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Old 05-28-2020, 10:40 PM
 
Location: NYC
16,385 posts, read 10,583,780 times
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Decades ago, there were people that work as appliance repair that will go out to fix your TV, stereo, vaccum cleaner, etc. Because made in America electronics were worth fixing and can last for a long time if repaired and wasn't cheap and disposable like today. I remember a 20" Color TV was like $1000 in the 80s and that was like $4000 in today's money. If you gotten a RCA 20" Color TV those days it can last 30+ years. Unlike today's cheap LCD TVs most don't last more 5 years before burning up or dying.

I think the problem with manufacturing in US isn't just wages, it's regulations and total cost of compensation. In China, there's no such thing as paying overtime, vacation, or sick pay. These were union fought benefits for Americans. Basically in China, there isn't strict labor law so you have millions of low cost migrant workers that will make everything for less $2-3/hr.

What makes cheap labor work in China because the government ensures inflation doesn't go out of control such as food, health care, and mass transit are all affordable. Unlike in America everybody has to own a car to travel. US government doesn't do that, it expects the private sector to pull the weight and only support the poor to keep them from raising their pitchforks.
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Old 05-28-2020, 11:26 PM
 
1,010 posts, read 595,956 times
Reputation: 1554
Environmental regulations. US environment versus manufacturing and the environment won. I was looking for glassware made in the US and learned that most glass manufacturers left the US after the last round of environmental regulations because it was just too expensive to upgrade all the equipment to comply with those laws. China has an awful pollution problem because they manufacture everything and the toxic wastes from those processes are not restricted the way they are in the US. A long while ago - that choice was made and perhaps we went overboard on our environmental restrictions and didn't weigh enough the long term economic consequences of not balancing manufacturing needs. Without Countries like China pulling their weight - eventually global warming affects the entire world - no matter how restrictive a particular Countries pollutant laws are anyway.
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Old 05-29-2020, 04:09 AM
 
Location: Western NY
665 posts, read 718,723 times
Reputation: 795
Quote:
Originally Posted by riffle View Post
Hey, by all means go lobby the Chinese and other countries to clean up their act. I'm just saying, duplicating the entire supply chain here in the States to serve 11% of the market wouldn't accomplish that.[...]

I'm not as confident in these figures, but it looks like students on temporary visas earned [...]
Well you couldn't have gone back to the slavery era in the USA and told the slaves to clean up their act, why don't they ask for better conditions and statements like that. It has to be the side that holds some power that stops wanting the abuses. The power we have is presumably from our still current ability to buy products that cost a lot of money, like the latest phones, but not sure how long that lasts with no good engineering jobs in US anyway. The abuses are labor, environment and much more.

Not sure on your educational stats will look at that aspect later. I am most familiar with private colleges and graduate schools. I realize now most of the rise in EE graduating stats you have is because there are far more government/state university engineering offerings today versus the past. I think any smart kid going into electrical engineering listens to the graduating class not getting jobs in EE (and they aren't) so they go study civil engineering if they still want to be an engineer, or they go to some other computer study where they do find jobs (no need for the full EE degree).
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Old 05-29-2020, 04:15 AM
 
Location: Western NY
665 posts, read 718,723 times
Reputation: 795
Quote:
Originally Posted by vision33r View Post
Decades ago, there were people that work as appliance repair that will go out to fix your TV, stereo, vaccum cleaner, etc. Because made in America electronics were worth fixing and can last for a long time if repaired and wasn't cheap and disposable like today. I remember a 20" Color TV was like $1000 in the 80s and that was like $4000 in today's money. If you gotten a RCA 20" Color TV those days it can last 30+ years. Unlike today's cheap LCD TVs most don't last more 5 years before burning up or dying.

I think the problem with manufacturing in US isn't just wages, it's regulations and total cost of compensation. In China, there's no such thing as paying overtime, vacation, or sick pay. These were union fought benefits for Americans. Basically in China, there isn't strict labor law so you have millions of low cost migrant workers that will make everything for less $2-3/hr.

What makes cheap labor work in China because the government ensures inflation doesn't go out of control such as food, health care, and mass transit are all affordable. Unlike in America everybody has to own a car to travel. US government doesn't do that, it expects the private sector to pull the weight and only support the poor to keep them from raising their pitchforks.

When I go to stores there are always products with all kinds of logos bragging it was grown organically, or environmentally sound way, or dolphin safe tuna or any other thing that causes/caused issues. So when do we get Apple and other companies offering products with logos guaranteeing that labor was paid a fair wage equal to the US with overtime + sick pay + full retirement, or bragging super strict chemical spill checks+ environmental sound practices (with inspections) are done in all manufacturing facilities, or that their workers have the lowest cancer rates and lowest suicide rates in the world showing proof it was done with the workers health in mind? I would pay the extra $60 to buy a phone made in US where we have environmental laws, and employee laws. Hey Apple we need you to understand we want that, or some of us. Maybe Apple can offer two phones, a labor and environmental abuse phone, and one with guarantees of none of that for $60 more and made in US with engineers getting great salaries.

