When I hear politicians say that we need to bring more offshore manufacturing jobs back to the US, to me it is like saying that we need to move more employment back to the farms. Often the dialog related to manufacturing jobs includes references to more skilled jobs with higher wages.
There is one very big problem with this thinking: there is no way we can compete with seventy-five cents per hour labor rates. If full employment was the goal, then we could simply remove productivity tools. Imagine how many people we could put back to work if we outlawed construction equipment like backhoes and replaced them with shovels.
The agrarian age gave way to the industrial (manufacturing) age, which gave way to the information age. The majority of laborers in poor countries are engaged in agriculture, in emerging countries in manufacturing, and in rich countries in information or thought oriented industries like Google and Microsoft. Pandering to constituents by invoking memories of the past industrial age is both immoral and lazy.
Embracing a vision of a better future based on more thought oriented industries and putting in place incentives and educational opportunities (like K-14 vs K-12 education) to migrate the workforce is harder, but will better serve everyone in the long run.
Is your business holding on to the past, or would it be better served by redirecting its efforts to take full advantage of the information age?
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