This chapter discusses five aspects of U.S. man-made industry performance in the following order. The first section sketches some little- recognized but widespread social benefits arising from the industry's existence and operations. The next section compares the industry's labor productivity with that of all U.S. manufacturing. A third section treats various facets of the industry's profits. A crucial fourth section characterizes the industry's workability. The final section examines the individual performances of the firms composing the industry.
The U.S. man-made fibers industry produces many social benefits. Some enhance the quality of life; others prolong life. Lower cost of living and improved national welfare are further social benefits attributable to this industry. Examples are cited to validate these claims, but measurement and evaluation of their individual and overall net benefits have been left to those more quantitatively adept.
Man-made fibers have contributed to the health of the population and to technical progress in medicine. As man-made fibers displaced cotton, they reduced the spread of byssinosis, or brown lung disease. A corresponding displacement of asbestos is under way and should similarly reduce lung cancer among those who otherwise would be exposed to asbestos dust.
Man-made fibers have also facilitated significant technical advances in at least two medical areas, namely, surgery and nephrology. Surgical progress has been promoted by the development of arterial grafts of duPont's Dacron polyester and improved sutures of man-made fibers. Hollow cellulosic fibers form the core of the blood filter essential to every patient undergoing dialysis on an artificial kidney.
Other life-saving devices totally depend on man-made fibers. Vehicle safety belts and air bags for automobiles and stunt work are but two obvious nonmilitary