For everyone who doesn’t understand why companies move jobs overseas (hint: It’s not just the wages). And for those who don’t understand why the government can’t do anything about those jobs.
I’ve worked in international trade so much, I don’t even really see where the questions come from. It’s pretty self-evident when one looks at the actual facts and numbers. We do not have the production base with the technically skilled workers needed for such large-scale production. We’re on the wrong end of the supply-chain. We have a different mentality on mobility, work ethics, and needs.
That, in no way, suggests the Chinese model is better as a value judgement. Just more economically efficient. And it really, really, really is efficient.
I’ve spent some time in Shenzhen when they were first building it up. Hong Kong was still the place for international trade, and the movements back and forth were cumbersome (anyone remember the cardboard border pass?). It wasn’t until Shenzhen became a free trade zone that it really blew up. Twelve lane highways connecting Shenzhen to different ports, all full of container trucks. The explosion of port facilities in Dalian, Fujian, Xiamen, etc. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Hong Kong is a ghost town, but it’s not the international trade darling it once was.
As far as the working conditions, social benefits, etc for Chinese workers, that’s not something I can decide for them. I try not to take a relativistic viewpoint, but really, this is what the US did during our Industrial Revolution. Why should we dictate what their social and employment mores are, especially when we’re in our own social economic crisis. It’s working for them, and millions are being moved out of poverty and subsistence farming from the western areas (with plenty of hardships left to warrant their own constant protests). There are things they do incredibly correct, and things they do incredibly wrong.
The other problem is that China is a very labor-intensive society. They can be, because they have the population for this. The West, especially America, is very capital (machine) intensive economy. Even if American companies moved their jobs back to the US, the first thing they’d do is find a way to automate the system. It’s about leveraging your competitive advantage. China = massive workforce with low pay. America = mechanized workforce with minimal (but still expensive) labor force.
There’s a lot more to change between our systems than some simple bumper sticker taglines. The sooner people get hip to that, the sooner we can start coming to real, workable solutions.
Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.