American manufacturers can compete with anyone in the world on a level playing field.
But it's hard to do that when doing battle with America itself.
If it weren't bad enough that federal trade and tax policies seem to encourage manufacturers to pull up stakes and move off-shore, the American litigation system waits to swoop on the country's remaining manufacturers the moment something goes wrong.
Before the fire was even out at the Imperial Sugar Co. at Port Wentworth, Ga., lawyers from New York and Boston had already snatched up a Web site domain name for the tragedy, and lawyers started airing television commercials encouraging survivors to, euphemistically, "tell their stories."
Presumably as a precursor to telling the stories in court.
Someone once spoofed lawyer advertising by saying, "Remember, we don't get paid until you get paid -- then we get paid whatever you get paid." It's not that bad, but it shows how people feel about the predatory practice of lawyers circling a disaster scene like vultures.
The town of Port Wentworth is disgusted. And so are folks in Atlanta. Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Sears has warned lawyers not to approach the injured, many of whom are receiving treatment at Augusta's Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, or the victims' families.
"There are strict rules about lawyer solicitation," Sears told reporters. "Any lawyer that might be doing that, they need to be careful."
Meanwhile, Georgia House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Wendall Willard, R-Sandy Springs, had harsh words for his own legal profession after a Texas law firm placed a newspaper ad in Georgia trolling for clients from the sugar factory explosion:
"I say to you as a lawyer -- I think I can speak for all the attorneys not only in this chamber, in the General Assembly, and the vast majority of lawyers in the state of Georgia -- these type things need to be condemned, and (I) ask you to recognize that. This is not the profession we honor as members."
He's right -- on all counts. The legal profession is, indeed, a proud one. It is the right to bear arms, the right of a free press and the right of the citizen to redress grievances in a court of law that help us remain free and prosperous.
But that prosperity is threatened by a predatory fringe of the legal profession that seeks to strip the carcass bare of any business that is subject to any type of disaster.
It is surely a disaster of its own making.