Felix Salmon writes The problem with the return of manufacturing:

Charles Fishman has an upbeat cover story in the new Atlantic, talking about how manufacturing is making its way back from China to America. As the world demands an ever-more nimble manufacturing sector, able to produce smaller quantities of goods more quickly, it makes sense to make those goods here rather than be forced to spend a month shipping them over from China, especially with shipping costs rising. On top of that, Chinese manufacturing costs are rising too: inputs from labor to natural gas are getting much more expensive. [...]

Fishman’s enthusiasm for bringing the designers closer to the means of production — it really does make for much more efficient assembly lines — means that he papers over the reality of what America’s new manufacturing-sector workers are being paid:

Appliance Park’s union was so fractious in the ’70s and ’80s that the place was known as “Strike City.” That same union agreed to a two-tier wage scale in 2005—and today, 70 percent of the jobs there are on the lower tier, which starts at just over $13.50 an hour, almost $8 less than what the starting wage used to be.

There’s a huge difference between $13.50 per hour and $21 per hour: the latter is something you can actually live on, something you can consider to be a career. The former is not. And that’s a problem, as Adam Davidson explains: the reason that people aren’t going to college to learn the skills needed on a modern manufacturing assembly line is simply that those skills aren’t valued highly enough. Even McDonald’s, where there were noisy strikes today, looks attractive in comparison. [...]

All of which means that there are two enormous problems with the story that manufacturing is returning to the US. That might be true, but (a) it’s not creating many jobs, and (b) the jobs it is creating are not the good jobs which people want to have for many years. Instead, they pay $15ish per hour, which is what teenage babysitters make in New York.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010Cancun: Modest Expectations:

A 12-day conference on climate change begins today in Cancun, Mexico. It's the 16th such conference since 1995. The consensus view? Don't expect any big breakthroughs in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps this is some kind of magical thinking. You know, if we don't raise our public expectations too high, maybe something remarkable will emerge by the time the delegates head for home.  

After the rotten outcome at the Copenhagen conference a year ago in which an anticipated comprehensive agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions was not reached, caution is certainly called for. Even if something major were to be achieved, whatever the Obama administration signs off on in Cancun is almost certain to be shot down in Washington given that Republican ranks in Congress are now overflowing with climate-change deniers. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has called climate change a hoax, was once viewed even by most of his own party as pretty much of a kook in this matter. A fair chunk of the elected GOP now apparently see him as a prophet.

So, 15 years after the process began, with predictions of dire consequences from climate change more dire than ever, small steps—so-called "building blocks"—are the best that can be hoped for. This myopia is so despite the prediction of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research that there will be a billion people who lose their homes because of climate change and 3 billion who lose access to clean drinking water supplies.

Tweet of the Day:

Mitt declined dessert at the White House lunch today and the President said, "Good, because I already drank your milkshake." #AwkwardLunch
@RafalcaRomney via web

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin looks at Medicare in the context of the "fiscal speed bump" negotiations. Wouldn't we be better off waiting until the picture becomes clearer on the projected savings from the ACA? Armando also weighs in on the speed bump nonsense. Also: the Fast Food Forward strikes in the New York area, and how they relate to the WalMart and Hostess strikes. Finally, a look at all the important stuff that somehow gets left out of newspaper coverage of the filibuster reform fight. You'll only get that here, on Daily Kos Radio!

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