Response to Foreign Wage Blog
Wow, I have no clue what you just said. I even read it 8 times. That is double of how many time I usually read things. I am slow reader with a high comprehension level. But I guess that is what you were talking about. My productivity level is low. If one wants to justify paying me a low wage, they can say, look how slow he is. That is until somebody points out that the results is 90% less dysfunctional products make it to the market. If it was the other way around, then people would seek to say, “yeah, but look how cheep and dysfunctional the product that reaches the market is.” In which case the business you are herofying would justify paying less. This is an old magician’s trick. Ask an audience member for the answer then show them the question it fits. What do you say to the 100,000 mile warrantee with sound quality KIA and Hundi that have flooded the market? They are made with cheap labor at an efficient pace and with many of the same manufacturing statistics.
The author’s assessment that “more sweat shops” are needed in developing countries dizzies me with irrational and inhumane rhetoric. That is the nicest way I could say it. (here on my blog I can say it. He is an asshole. A clueless one at that. Look the fact is that we would round up, prosecute, and perp. march a manufacturer in say Chicago who employed 8 yr old children, worked them 60 hours a week, for $.40 a month, while billowing pollutions into our waterways and national air space. However, we don’t think twice to stampede a poor Wal-Mart security guard to death in order to get our hands on a bicycle made in China under those exact same conditions. This is an unsustainable and narrow sighted thought stream. It is one that will not allow the human race to exist for more then 3 or 4 more generations. Not at least in the capacity as we know it.
The auto industry, being from the “auto belt”, is near and dear to me. What happened was that with out trade restrictions, it was cheaper to build a cheap structure in south America and China that didn’t require the billions of dollars in environmental and human safety regulations that required millions yearly in upkeep. With them went all the supporting manufactures and the jobs they offered. The big 3 would have no problem paying the pensions if they were the only game in town. People would have no problem paying the cost of the Big 3’s prices if they all had good paying jobs themselves. The problem is that the opportunity to go to less regulated markets cost the companies who tried to remain their “national pride” two ways. They couldn’t compete with the labor costs by the wholly foreign companies, and they lost the income that was once in the hands of the local economy.
Put in an analogy. Say you live on the border of Southern California and the thought that you might like a burrito comes into your head. You have two favorites. They are your favorites because they both taste about the same. You know about the one up north because you did a plumbing repair for the owner last year. The border crossing is something you do a couple of times a week and it is no big deal. The only difference is that the restaurant in Mexico will cost you about $.40 for the dinner and a margarita. The one equally north in California will coast you about $10 for the same. So you say, “What the heck, I’ll go to Mexico and even give the guy a $1 tip and make his day.” Then one day you (Jose de fontanero) notice that your northern customer is closing his restaurant. You stop in and ask why? It turns out most people decided to make that trip down south. You just ate yourself out of a job. Take that job and multiply it time a few million, add about 10 layers of bureaucracy, and you get the impact of globalization on the auto industry. The big 3’s failures were not a result of not being able to pay pensions. Sure that is the way it looks now. They are the result of developing a business on the wrong side of the industrial development curve. All of their hard work has ended up benefiting the spoiled hands of the children who feel they deserve it. The truth is that the only thing that kept our tiny towns from being devastated by poverty earlier is that the auto industry as well as the steel industry had to pay decent wages.
The numbers you are making up are not even close. I can tell you stories that have been told by steel industry execs. That talk about the insane productivity and efficiency of Asian labor markets. One of my favorites is about a plant manager who went to see the plants in Japan. A coil came off the mill with a scratch down the side. The guy who caused it stayed after on his own time to polish it out. The next morning he apologized in person to everybody on the line for wasting their time.
What we have are two distinctly separate economies that have been raped and pillaged by people of this caliber of ignorant greed. In reality what counts is not the amount of money brought home from work to help meet basic needs, but how much time is spent away from work while still making those ends meet. If you want to equalize wages, We need to stop viewing them as hard currencies and instead as the result of labor hours. What is fair? What is the average cost of housing, groceries, and wardrobe for a year? How many labor hours does it take in the foreign markets to purchase these same necessities? That is how you judge equality.