By August 24, 2006General

pluto_dog.jpgThe International Astronomical Union has just ruled that Pluto, the most distant planet in our solar system, is in fact not a planet but a large rock floating through space. I’m not an astronomer, so I leave this to the experts to hash out. But it’s reassuring to know that Pluto is still out there, regardless of its status, in the same position it’s been in for milennia. NASA even has a deep probe on its way out there to find out more about the planet….er, ex-planet.

Then there’s Pluto the Pup, who was born in the same year that the now ex-planet was discovered. I guess you could say he is the planet’s mascot since they have been cobranded for a generation. This Pluto is part of the Mickey Mouse universe. We can thank Disney for this Pluto, who has been Mickey’s best friend for decades and presumably will remain so, regardless of what today’s astronomers do. Pluto the Pup first appeared in The Chain Gang in 1930. This Disney character has always been one of the most endearing cartoon figures and there’s no doubt that Americans interest in the ex-planet over the years has had something to do with this little dog.

What does Pluto have to do with manufacturing? Well, you hear from some experts and men and women on the sidewalk that manufacturing is sort of like that ex-planet. It used to be important, but now it is not really a central part of the US economy. Fortunately, manufacturing hasn’t lost its punch and is still very much a part of the US economy, with more produced in the United States last year than at any time in US history. Manufacturing employs 14 million men and women and at least another 6 million indirectly. What’s more, it accounts for over 60 percent of private sector R&D, giving this country the innovation edge in global competition. If you want to know more about today’s manufacturing, just click on The Manufacturing Institute.