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A. Lange & Söhne is a German watchmaker just of outside Dresden in Saxony. But Lange isn't any ordinary watchmaker of the Swiss sort. Correction: in some respects it is. I'm a lover of fine watches and have loved clockwork since I was a boy. Lange timepieces are some of the finest and most valuable in the world. The Lange name, like its Swiss competitors, is synonymous with extraordinary engineering and high quality.

I toured the factory during my trip to Germany and it was nothing short of extraordinary. I'd imagined, before visiting the Lange factory, that it would be like in the movies: the old men huddled over their magnifying glasses with their instruments in some dusty room full of old clocks. But the place I saw was much more like some sort of advanced NASA laboratory. The factory hummed, while all sorts of extremely focused looking engineers when about their work. There was a room called the Decorating Room where each component of a Lange watch is sculpted by a master artist, even the various tiny cogs and spring machinery that will never be seen unless the watch is dismantled. After a watch is built by hand that way, it is tested and then taken apart, then re-assembled and tested again. The tour guide who walked us through the factory beamed with pride at almost every stop. The firm touts, frequently, their pride in their product, their Saxon heritage, and the Lange place in the pantheon of German engineering.

In the world of concert pianos, the name Steinway & Sons is well-known. The factory in Queens is one most people think of when they think hand-crafted quality pianos. But for almost as long as Steinway pianos have been produced in New York City, there has also been a Steinway factory in Hamburg, Germany. Concert pianists often take preference between the two, some preferring the "New York Steinway" and others the "Hamburg Steinway." While the Steinway firm insists there is little more than aesthetic differences between the two, in both price and reputation the Hamburg Steinway has the edge. Used Hamburg Steinway concert grand pianos sold in the United States frequently sell for substantially more than brand new New York Steinways.

After my visit the Hamburg factory, it is easy to understand why. The careful approach to craftsmanship, attention to detail, and beaming pride with which the workers went about their tasks was nothing short of impressive. Like the Lange watches, each Hamburg Steinway concert grand is a unique hand-made instrument. Each individual piano bears its own distinctive sound and feel. Needless to say, these pianos are premium goods at premium prices, but buyers swear they are worth every penny. I've been to the basement in Steinway Hall on 57th Street and to the factory selection room in Queens. While every New York Steinway is very impressive, the Hamburg Steinways I heard were simply amazing.

Which brings me to the point of this story. There is a simple reason why Germany manufactures so many high-end goods, from the best watches to the finest grand pianos, all the way up to Porsches and highly complicated precision instruments: it is the policy of the German government.

Well, it isn't exactly a policy. It is more of a framework. Germany's method of creating wealth is straightforward: 1. Produce a highly educated workforce. 2. Have that workforce create and make advanced, precision things for high wages. 3. Export the things at a high price and then re-invest that money back into item 1. This is why Germany is the Number 2 exporter in the world despite having only 27 percent of America's population and only 6 percent of Number 1 exporter China. The Germans realize they cannot beat either China or India based on cost. Advanced nations can't compete on cost. America could bust all the unions, get rid of the minimum wage, eliminate all social benefits and taxation and we would still lose jobs to low-wage nations. Germany decided to avoid going down the same path of downward spiral among its middle class that we are in. Instead, they invest in their people and in research.

This stands in stark contrast to the America's current policy, which can basically be summed up as: 1. Let the market work by having government not interfere. 2. If the market doesn't work, give the market a bunch of public debt money. In short, America has no industrial policy or framework for future growth. Worse, many American officials don't want one. Whenever you bring up an American industrial policy, the first thing Republicans trot out is the old "don't pick winners and losers" shtick. The problem is that no policy at all does pick winners and losers. The winners will be financial speculators and others who can manipulate information faster than everyone else.

If America is going to grow and prosper, it has to make, build and export things around the world in far greater quantity than we do today. The information, finance and consumer economy, as we have seen, do not produce tangible wealth for the middle class. The first step toward making things again is having a government that makes heavy industry a priority over banking.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:00 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Face it. US in serious decline.Teabag policy BAD! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChemBob, unclebucky, LillithMc, BusyinCA

      Teabagger/Repub policy will only worsen our world position.

      •  The problem (7+ / 0-)

        is that those who rule over us, don't give a shit if the majority of americans starve or live in poverty.  They don't care.  As long as they get to rape the economy and live high, the rest of the country can go to hell.

