22.1.12

Good luck, American factory workers.

Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhonemanufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”
How will the American labour unions match that? Is it a good business decision to set up a plant in America, these days? Are you entitled to government protection, or should you have to compete? At what point do you start getting concerned about underage labour, "unfair" wages and how companies and governments overseas treat their workers in what kinds of conditions?

There has to be a baseline for human rights and the rights of workers to affect the political decision-making process. After that, I'd rather see free, fair, transparent and open competition with special interest groups like the American auto-lobby, the American agri-business, Japanese rice-farmers and pompous French traditionalists taking a backseat. Don't even get me started on the Common Agricultural Policy. And let's not pretend that China doesn't do everything it possibly can to promote Chinese industrial hegemony, both within and outside China's borders (which in themselves are a source of massive disputes, particularly some very dangerous expansionist claims in the South China Sea). But the fact remains that you'd be a fool to set up an average industrial operation in the US right now. Flexibility. Regulations. The sense of entitlement. Costs per worker.

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