Manufacturing has always been a driver for prosperity. There has never been a service economy that has prospered for more than a few decades. I challenge anyone to find an example.
Having studied the costs of on-shore vs off-shore electronics/semiconductor manufacturing the issue is less about labor costs than it is about the costs of capatilization and taxation and lack of incentives. In fact in many areas the lower labor costs off-shore are offset to a great degree by infrastructure and logistic costs. Until this country realizes manufacturing is key to prosperity and fully understands the real issues that push manufacturing odff-shore, the US economy will be in for a rocky future.
Are you kidding? Nobody here is afraid of outsourcing! Because everyone here has the best personality and creativity and everything required to be successful. The problem is - not everybody outside this EETIMES forum is like that. A lot of people have mid-range IQ, mid-range capability, and can only work on mid-range stuff, which happens to match most of the manufacturing related jobs, including the manufacturing itself as well as the supporting industry, such as the restaurant, the dry cleaner, the Fedex, the builder, the plumber (you get the picture). If manufacturing is gone, I can imagine the impact is more on the indirect side than the direct side. And it's going to be bad.... Maybe people in the auto industry in Michigan are feeling the pain of closing manufacturing plants already?
By the way, when I say "weak and chicken", I don't mean just working very hard in labor, but the whole mindset. Creativity comes from learning, not repetitive work. You have to always think deeper and try to view things from higher grounds. You need to learn new ideas and fields of knowledge by yourself with both discipline and passion.
If we truly are confident, we should embrace this new era of easy flow of information/knowledge/money to see who can search and learn faster and think more critically, and shout "Bring it ON" rather than "mommy government, I am afraid".
I think Semiconductor gave a good example by telling his own path. You just can not stop climbing up the hill, as what you are getting is far more than what those Indian and Chinese graduates can ever dream to get. A lot of American workers I saw are comfortable with their pays and retirement plans, and more than that they are settled with their life style of working 8 hours during the day and brainwashing with TV at night. I didn't see them going to a graduate school or taking any systematic approach to study anything new.
But the elite work force in China is working nearly 6 days a week, 11-12 hours a day. You can call that sweat shop or whatever you want, but the smart new graduates are willing to do just that to get a decent life. As far as I know, they have copy versions of nearly all English textbooks covering from computer architecture to software to circuit design. And the best guys I know from China are studying those by themselves using after hours and practicing those in real work.
All in all, if we are willing to accept the same pay level with same amount of work done, or more pay justified by more work done (since we "think" that we are more "innovative" and "efficient"), I just don't see why we should panic about outsourcing or fear the competition.
"Weak and chicken" :-)
I think your characterization of typical American Engineer is as bad as an American Engineer saying foreign engineers are not as creative so we have nothing to fear about the future of innovation. In my couple of decades of experience, I have found neither true on average. My personal perspective (and not sure how reflective this is of average US Engineer) is that it's quite daunting to see the sheer number of engineering graduates coming out of, not only China but also India. Combine that with the growing economic divide (rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, shrinking middle class) here in this country, and possibly unfair trading relationship at a global level and, well, call me self centered if you will, but I feel I'm getting screwed. The current economic recession brought on by greed and the ever present "make a quick buck" at any cost mentality has exacerbated all this. (hey, if all those so supposedly smart Wall Street wizards F'ed up this bad, am I to believe the same type of push to "make a quick buck" by outsourcing R&D down to manufacturing will not have similar negative repercussions just because it's in the high tech sector - I think not).
I have more engineering buddies out of work now by easily more then and order of magnitude then I have ever known, how many of them would be out of a job now if US didn't have such a propensity to make a very few very rich at the expense of others.
These are hard working, smart individuals, not weak or chicken or expecting a handout. I myself come from a homeless environment, as a teenager I slept where I could find shelter, worked to literally eat, etc. But I got a GED, continue working full time, put myself through college and grad school. Gradated in top 5% of my class, Tau Beta Pi, etc., etc., etc. Have always excelled at work, etc. and I know many, many other engineers here in the US who have even more compelling stories. Weak, chicken, no, I don't think so.
Count on yourself, not the country anymore.
Are most people that afraid of competition?
Say, you are among top 10 smart and hardworking people in U.S., do you dare to compete against the top 2 smart guy in China (considering China's population is about 5 times of US). That is the battle you have to fight when the world is flat in both trading, communication, and information flow.
What's the living standard in China, for a guy like you with similar ambition, knowledge, and spirit of adventure? Much lower. Then it's your bottom line to bear. In order to advance from that bottom line, you have to continue to fight.
Common US people are so spoiled by the shield provided by this country. Our competition level for workers/engineers (especially the blue collar ones) were not rising with the technology that enables much much easier flow of money/technology/information across this man made shield/barrier. Common people only now take their first peek at the cruel world outside like toddlers under the wings of their parents.
Are you that weak and chicken?
The billboard reads "Recession- 101. The economy will recover"
Today at lunch, I heard somebody say " I am applying for a job today. I am getting tired of doing nothing". The second guy said "Yes, the great American Dream"
It hurts to watch people struggle with the economy. I am not working full-time myself. I would like to say that the service sector is where the money is at currently and you can't expect people to go elsewhere. Everybody wants to sell Levis; After all, it is easier to sell them than it is to make them. However, after the pendulum swings to the service sector side, it should start to make its way back toward the new place for making money, and that is likely MANUFACTURING THINGS.
The auto manufacturers need to take their cars outside the country for a while so that the people that got used to working for them will reset their economy and help us to reset our national economy. It is not neccessarily bad that there are unions of people that demand their right to make a wage and other perks, but without a little shrinkage in our economy, the little businessman, who can play a role in the future of our economy cannot exist! It is also not just the car manufacturers, there are a lot of industries that will be making these shifts in the future...
Do you remember the corner butcher? How about the barber shop where you got your hair cut? Can you remember the little bakery where you used to get treats?
I know that these things will start to show up as the big guys leave the country to make their inferior goods overseas. All the discussions point that way.
The US is not killing its innovation machines. By outsourcing its manufacturing and more recently its design and development capabilities, the US is enabling other nations to catch up and take over its role as the leader in innovation - and in living standard. In the end, the US could still have leading edge technologies but with fewer researchers, engineers and financiers doing the jobs. Prof. Yoffie was right on saying the US is not killing its innovation machine. The US only send more and more of its citizens to the Mc's kitchens to flip burgers.