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Old 06-18-2020, 12:57 PM
 
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Well, if "we don't need to make things in the US" you'd better hope we never get into another real shooting war.


We've given up all our colonies - goodbye rubber and aluminum.


We've let the Chinese underbid us on manufactured goods - goodbye rolling element bearings, LEDs, and a host of other items.


We have no domestic machine tool industry.


Our domestic semiconductor industry is down to about 2 companies and only a small fraction of their manufacturing facilities are in the US.


If China cut us off, we'd be totally hosed.


The test case I always use on the anti-manufacturing zealots is the rolling element bearings industry. Once a staple of US industry, and in past times aggressively protected as a matter of vital national interest (even within my lifetime!), today almost all such bearings are made outside the US. There are entire classes of rolling element bearings that no US company can manufacture, nor do they have the expertise to do so without having to re-discover the process and design knowledge that was pi$$ed away over the last 30 years.


How it's a test is that I ask anti-manufacturing types if they know what rolling element bearings are, and where they're used. So far I"m 0 for over 100. The people who don't think we ought to make stuff here, DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS THEY'RE TELLING US WE DON'T NEED TO MAKE!!!


Well, I'll just fill you in a little bit: EVERY SINGLE PIECE of military hardware depends on rolling element bearings because it contains them, or because the equipment required to manufacture it contains them.
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:10 PM
 
2,815 posts, read 782,041 times
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Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
Well, if "we don't need to make things in the US" you'd better hope we never get into another real shooting war.
I'm aware of the arguments. And yes, we've let some crucial industries slide below acceptable levels. (Any student of WWII knows that the prize targets in Germany were things like ball bearing plants.)

But I don't think it's a sweeping argument to rebuild (and in various ways, subsidize) every military-related industry.


(Short argument: if we have a "real shootin' war," it's not likely to last long enough to use up what equipment we have. If it becomes a persistent thing, neither Russia nor China is completely self-contained, either and we can and will convert to necessary production as we've done at least twice before. Too polyanna for you? Sorry, but I think the degree to which we have made and continue to make economic/social decisions that support some vague idea of a post-WWII military force at the expense of nearly everything else is misguided; to turn the US back into a self-contained MIC would be compounding the error.)
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:28 PM
 
4,831 posts, read 4,056,932 times
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Originally Posted by Therblig View Post
Because we're not China in about fifty different and significant ways. Nor, I think, do we want to be.

Just to make it clear, I don't think we need to "bring manufacturing back to the US" in any large scale way. Some critical industries, yes. Things we have proven to be good at in the long run, yes. But anything like "all manufacturing"? No. We are a global economy; we should work to structure that so it works best for everyone involved. We would gain nothing by, say, bringing most plastics manufacturing back here.
Why? And who are you to decide on behalf of millions of workers what their career options should be?

I believe that we're perfectly capable of making plastics (a huge industry, by the way, if you include petrochemicals, nylons, resins, silicone, etc.). If the only reason we're not making a lot of plastics is onerous taxation and regulation, we should cut down those obstacles as much as possible, and then allow our companies to compete on a more level playing field.

Actually, plastics is a bad example. Cheap fracked oil and gas have spurred a comeback in the domestic plastics and chemicals industries.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:45 PM
 
1,754 posts, read 887,427 times
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Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
… We have no domestic machine tool industry. Our domestic semiconductor industry is down to about 2 companies and only a small fraction of their manufacturing facilities are in the US. … If China cut us off, we'd be totally hosed. …
… The people who don't think we ought to make stuff here, DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS THEY'RE TELLING US WE DON'T NEED TO MAKE!!!
Turf3, you and I are in some agreement upon this matter. I don’t suppose you believe that USA’s annual economies would have equally benefited if more data processing and electronic research and development were carried out beyond rather than within USA’s borders?

USA manufacturing has been reduced and there is less commercial funding for basic research and development. This is further reflected by lesser than otherwise federal research and development. There are lesser commercial producers lobbying for such research. Colleges and universities are doing lesser basic reach and development, because commercial and government funding has is less than otherwise.

As manufacturers experience the handling of their tools and materials, they gain further insight and experience of their manufacturing processes.

Respectfully, Supposn
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Old 06-19-2020, 03:18 AM
 
1,754 posts, read 887,427 times
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Originally Posted by Therblig View Post
... I don't think it's a sweeping argument to rebuild (and in various ways, subsidize) every military-related [USA] industry. ...
Therblig, I’m among proponents of the superior trade policy described in Wikipedia’s “Import Certificates” article.
USA adoption of the unilateral, substantially market driven trade policy would significantly reduce, (if not eliminate) our annual trade deficits of goods, while increasing our GDP more than otherwise. All direct federal expenditures for this proposed foreign trade policy are eventually passed on to importers of foreign goods entering the USA. If due to this policy there would be any other costs to those importers, such additional costs serve as an indirect but effective price subsidy of USA’s exported goods.

