Galt, DWilde1, and others make very good points which both highlight why China mfg is so efficient and why stupid UA policies (Gov't and otherwise) can screw entire industries. The 'screw' list is seemingly endless.
The last major GE factory making incandescent bulbs closed in 2010. The decision to ban such bulbs did not set off a boom in the U.S. to manufacture replacement lights, but caused the leading replacement lights(CFLs) to be made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China. The spiral CFL shape was invented by GE engineer Ed Hammer and others at GE's famed Nela Park research laboratories after the 1973 energy crisis. It was too labor intensive (blowing the glass tubes) at the time to commercialize and no one would invest in automating the process.
Ellis Yan, a Chinese immigrant to the US, started his lighting business in China and in the '90s turned his attention to the making CFLs. His workers sat beside furnaces and bent the glass by hand, ultimately employing as many as 14,000 glass blowers. In 2010 his firm supplied almost half of all CFL's sold in the US. With wages rising he chooses to automate where possible.
With the deadly compounds in CFL's and the admonition that you should have a hazmat team remove a broken CFL, this is a perfect illustration of the saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
One thing is very clear: A country that loses, or chooses to lose, it's domestic manufacturing capabilities for the goods and services it needs becomes highly dependent upon others, severely compromising its own economic health and ability to survive as a sovereign nation. No country can survive on a knowledge based economy. Knowledge circulates rapidly around the world and knowing or owning a factdoesn't prevent someone from seeing entirely different possibilities based on it and you lose again to those willing to transform the knowledge into actual products and services people want or are willing to pay for.
Bingo! Plus make them pay for US inspectors to certify that they do meet US laws and standards and TARIFF where they do not. This must be done at a factory not country level. After all we just want our fair share of work not a trade war.
Hi, MP. I agree. There is no single silver bullet to this complex problem.
And yet, I do take a comfort knowing that some of us are beginning to think that "something has to be done."
The conventional wisdom was that the only way for corporations to survive was to move the job off shores so that they can create more profit. I get that.
But I think we may need to start the conversation on this topic: Can we even afford to keep losing the infrastructure (to "make" anything) in the United States?
Again same old story, same old controversy. I think that may be 10% of the people get it why this is so and remaining don't and this ratio seems to hold good every year.
Why can't the US understand the simple rule of economics 101- The jobs go to the lowest bidder, everything else is sugar coating.
As John_Galt says, the problem is not finding jobs for engineers. The problem is the dead weight of people who are challenged to cut a 2x4 squarely and pound nails into it. Those people make a large percentage of the unemployed, and no amount of 'retraining' will make them capable of doing a job that adds value in high-tech.
As for the President, no amount of Democrat finger-pointing can change the fact that this administration has done more to sabotage American business than any in recent memory. Anyone who talks about advocating 'market-based health care' after ramming through the monstrosity he and his tame Dem Congress foisted on us is a lying snake and we should remember also his blatant disregard for the Constitution and deliberate attempt to sabotage Boeing in payback for his forced-union campaign contributors.
As for the commenter above who said that some people have a problem with the law about light bulbs, please remember that the law mandated the use of poisonous and dangerous flourescents and did not allow for safe LED bulbs, it did not merely force incandescents offf the market. In short, it was asinine, short-sighted, and stupid, like most government policies.
We don't need more 'policies', we need less overhead. Less dead weight. Less politicking. And most of all, less people who cannot read the writing that has been on the wall for more than forty years that all of this was going to happen. The fact that someone can vote should not absolve him/her of the basic responsibility to learn to keep himself from being eaten. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama panders to those types.
Bert, You are probably close to being right about the Dickensonian nature of dorm life. However "one man's ceiling is another man's floor" compared to the utter destitution of those who lived through the Cultural Revolution or those who were assigned to work inland on China's still primitive farms life in the Dickensonian dorms is a relative paradise for these people.
We too manufacture high tech items in China. But today's manufacturing flow in China is not even close to what many of you here think it is. Of course, you are well aware that the actual human contact with today's high tech products must be limited - automation is everywhere and has to be to maintain quality levels - one sneeze at the wrong place and you have a dead iPhone. As a result the amount of "traditional" labor in an iPhone of iPad is nearly zero. China is and has been for the past decade the world's largest buyer of high precision production machines and robotics. Sure, the manufacturing engineers running the pick and place machines are still paid a lot less than in the west. However, consider that the world’s largest assembler, Foxconn in Zhengzhou, will have 95 SMT lines when finished later this year. We're not talking about tens of thousands of skilled jobs here - each line employs 12-16 engineers usually working 4 to a shift - so 1,500 manufacturing engineers? And what about those hundreds of thousands of other Foxconn employees? They're machine minders, parts loaders, cleaning people, recycling - all low skill jobs. Same with pack and test - a few skill positions monitoring automated testing and packaging with a crew of helpers move material from one station to the next. In the mid-90s I did some business with Bendix. The product was a flight computer for an Italian helicopter. After we replaced a suspect module we were going to retest it in the Tenny oven in the next room. Being a consultant, I wasn't aware of the rules - Bendix was a union shop and a union porter had to be called to transport this 10 pound assembly about 50 feet. While the tests were going on my host quipped "that union porter that brought the computer here makes about the same money as I do". Can you imagine the price of an iPad made in the US if the person that puts the shrink wrap on a palette costs the company $45K plus benefits?
I've no problem with hearing individual opinions and like to read those perspectives. However, if a newspaper (Electronic or otherwise) editors take a stand, that I want to know. That helps me decide on how credible or believable that data is.
The answer is automation. Machines have been taking jobs aways from people in the US for a long time. Even if these low paying jobs were not shipped to China, some of them will be lost to machines inevitably. All cooperations maximize profit, if they can not outsource jobs, they will automate them. Cheap labor in China offerred an easy way out. As the income level in China rises and China's population start to decline, automation will become a more attractive alternative. Well, of course, there is still India. We just have to be patient. :)
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