Manufacturing in the USA

The NYTimes has a not miss article about why Apple does not make things in the USA anymore.
Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas, a small fraction of the over 400,000 American workers at General Motors in the 1950s, or the hundreds of thousands at General Electric in the 1980s. Many more people work for Apple’s contractors: an additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple’s other products. But almost none of them work in the United States. Instead, they work for foreign companies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, at factories that almost all electronics designers rely upon to build their wares.
 and this passage that is obviously something way beyond economists like Dean Baker.
In part, Asia was attractive because the semiskilled workers there were cheaper. But that wasn’t driving Apple. For technology companies, the cost of labor is minimal compared with the expense of buying parts and managing supply chains that bring together components and services from hundreds of companies.
In the economic models used by conventional economists, left and right, there is no measurable difference between a factory making electronic devices and an office building managing corporate HR paperwork as long as gross accounting measures are the same. But in the real-world, there is a huge difference not only between the economic effects of the two businesses but in the economic position of the workers and the surrounding economy. It's the difference between making and managing. Which is why Robert Reich, Dean Baker and other "left economists" are so confused and so unable to offer illuminating critiques or useful proposals. Keynesian stimulus is not going to bring those Apple jobs back or fix the erosion of the middle class that is tied to the erosion of the manufacturing base.  The failure of "the left" to understand that the rise of the Romney/Koch economy of corporate looting and crony capitalism is not the result of some bad corporate executives and lack of sufficient regulation, but is generated by deeper forces is part of the reason that "the left" has become a barrier to progress.


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