McBear, I will be rich beyond imaginations if I have the answer.
But Americans are industrious and I am sure we will redefine what the surviving industry for the rest of this and the 22nd century is. Manufacturing is just not in the equation, at least not carrying the weight like it did the last 2 centuries.
Look at "things" we manufacture in the last 20 years, they are getting smaller and with less moving parts. Our mode of transport is no longer the trains and steam boats which require lots of manufacturing infrastructure. Our source of energy is not limited to coal which also required lots of manufacture infrastructure. We have moved beyond behemoth "things", including the laptop I type on, 30 years ago my laptop (if they could even make one) probably takes up my whole house. The new Mac does not even require hard drive, all solid state. Manufacturing is no long what it used to and therefore it is a dying breed itself. Hence I think we need to think outside the box to get out of this jam we are in. Using any recycled ideas will only get us deeper in the hole.
As long as Americans buy manufactured items, there should be a US owned, domestic manufacturing base for those items. The primary reason we are in the present situation is that for no reason other than to make a quicker, bigger, buck companies have exported manufacturing know-how to areas of the world with cheap labor. So, now we have those staunch union members buying their daily dose of cheap pointless junk from Walmart. Those guys who go on strike and picket for decent wages for themselves think nothing of going to Walmart to buy cheap manufactured goods made overseas by people who have no unions and no reasonable standard of living. We have tree huggers buying imported junk from companies who can build something for so much less, which usually includes not being encumbered by environmental regulations, and then ship it around the world and put it on a shelf in a Wally World store near them.
It is the Wall Street mentality, taken over by the MBA types who have hollowed out the substance of the economy for short term profit, who offer empty slogans whenever someone notices jobs flooding out of the country - slogans like "Americans are great innovators and the next new technology will be spawned to fill the void" or "we will redefine what the surviving industry for the rest of this and the 22nd century is."
That is the old thinking that got us into this mess. The reason Americans have been effective innovators for such a long time is that in America there was no class barrier to impede a man or woman with a trade or craft skill from inventing and implementing an innovation associated with their craft. In every successful American innovative company I have known, which I admit has been mostly associated with defense industry material and parts suppliers, the founding individual for the company was a skilled laborer who also was driven to accomplish more. The advantage he had after he put a white shirt on was he actually knew a particular subject matter intimately from having engaged his mind and body in the process. Valuable innovations come from that kind background.
We will soon have a generation of engineering students looking for jobs having no experience or never having seen a real factory floor building some kind of engineered product. And without the opportunity to gain that experience in this country. The places where we sent the manufacturing know how for a quick buck will be sending their kids to our schools (oh, shit, they already are!) to learn and then go back to become the innovators of the future.
The bullshit ideas that got us into this mess are what we have to uncover and fix. This problem is no different than any other problem we are faced with - and the fix is the same. Find out what caused the problem and work on how that cause came about, and fix the root cause. Deciding to embrace some new idea because it is new, without fixing the basic ethical rot that has consumed the Wall Street crowd is like changing oil because you have a flat tire and find working on tires old fashioned or distasteful.
This country consumes more of the world's resources than any other. That process was accelerated by the outsourcing of jobs. I fail to see the benefits to the average American, our nation from a strategic and security perspective, or the world.