@ Shangheid -
You said "Also, if NAFTA is the true culprit here, how do you explain the massive, decade long economic surge the economy experienced during the internet boom in the late 90's? Did manufacturing come to mind then? "
Wow really? The economic surge because of the internet boom? You're forgetting the subsequent economic plunge when that "internet boom" had its bubble burst.
The internet is finally starting to find its balance between pie-in-the-sky get-rich-quick scheming and real-world, value-based use via cloud computing and such, but the so-called boom you're referring to in the 90s was a lot more smoke and mirrors than what we have today, and it did a lot of damage to a lot of people's long-term financial plans.
The blue-collar factory jobs that have been lost do need to be returned to this country. Yes, NAFTA was a mistake. No, those jobs aren't just button-pushing spots in mechanized assembly plants. There are highly skilled jobs that go hand-in-hand with modern factories. Who do you think maintains those robotic assembly lines? Not just the professionals with degrees in robotic science, engineering, and computer science. There are blue-collar technician positions that coincide with every mechanized assembly unit in use. I can forward your inquiries to a family member of mine that works in the field if you care to cure your ignorance.
And for the things that mechanized lines still can't do, that require the adaptability that only a human mind can bring, I for one would rather have an American filling that job than someone south of the border or overseas.
"-inflated pay for (likely union) button pushers in mostly mechanized assembly scenarios, which would skyrocket prices and destroy consumption."
This right here is why you are part of the problem. You talk about commodity prices increasing as a result of bringing back unionized jobs to this country in America-run factories. Basically, you want your sh*t cheap and don't care where it's made or who made it. You think the things you buy that are made in Mexican and Chinese factories are made under ideal work conditions? Think again. You decry "forced labor manufacturing like the Soviets did during the cold war", yet you're willing to buy goods produced in places where people are paid a tiny fraction of our minimum wage to make it. These people are borderline slave labor, but you don't care as long as your prices at the register stay low.
Keep living in your dream world there champ. If the status quo keeps up, sooner or later society will implode and the ignorant fools like you in the world will be chum in the water.