President Trump Friday slammed 3M, which makes the much-in-demand N-95 respirator masks, and said he was invoking the Defense Production Act to force the company into submission. “We’re not happy with 3M. We’re not at all happy with 3M,” he said at the White House press briefing. 3M CEO Mike Roman, whom I interviewed on this subject earlier this month, fought back. He said the company is going above and beyond to manufacture respirator masks for the U.S., and said that any suggestion that “3M is not doing all it can to fight price gouging and unauthorized reselling is absurd.”
It’s hard to get to the bottom of this breakdown between the White House and 3M. But my reading, from the public comments of both sides, is that it has less to do with whether Mr. Roman is putting financial obligations over social obligations, and more to do with which societies he is supposed to oblige. His company is based in the U.S., but operates throughout the world. Does corporate patriotism require him to put the humanitarian needs of the U.S. above all others?
President Trump and his advisor, Peter Navarro, seem to think the answer …