Friday, March 11, 2016

Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?

"I used to think that I want to buy only goods made in America" a student said as we were wrapping up the academic term.  "But, now I think that I will be helping people in Bangladesh and Vietnam when I buy stuff they make" she added.

I am confident that any honest and thinking person will understand such a level of global inter-connectedness even if their gut instincts initially led them down a different path.

The gadget that no student would even dream of going without--the smartphone--is almost always one of those "Made in China" goods.  In commenting about Apple's products being manufactured overseas, Steve Jobs made headlines when he flatly stated : "“Those jobs aren’t coming back,”  President Obama had to reconcile with the fact that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

That was four years ago. It is now the campaign season all over again.  A candidate who wants to take over from Obama loudly proclaimed:
We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.
The candidate thundered why imposing a 35 percent tax on goods manufactured overseas is good:
Free trade is good. But we have to do it [force them back to the US]. Or we won't have a country left,
You are perhaps thinking that this is so typical of that damn socialist Bernie Sanders.

Except that it was not Sanders who said all that.  It was the capitalist billionaire Donald Trump!
Trump promises to bring Third World jobs back to an advanced economy, and millions of voters—left and right—find this emotionally satisfying and politically reasonable. Many of these people just want to find work, so it's understandable. And when the economy is stagnant, you're not going to allay working-class anxiety by pointing out that capital account surpluses matter more than trade deficits or that productivity, not foreigners, is realigning the workforce—even if it's all true.
People just don't care.
The support for Trump's economic rhetoric reflects a dangerous combination among his supporters: ignorance and apathy--don't know and don't care.  Try telling that to trump and his Trumpeters!

Of course, Sanders has offered his own wise economic policies as well.  Angry that we no longer make stuff here in America, he:
pushed the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. to only sell bobble-heads, T-shirts, snow-globes, and other souvenirs that are made in America.
An honest and thinking person will immediately see that manufacturing all that "stuff" here is not worth it.  But, try telling Sanders that!

Imagine it it became a Trump versus Sanders fight in November :(


Anne in Salem said...

I like what Sallie James says. Sanders is an idealistic fool. He would accomplish nothing as president because no Congressmen in their right minds would go along with his proposals.

I often wonder how much politicians think through their proposals. Businesses here in Oregon have already announced they will lay off workers since they can't afford the minimum wage increase and sick leave. James mentions retail jobs lost from reduced tourist dollars when prices increase. Don't politicians have advisors to look at all perspectives, or are they all sycophants?

Sriram Khé said...

I will take Sanders "an idealistic fool" over the racist/fascist/*** Trump any day.
I will take the Clinton "the congenital liar" over the racist/fascist/*** Trump any day.
The scuffle earlier this evening in Chicago is merely the beginning of what we need to prepare for as the racist/fascist/*** Trump wins more primaries and the nomination ...

Rob and Sara said...

I agree with your response, Sriram, and will add this: In my opinion, either Sanders or Clinton would be better than ANY of the candidates currently in the GOP campaign lineup. Better even than the non-Trumps.

Of the two Democrats, I think Clinton is the one who would be better able to work with others in government for the good of the country.

Demagogues, of any stripe, are dangerous for a democracy.


Sriram Khé said...

I grew up in a land of demagogues, who didn't even bother about dog-whistling to their people but were explicit their hate and populism. It is bizarre, to say the least, to see this country go down that path ... I thought we were done with that when we knocked Pat Buchanan out of the political orbit; turns out Drumpf is Buchanan on steroids no thanks to the GOP having cultivated him and the hate-generating political talk over the past few years :(

Ramesh said...

The Made in America (as indeed Made in any country) is a completely misunderstood phenomenon. Actually the iPhone is made more in America than in China. These days, supply chains are so globalised that it is almost impossible to find out where what is made, but let us try the smartphone which you are so fond of bashing.

The only way you can measure what is made somewhere is to try and find the percentage of value addition in the product and where it is sourced from. In a smartphone, the largest value addition is design, which is of course made in the US. The second is the chip which is designed in the US and probably made in Taiwan. The third is software which is designed in the US and written in India. The component parts are all made in different countries. Only the assembly, which is the lowest piece of value addition is done in China. The smartphone is really made in America, not elsewhere. The real issue is that it no longer involves the need for low wage low educated workers in the US - that is a different problem altogether.

Sriram Khé said...

Exactly! The "Made in ***" is so meaningless. But, try offering the explanation to the Trumpeters and the Bernies!
And, yes, as I repeatedly blog about, the problems of the annihilation of middle-class jobs, which is a real one, gets side-tracked by these clowns jumping up and down with their rhetoric that "claim" to address the middle class.

BTW, my latest op-ed piece will interest you folks:
It is in the other newspaper--the Statesman Journal--to which I occasionally contribute

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