Refer to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Import_certificates .
Respectfully, Supposn

Excerpted from the thread "Does comparative advantage justify USA’s free-trade policy?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Supposn View Post
... Trade deficit nations’ lesser than otherwise GDP due to their net balance of trade, are particularly reflected by their lesser numbers of jobs and wage amounts. If they had spent a lesser proportion for domestic rather than imported goods and services, their GDP, and aggregate numbers of jobs and amounts of wages would have been greater. Within the past half century, USA’s net trade balance has always been the highest of trade deficit nations. …
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Old 06-19-2020, 06:42 AM
 
4,831 posts, read 4,056,932 times
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Originally Posted by TestEngr View Post
Well we have discussed many things on this thread. Just throw a few more things out, some discussed, some not.

Discussed already: The cost of real estate making it hard for manufacturing to setup in an area and hire in US. There are some places still cheaper in the US, but many companies for unknown reasons always try to setup in CA. It certainly won't work for all companies to go to CA and setup.

Discussed already: Then the fact that in the US there is EPA, OSHA, and so on, so dumping chemicals in the river behind the plant is not allowed. Work here provides some safety rules too. There may be laws in other countries but no way to enforce any of it, essentially zero most places. So there should 100% be a specific tax on imports for not having these abilities to monitor environments, to insure safety of workers and so on. If the US pays for it, and we do, other countries must do the same. But not a general import tax, but some import tax for not having enforcement of environment and workers. Perhaps some companies that prove they are up to the US in making products don't have this tax on products sold, but that is few right now.

Then there is excessive management in the US. When engineering was really working in the US and we made electronics, there just wasn't that much management. There was some but not tons. In other countries there isn't much management and it is working there right now. For whatever reasons the US over values management. Not that some management isn't needed and good. Some bring in contracts for new work, so we do need some management. But there is lots and lots of management in the US now. There is also lots of paperwork to excessive levels as well. So a devaluing of paperwork and management is needed for electronics to be made in US again or at least US to lead again. Then excessive executive compensation plays into this as well.

Then the US totally devalued degrees like electrical engineering especially at highest levels mostly in last ten years. Now many companies if they want something they advertise for these silly certifications. All that certification stuff needs to go back where it came from or the garbage bin, and go back to valuing higher education like advanced degrees in engineering and science.

Then another big one, the US companies that made electronics in say late '90s had hundreds of thousands of employees, plus huge plants that cost fortunes and it all worked. They were valued by the stock market for having those assets of employees and facilities. But then with the advent of social media companies we suddenly see companies that had only a few people and hardly any facilities were valued more than companies that own capability in electronics. This mis-valuation of companies would have to change somehow. I have been in huge plants in the US, they cost a ton. They are worth something more than social media companies assets which aren't really anything other than the platform itself. Somehow a truer valuation would have to exist for electronics manufacturing to come back.
A common criticism of U.S. industry dating to the 1970s is the tendency to promote people with business degrees rather than technical degrees.

Japan, at least during their period of industrial ascendancy in the 1970s-90s, promoted more technical managers. They value the MBA as an extra skill set, not as the be-all-end-all. I once read back in the early 90s, I believe, that Japanese valued a Harvard Business School MBA not for the education itself, but for the English language and cultural education, and useful contacts, for doing business with Americans.

The old adage that a good engineer makes a terrible manager is true to some extent, but I believe it's because of unrealistic responsibilities heaped on mid-level managers. They're basically scapegoats for C-level leadership when quarterly numbers are bad. Bob's making $150K a year and he has had three bad quarters in a row. Can him, promote the next stooge, rinse and repeat.

What we're competing with now is about 400 million urban businesspeople, mostly in China, who are all scrambling to get rich. It's like America in the 1890s, a rather lawless and cutthroat place dominated by oligarchs yet with millions of very aggressive, highly creative small businessmen fighting for a piece of the pie. No unions, no environmental laws, no lawyers, no professional managers, no wrongful termination lawsuits. A free-for-all.

How do we compete with that? I think we can't, really. We have to instead leverage our own advantages -- our diversity, our individualism, creativity, anti-authority, etc. These can seem like problems, but in fact they are our greatest strength and the reason we are a $22T economy even today. But to really unleash our competitiveness, we need to remove obstacles like high taxation & regs, lawsuits & NIMBY-ism, short term fixation on quarterly profits, etc.
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Old 06-19-2020, 11:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by blisterpeanuts View Post
Why? And who are you to decide on behalf of millions of workers what their career options should be?
Okay, really? Really? In a vast forum of individual voices among which we pretty much never see posts beginning "Since I am the Emperor of the world, I decree that my subjects must..." and posts are never considered as anything but individual opinion... you're going to to pull out the barstool/playground "You ain't the boss of me" retort?

Or were you conferring the orb and scepter on me with the plea that I use it wisely?




Quote:
I believe that we're perfectly capable of making plastics (a huge industry,
With the other problem being that unless a poster unleashes a mircean thesis complete with references, it will be misunderstood.

The US has a plastics industry, right about what it should be, split between very cheap local-use products on the bleach bottle level and high-end, sophisticated-material fabrication. What I meant was that we don't really have any need to pull back the vast middle ground of molded consumer, automotive and general products; we can leave it to the countries that have been doing it well and cost-effectively for decades.

