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Friday, November 29

Two Myths: Reverse migration of offshored US manufacturing firms, The Lazy Mexican

From the schedule for John Batchelor's radio show (emphasis mine; see the JBS website for links and podcast of the discussion
Wednesday 27 November 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Alan Tonelson, Research Fellow at the U.S. Business & Industry Council Educational Fdn, in re: "You name it, Foxconn makes it."
[China's] Foxconn also contributed $10 million to Carnegie-Mellon's robotic program. In the US automotive sector, now booming: inflation-adjusted wages have been falling faster since the recession trick at the end of 2007, faster even than retail wages have. In China, wages rising four times faster than productivity is. The field is still much skewed by Chinese govt subsidies plus Chinese currency manipulation.

In the US, govt regulatory capture driving industry out of much of the Eastern US, many parts of which are industrial wastelands. Washington State losing Boeing to South Carolina. Inshoring: mfg operations return to the US after having migrated overseas -- it's overwhelmingly imaginary!

Foxconn Sends a manufacturing message with New Pennsylvania plant last week, the international electronics mega-manufacturer Foxconn announced plans to invest $30 million in a new robotics plant in Harrisburg, PA. Foxconn, the notorious Chinese low-wage manufacturer of Appleā€™s iPhone, has become the poster child of U.S. outsourcing in the face of ruinous global labor cost competition. The calculus of manufacturing supremacy is seemingly simple: Low labor costs and taxes, proximity to a large consumer base, and manageable corruption levels equal a sure strategy to attract global firms. [more]
Hmmmm. Why does that calculus sound familiar to me? Oh -- Mexico! As to what Americans will do when their Mexican gardeners, nannies, lettuce pickers, and construction workers return in droves to Mexico to work on assembly lines there -- maybe they can make up the shortfall for a few years with workers further south than Mexico. But then hordes of upper- and middle-income Mexicans will be scooping up cheap labor from further south to work as their gardeners, nannies, etc.

As to whether Americans themselves can make up the shortfall: in a televised exchange in 2011, a passerby asked a white Wall Street Occupier (virtually all WSOs were white) and jobless college graduate whether he'd ever considered exerting himself to get a job, any kind of job. The Occupier snarled that he wasn't going to work for minimum wage.

And a few hours ago I heard a clip on Majic 102.3 -- a 'black' radio station in the DMV (Greater Washington, DC). The clip was from a recent Tom Joyner morning radio show, which is syndicated in big cities throughout the USA. The clip poked fun at Mexicans working at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving Day. (Many Americans are protesting any store policy that requires employees to work on the holiday; Wal-Mart is one of the stores but it pays employees an extra day's pay for working on Thanksgiving.) The comedy bit was replete with the kind of phony Mexican accent that would bring forth the wrath of political correctness watchdogs if uttered by a white instead of a black. The reaction to the bit from the other blacks on the show was laughter.

And laughter from a black American audience was the reaction to a black standup comedian's routine more than a year ago, in which he played a black American construction worker trying to persuade a Mexican co-worker to slow down and not work so hard because he was showing him up.

From these and many other indications, somehow I don't think a majority of Americans will want to make up the shortfall in the event of a large reverse diaspora of Mexicans.

Oh well, there's always robotics.

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