Some very good points being made. Here is a related article about high tech jobs along with my reply to Junko Yoshida's urging that "American get it's manufacturing groove back"...
I applaude Junko's spirit and bravery for even proposing the US try to bring back high tech manufacturing jobs. Most Americans would agree it would be great in many ways if we could do this (i.e. reduce unemployement, trade gap with China, Japan, etc), rejuvinate national pride, and eventually lead to manuafacturing competitive advantage, etc.
As pointed out many various replies the challenges are hugh, most of all having the political will to do this. However all hope is not lost since "political will" generally follows economic opportunity...
As such I believe it's a matter of proving the best/most profitable option for US based high techs is to manufacture in the US again. This will take deep financial analysis by our best economists to calculate NPV of future returns under various scenarios. Only by showing that US based manufacturing will provide the best ROI for investors will we be able to escape the status quo and start the ball rolling to bringing manufacturing back.
Such financial analysis would surely be able to identify the critical factors for success that need to be addressed before manufacturing in the US would make the most financial sense.
In my view this should be one of the top issues for this year's presidential election.
What are we waiting for ???
David Fatlowitz, MBA
The people of all classes and abilities who make up a society are interdependent. We cannot address our problems in isolation. But the sort of people who get elected to government want to RULE, not govern, whatever their party. So they spend all of their energy in passing restrictive laws on every conceivable subject - and some unconceivable ones too. And they love to create ever more agencies on which to squander ever more taxes. Being held responsible for creating a society in which providing useful, fairly paid employment opportunities for people of all abilities is the outstanding priority of government AND management (and I don't mean government service non-jobs) is way beyond their imagination or wishes. If the law made companies primarily responsible for keeping their employees in employment and government kept its spending, and therefore taxes, at a bare minimum, we would see a far better world. As long as we keep on electing the same useless characters, the party politicians, we will continue the slide into obscurity. Party politicians will tell you that voting for independents will lead to disagreement and failure to continually pass laws. Well provided we have a sunset clause on all of the ones we have and any that they create maybe they'd have to stop ruling and begin to learn to govern. And we could have our lives back.
All interesting and relevant comments BUT:
Engineers alone can't solve the problem - or even, it seems, agree on the causes and cures. And as long as western law makes it the single duty of corporations to maximise returns to their stockholders, all of their decisions must in the end be based on that purpose - even if their boards consist entirely of public spirited citizens. I don't want to start an argument abut what other forms of business organisation might be created; I simply point out that this law and its inevitable consequences have been created and sustained by governments of all persuasions in all western countries over an extended period. I want to say a bit more, so I'll add a second comment.
Hey George, why would this be surprising? A LOT of people have been saying this, including on this very thread, including Dave Wyland in the post immediately above yours here.
Politicians function on hype and slogans. Their motivation is to get votes in the next election. And people are concerned about jobs. So it stands to reason that politicians will come up with whatever gimmick they can to get those votes. It doesn't have to be right. It just has to work for the next few months, that's all.
China is moving to increased automation in their manufacturing sites too. The manual labor involved in manufacturing will decrease everywhere. That's the only way to keep on with steady productivity growth.
This was published in Thursday's NY Times:
It contains the following assertion:
"...few economists now consider manufacturing a potent engine for job growth in the United States."
The fundamental problem is that manufacturing is being automated the way farming was. In 1900, perhaps 50% of the jobs were in agriculture. Today it is less than 4%, and less than 2% that actually deal with the crops in the ground. Why? Automation in the form of farm machinery, such as the tractor and the combine.
In 1950, 39% of the jobs were in manufacturing. Today, less than 9% are in manufacturing, and the percentage is falling. Why? Automation in the form of automated manufacturing, robotics and the computer. The computer alone eliminated most of the jobs in the center of the management pyramid.
Outsourcing is a temporary solution. Automation will continue, and eventually all traditional, high volume manufacturing jobs will be done by machine, everywhere.
Solution? There are still jobs associated with agriculture: packaging, selling and distributing food. A "service" industry. Likewise, there are still jobs associated with product creation, packaging and distribution of manufactured goods. Both of these are centered on locality of customers. Because it takes customers who want something to make a business. Machines want nothing.
Another approach is to view manufacturing from the point of view of customer service. Locality and local desires will drive things. It is hard to outsource a McDonalds to China. Nobody will wait that long to get a Big Mac for lunch. And think about it: Big Macs are manufactured. They go through a modification process (cooking) and an assembly process in the McDonalds "plant".
If your customers want product performance and/or quality and/or product support service and/or local features that are impractical to outsource to another time zone, you need to set up an McDonalds-like manufacturing plant. Some parts of it will be sub-contracted (Oops, outsourced), such as making the buns, but the final product will be finished and assembled at the local plant.
There's this part of the Constitution (Art 1. Sec 8) that scholars refer to as "enumerated powers". The cause of national defense is an enumerated power and therefore it is fitting that the Federal government fulfill its Constitutional mandate. As far as the space program both in the US and USSR were thin disguised military programs. The Mercury-Redstone and Titan II rockets were nothing but ICBMs with astronauts on top - a great analog for large MRVs being developed then. The genius of space program was that unlike the USSR, the American tax payer would sooner or later tire of footing the bill to keep up with the heavy lift platforms of the USSR's nuke program. The "man-in-space" concept thrilled the public and provided very much needed technology to our military. If it was all about "going where no man has gone before" don'
t you think we'd at least have a moonbase or manned Mars landing by now?
Well, if by "treating differently" you mean "trashing", why then yes, I agree with you. In the case of Japan being treated differently has meant losing 20% of its currency value in 24 months. citation: http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=USDEUR=X#chart1:symbol=usdeur=x;range=2y;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined
Well, I tend to believe in free markets more than cliche. The markets certainly are treating Japan's debt differently due in large part to the two factors I mentioned.
Lots of things can be factual and still absurd within the context in which they stated.
Seems to me that the "free marketers" in Silicon Valley who rail against government intrusion (unless they are arguing for reform of the H-1B visa program) forget that there would be no electronics industry without massive government support beginning in at least the 1950s and ramping up significantly during the space race in the 1960s. The same is true for chemicals and pharmaceuticals.