Ditto for many general production and some specialty-production industries. With orb and scepter in hand, We simply cannot see any reason for the US to do all of its own manufacturing in every area. In fact, We would argue that there are good reasons to leave most consumer-good manufacturing overseas.

(Hey, we could play a pretty good game of softball with these things... I wonder if that ever occurs to the other royalty?)
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:00 PM
 
4,831 posts, read 4,056,932 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Therblig View Post
The US has a plastics industry, right about what it should be, split between very cheap local-use products on the bleach bottle level and high-end, sophisticated-material fabrication. What I meant was that we don't really have any need to pull back the vast middle ground of molded consumer, automotive and general products; we can leave it to the countries that have been doing it well and cost-effectively for decades.

Ditto for many general production and some specialty-production industries. With orb and scepter in hand, We simply cannot see any reason for the US to do all of its own manufacturing in every area. In fact, We would argue that there are good reasons to leave most consumer-good manufacturing overseas.

(Hey, we could play a pretty good game of softball with these things... I wonder if that ever occurs to the other royalty?)
My point is, why and how do "we" decide how much of any particular industry is "enough"?

I am a Milton Friedman free market kind of guy, but what we have in the U.S. is far from free markets and hasn't really been since the 1920s or so.

If we stopped impeding manufacturing as much as we do, akin to fighting a boxing match with one hand and two legs tied behind our back, we could be a hyper competitive economy in the world, vastly wealthier (for all, not just for a globalist elite), and with far less debt, as balance of trade and tax revenue even at lower taxation levels would exceed governmental expenses. Which expenses, of course, would be a lot lower since way less need for social welfare spending.

In my opinion, we could dominate plastics in the world if we wanted to. However, that's not the high value proposition. The high value proposition is electronics, chips, displays, and all the components that go into integrating high tech products. Not just the end products, but the fabrication tools to make these products, the robotics behind the fab tools, etc. up the chain. We have good software, but our hardware economy is hollowed out.

Our ability to make LCD displays should be at least as world class as our ability to grow wheat or build fighter jets.
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:11 PM
 
2,815 posts, read 782,041 times
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Originally Posted by blisterpeanuts View Post
My point is, why and how do "we" decide how much of any particular industry is "enough"?
Not by mandating its existence. Whether for The Good Of The People or The Good Of The Army, that's very specifically an -ism most Americans reject.

Our generally free market system works pretty well, overall. Those who argue for absolute laissez-faire are greedy idiots; those who argue for total control of markets are clueless idiots. The answer, as we've pretty much found over the last five decades, is in the middle: a free market with regulation and control and (some) mandates to maintain national security.

But I reject the notion that we should somehow be 100% ready for tech/industry/manufacturing isolation and every world possibility up to war, given how many other things that readiness would cost. If a pretty balloon goes up, we have perhaps more resources in the continental US than any similar region on earth to adapt and cope.

Again, I agree the US should have at least basic manufacture of critical military and infrastructure elements, at least at a level that could be ramped up quickly if need be. But all consumer good manufacture can stay in China et al. and is better left there.
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Old 06-19-2020, 02:08 PM
 
3,903 posts, read 2,419,068 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
Well, if "we don't need to make things in the US" you'd better hope we never get into another real shooting war.


We've given up all our colonies - goodbye rubber and aluminum.


We've let the Chinese underbid us on manufactured goods - goodbye rolling element bearings, LEDs, and a host of other items.


We have no domestic machine tool industry.


Our domestic semiconductor industry is down to about 2 companies and only a small fraction of their manufacturing facilities are in the US.


If China cut us off, we'd be totally hosed.


The test case I always use on the anti-manufacturing zealots is the rolling element bearings industry. Once a staple of US industry, and in past times aggressively protected as a matter of vital national interest (even within my lifetime!), today almost all such bearings are made outside the US. There are entire classes of rolling element bearings that no US company can manufacture, nor do they have the expertise to do so without having to re-discover the process and design knowledge that was pi$$ed away over the last 30 years.


How it's a test is that I ask anti-manufacturing types if they know what rolling element bearings are, and where they're used. So far I"m 0 for over 100. The people who don't think we ought to make stuff here, DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS THEY'RE TELLING US WE DON'T NEED TO MAKE!!!


Well, I'll just fill you in a little bit: EVERY SINGLE PIECE of military hardware depends on rolling element bearings because it contains them, or because the equipment required to manufacture it contains them.
The defense for a nuclear armed power in a...”real”...shooting war goes something like this: if that invasion force moves 1 mile closer from where it sits right now, a nuclear weapon will vaporize the force. That’s a military target. Now how do they respond? Attack a city? Attack a military target? After their military force was attacked because of aggression, are they willing to retaliate on a civilian target and risk a civilian target of its own?

Or perhaps a threat of, we see your advancing force. Every ten minutes it’s continued movement is detected, you will lose a population center of 10,000,000 or more people.

Or you know, unrestrained war fare entirely.

Ball bearings? Rolling element bearings? Yeah....
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