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View Diary: Open thread for night owls: The end of labor—protecting workers from robots (140 comments)

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  •  Sure - because there are two ways to increase (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    basquebob, Mike Taylor, Aunt Pat

    productivity - automation and design - and three ways to reduce costs - automation, design and offshoring.

    US manufacturers in some cases have move capital equipment overseas along with jobs - people I worked with in Milwaukee supervised moving all of the production equipment for that company to Juarez.  More often, obsolete product lines have been shut down here and new product lines - often capital intensive - started offshore. So for example, Apple discontinues the original Apple II and Mac, and builds the new Macs, iMacs, iPhones, iPads and iTunes all in China. That's massive capital investment by an American company (or more likely a "subsidiary") - somewhere else. That phenomenon has been used to "prove" that no US jobs have been shipped overseas, when in fact entire product lines and jobs were discontinued here and new products lines that replaced them built offshore.

    Another thing that's been constant since the 70s and the conglomerate fad is consolidation. Domestic companies have facilities utilization far below 100%, so they buy or get bought out, combine operations, and now one of the two companies capital equipment is largely trashed, while the other gets more utilization (if the buyout isn't simply to eliminate a competitor, which happens too).

    There is supposedly a trend starting of manufacturing returning here. If it does, it will be so highly automated it creates few jobs, or else it will be at wages comparable to China. In the former case, you'll see a big upsurge in US capital spending, and corporations are sitting on capital in cash and equivalents - but a lot of automated equipment manufacturers do their manufacturing in China now, and the US machine tool industry died years ago.

    In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

    by badger on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 10:04:25 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

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