Last edited by TestEngr; 05-29-2020 at 04:42 AM..
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Old 05-29-2020, 04:42 AM
 
4,516 posts, read 3,907,405 times
Reputation: 10766
Quote:
Originally Posted by TestEngr View Post
When I go to stores there are always products with all kinds of logos bragging it was grown organically, or environmentally sound way, or dolphin safe tuna or any other thing that causes/caused issues. So when do we get Apple and other companies offering products with logos guaranteeing that labor was paid a fair wage equal to the US with overtime and sick pay, or bragging super strict chemical spill checks are done in all manufacturing facilities, or that their workers have the lowest cancer rates and lowest suicide rates in the world showing proof it was done with the workers health in mind? I would pay the extra $60 to buy a phone made in US where we have environmental laws, and employee laws. Hey Apple we need you to understand we want that, or some of us. Maybe Apple can offer two phones, a labor and environmental abuse phone, and one with guarantees of none of that for $60 more and made in US with engineers getting great salaries.
I think a lot of people would pay a trivial surcharge for ethically made products. There's a market for "fair trade" coffee, for example.

Apple bought a plant in Arizona a few years ago and tried to convert it to a display factory, but ran into obstacles and gave up on the project. I was unable to find out what exactly went wrong, but it had something to do with the quality of the work force.

It's pretty clear that our workers-- a blend of poorly educated immigrants (mostly from Latin America and Africa) and under-motivated locals -- don't match up to China's internal migrants.

Then there's China's authoritarian government which arrests union organizers and environmental activists. It's a perfect place for factories.

The way forward for the U.S. to get back into the manufacturing game is what the current government is doing: tariffing China, cutting business taxes and regulations, reining in environmental costs, appointing conservative judges, pushing school reform.

Unfortunately, the country is deeply divided, unable to unify behind these policies, so it's unclear how lasting of an effect they'll have.
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Old 05-29-2020, 05:41 AM
 
Location: Guadalajara, MX
7,492 posts, read 3,644,311 times
Reputation: 14295
Quote:
Originally Posted by vision33r View Post
Decades ago, there were people that work as appliance repair that will go out to fix your TV, stereo, vaccum cleaner, etc. Because made in America electronics were worth fixing and can last for a long time if repaired and wasn't cheap and disposable like today. I remember a 20" Color TV was like $1000 in the 80s and that was like $4000 in today's money. If you gotten a RCA 20" Color TV those days it can last 30+ years. Unlike today's cheap LCD TVs most don't last more 5 years before burning up or dying.
Being able to buy a new $500 flat screen TV every five years is a much better deal than the $4,000 piece of furniture TV.

We had one with fake wooden drawers on it, and when it finally broke we took the smaller 13" one from the kitchen and placed it on top of it. We rolled that way for at least another few years.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vision33r View Post
In China, there's no such thing as paying overtime, vacation, or sick pay.
You're stating something as fact here that you just made up because it sounds right, but it isn't. That's a bad habit.
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Old 05-29-2020, 06:35 AM
 
4,516 posts, read 3,907,405 times
Reputation: 10766
Quote:
Originally Posted by vision33r View Post
Decades ago, there were people that work as appliance repair that will go out to fix your TV, stereo, vaccum cleaner, etc. Because made in America electronics were worth fixing and can last for a long time if repaired and wasn't cheap and disposable like today. I remember a 20" Color TV was like $1000 in the 80s and that was like $4000 in today's money. If you gotten a RCA 20" Color TV those days it can last 30+ years. Unlike today's cheap LCD TVs most don't last more 5 years before burning up or dying.

I think the problem with manufacturing in US isn't just wages, it's regulations and total cost of compensation. In China, there's no such thing as paying overtime, vacation, or sick pay. These were union fought benefits for Americans. Basically in China, there isn't strict labor law so you have millions of low cost migrant workers that will make everything for less $2-3/hr.

What makes cheap labor work in China because the government ensures inflation doesn't go out of control such as food, health care, and mass transit are all affordable. Unlike in America everybody has to own a car to travel. US government doesn't do that, it expects the private sector to pull the weight and only support the poor to keep them from raising their pitchforks.
Quasar back in the '70s had a line of televisions with "Works in a Drawer": you could pop open this sliding tray and access all of the electronics, for easy repair.

Electronics have evolved to a throwaway approach, and it makes more sense now to upgrade every couple of years for cheap, than to invest a year's salary into a permanent fixture.

Regarding China's cost advantage: it's not just labor, which is a minor component of manufacturing except for heavily manual work such as apparel and shoe stitching and fitting. They also don't have the American system of lawsuits - they barely have a real legal system, frankly - and companies don't need a legal defense fund and massive liability insurance.

