The executive suggested imposing carbon fees on imports of steel from countries that don’t regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

But then Johnson raises a good question: What if cleaning up the steel industry also makes it more competitive?

As an example, he describes technology that makes it possible to reduce pollution from blast furnaces. As it happens, deploying that technology also reduces energy use and reduces the price of steel.

He comments:

Making manufacturing more efficient generally makes it cleaner, cheaper and more competitive. Something to keep in mind during the coming rumble over climate legislation.

Johnson may not be aware that lean is the best way to make manufacturing more efficient. But there are plenty of us who can make that point for him.

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