This week, the New York Times article on how the US lost out on iPhone manufacturing has been making the rounds all over the Internet. From what I’ve read so far, I think that Wade Rathke the chief organizer for ACORN International has the best rebuttal to the Times article out there.
Good news that we are really talking about manufacturing. Bad news that the ideology underpinning the conversation is that there can only be manufacturing at the expense of workers’ rights and wages in sweatshop conditions.
Shame on Apple, the Times, and the rest of the tribe that makes these rationalizations!
One of the examples in the Times article that Rathke criticizes, is the ability of Chinese corporations like Foxconn to mobilize eight thousand workers in a heartbeat, with this supposedly being impossible to do in America.
The reporter and others marveled at how on a whim 8000 workers could be pulled out of bed in company owned and run dormitories and put to work on a last-minute changeover. Wow, the article and others seemed to say, that couldn’t happen here in America.
Well, that’s wrong. It could happened here in America, but Apple would have to pay for it, and that’s still the real difference (emphasis added).
That’s the truth! Apple would have to pay a lot more to do this stateside and rightfully so. Another thought I had was that some of the examples that supporters of this sort of manufacturing tout, would be frowned upon in the United States. There’s a reason why sweatshops are reviled in this country.
The other point that the Times article attempts to make about corporations not being able to find thousands of people ready to work in rapid fashion is also refuted by Rathke.
Even in the pages of the New York Times, if they were interested they can read about the skilled works by the thousands that have trucked themselves into North Dakota (of all places!) to live in, yes, bunks, trailers, and all manner of man-caves in order to work in the oil industry on the planes. But, whoops, once again, I should add that they are doing so, because they get paid, and paid pretty damned well to do so!
So basically when corporations say they can’t find people to hire in the United States, what they’re really saying is that they don’t want to pay a fair and just wage for it. Lastly, there was an argument made that besides the so-called lack of workers, the infrastructure and resources to manufacture on a large-scale and in a specialized manner, has simply left the U.S. The United States cannot compete with the coordinated system of manufacturing in Asia we’re told. If we tried, it would just add to the cost of making each iPhone. Even so, Apple would still make a handsome profit!
The problem is really about the existence of what author Phillip Bobbitt calls the market-state, and its attempt to supersede the nation-state.
The “market-state” is the latest constitutional order, one that is just emerging in a struggle for primacy with the dominant constitutional order of the 20th century, the nation-state. Whereas the nation-state based its legitimacy on a promise to better the material well-being of the nation, the market-state promises to maximize the opportunity of each individual citizen.
If we embrace the market-state then all the talk of “made in the U.S.A.” becomes irrelevant and that is troubling.