Liability has made it almost prohibitive for almost anyone to operate in the U.S.; Americans are highly litigious, and the ripple effect is that companies must cover their products with disclaimers and warnings, maintain an expensive legal department or keep law firms on retainer for inevitable lawsuits. Most suits are settled out of court, or are arbitrated, but this all costs money. At a certain point, it's not worth it.

Therefore, I believe tort reform and regulatory reform would do a lot to bring manufacturing back. We sacrifice people's right to sue and collect money from businesses for minor grievances, and in return we get more homegrown capability to manufacture, more blue collar jobs for high school grads, and a generally more prosperous and stable society, particularly for the bottom 25%. Sorry I've wandered off the topic of electronics again
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Old 05-29-2020, 07:27 AM
 
23,360 posts, read 16,075,092 times
Reputation: 16861
Quote:
Originally Posted by chattyneighbor View Post
Environmental regulations. US environment versus manufacturing and the environment won. I was looking for glassware made in the US and learned that most glass manufacturers left the US after the last round of environmental regulations because it was just too expensive to upgrade all the equipment to comply with those laws. China has an awful pollution problem because they manufacture everything and the toxic wastes from those processes are not restricted the way they are in the US. A long while ago - that choice was made and perhaps we went overboard on our environmental restrictions and didn't weigh enough the long term economic consequences of not balancing manufacturing needs. Without Countries like China pulling their weight - eventually global warming affects the entire world - no matter how restrictive a particular Countries pollutant laws are anyway.
Glad someone mentioned environmental regulations, because they played huge part in why all sorts of manufacturing left US shores.

Depending upon which side of fence one sits this could have been a good or bad thing. It is worth noting the huge number of former manufacturing plants, buildings, properties that are toxic or even super fund environmental sites. The ground and anything else including water is just that polluted from years or decades of dumping or leeching of toxic by products from manufacturing into soil.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Superfund_sites
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Old 05-29-2020, 07:35 AM
 
Location: Moving?!
503 posts, read 156,460 times
Reputation: 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by TestEngr View Post
Well you couldn't have gone back to the slavery era in the USA and told the slaves to clean up their act, why don't they ask for better conditions and statements like that. It has to be the side that holds some power that stops wanting the abuses. The power we have is presumably from our still current ability to buy products that cost a lot of money, like the latest phones, but not sure how long that lasts with no good engineering jobs in US anyway. The abuses are labor, environment and much more.

Not sure on your educational stats will look at that aspect later. I am most familiar with private colleges and graduate schools. I realize now most of the rise in EE graduating stats you have is because there are far more government/state university engineering offerings today versus the past. I think any smart kid going into electrical engineering listens to the graduating class not getting jobs in EE (and they aren't) so they go study civil engineering if they still want to be an engineer, or they go to some other computer study where they do find jobs (no need for the full EE degree).
Chinese consumers buy over twice as many smartphones as North American consumers. Do you contest this?

I'm not unsympathetic to concerns about the state of electronics manufacturing. I had an old made-in-Japan Fujitsu laptop, very well made. It held up a lot better than the model I replaced it with, also Fujitsu but probably manufactured by a Chinese ODM.

FYI, I graduated with a bachelor's in EE in the past decade. It was a great education for me and start to my career, and the same can be said for many of my classmates. There are opportunities in industrial controls, power systems, communications, and yes, software development in the part of the country where I live. Most of the electronics work seems to be defense or aerospace related around here. So that's my anecdote. I take the survey-based outcomes data for employment, starting salaries, etc. with a grain of salt, but don't think it confirms your doom-and-gloom position either.

You could investigate your hypothesis about private universities vs. public with IPEDS data. I don't know if there is a pre-digested report with that particular breakdown though.
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Old 05-29-2020, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Washington Park, Denver
8,082 posts, read 7,505,926 times
Reputation: 9105
Quote:
Originally Posted by TestEngr View Post
So for example, Motorola which had prototype cell phone like Apple released in the iphone, but instead chose to focus like you are thinking on the short term and production costs lets see what happened. Well, if I recall it was not Motorola who won that battle. If you see a Motorola phone today it is a Lenovo product, not connected to the US Motorola corporation, not made by Motorola, no profits today go to the remains of Motorola. By doing R&D, design and manufacturing here in the US, yes at great cost, you are on top of the field or at least were at one time, though you still can be. You can be first to market, you can lead, and one needs to lead in more than just making labels/stickers to put on a product. The way it is with a US label on a overseas product, yes it is cheap, but it is a downhill battle that is sure to be lost to an overseas product while people hate the cheap quality and poor performance. In some ways Apple putting some design here and manufacturing overseas mixes the model, but Apple isn't making new products mostly either. If you want to lead, do it in the US to win the long term. Always. But do it overseas if you like being cheap. Yes, you will be cheap and it looks good in short term only. You will lose though long run, maybe you make stickers to go on products I guess.
No no no.

Production costs alone don’t win the battle. Again, they are table stakes. If your cost basis is much higher than your competitors’ you can lose, but having production costs under control is only part of an overall winning strategy.

Apple has a great overall strategy AND keeps their production costs under control.
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