        THAT'S why there's no industrial policy.

        Gotta fix that before any rational argument is going to get traction.

      •  It was Clinton that deregulated the banks, and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        flowerfarmer

        passed NAFTA and the WTO.  It was Democrats that passed one bad trade deal after another.   If you don't know who's destroying our manufacturing base, how can you fix it?  It was Clinton who said that those "high wage" manufacturing jobs that paid the bills and supported a family were going to be replaced by jobs in the "service" sector.  We told the Fed that nobody wanted a job that requires them to say, "do you want fries with that?" at minimum wage.   If we are ever going to fix this country we need to stop the loyalty oaths.  The same 30% on both sides that hate/love Obama and their party right or wrong is what is wrong with this country.   It was Democrats and Republicans that destroyed our jobs and our economy, and it is still Democrats and Republicans that are continuing to destroy them.  Bi-partisanship for the sake of bi-partisanship is also as foolish.  This country needs new goals and none of them require anyone to be a yes man.

        What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

        by dkmich on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 02:37:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  and it is Obama who (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dkmich, Matthew D Jones

          has already introduced the Korea free trade agreement and will soon introduce free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia. And in addition he's been making noises that he wants to re-start the Dohan Process again, to try to expand WTO's jurisdiction.

          When it comes to free trade, there is absolutely no difference between the policies of HW Bush, Clinton and Obama.

          The one who WAS different, oddly enough, was Dubya, who rejected the very idea of WTO, tried to defy it several times (and lost), and then tried to do various unsuccessful end runs around it--the neocons reject international bodies of any sort and tried to assert unilateral American economic control. It failed miserably (even the American corporations vehemently opposed it), and I doubt any Prez, Dem or Repug, will be dumb enough to try it again for a long while.

          •  Oh but, (0+ / 0-)

            Obama went to India and begged them to give us a few of our jobs back.  Instead of a sovereign nation in charge of its own destiny, our President thinks he's an economic developer who has to bribe companies with cash to locate in his country.  He demeaned himself and the office, imo.   Greedy multi-nationals and their politicians are ripping us off; and until we stop them, we will have nothing but their debt.  

            What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

            by dkmich on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 03:16:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  qwerty (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TomFromNJ
              'Obama went to India and begged them to give us a few of our jobs back.'

              That's a sinister way to phrase it, dkmich.

              Obama went to India to make deals that would secure an additional $10-15 bn US exports to India, which come on top of an already relatively balanced trade exchange between India, and the $40 bn US exports deals signed during Sec. Clinton's visit to India in 2009. Now that's a realistic description.

              •  I am a cynic. Too old for a lot of optimism. (0+ / 0-)

                Hat in hand did not lend him or the office any stature.
                He doesn't need to make deals. Those were our jobs to begin with, and if they want to do business in this country, they will ________________.  It's also a sign that he believes in a system that isn't doing this country any favors.  Is this or isn't it a sovereign nation?  

                What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

                by dkmich on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 02:26:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  I like your tag line (0+ / 0-)

              Perhaps what needs to be said to Obama:

              We need a Democrat in the White House.

              You can be that Democrat, or we will find someone else. Please reply in 3, 2, 1...

              Ugh. --UB.

    •  Achingly true! (0+ / 0-)

      The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

      by magnetics on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 11:39:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good points but... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, IM, BachFan, Boreal Ecologist, jck, BusyinCA

    ...what are the public policy solutions? Some are well known...the public investment in firms like BMW (long term) and Opel (during crisis. What about other things? Do you have suggestions? China is probably number 1 exporter now, and Germany 2.

    •  Per person ? (0+ / 0-)

      "brutes have risen to power, but they lie!" Charlie Chaplin

      by indycam on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:07:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As I wrote below (0+ / 0-)

      much of the difference isn't political.  You could try to address it through politics, but you won't be as efficient as they are.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:02:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Respect for workers helps. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM, TomFromNJ

      For example, Germany still has apprenticeships (ausbildung), and not just for trades, but also in the "new" economy. German companies over a certin size are required to hire apprentices, and these can be in any area - sales, IT, HR, distribution etc.

      Usually, young people who left school with minimum qualifications, they are paid below minimum wage, but perform jobs assisting other people and learning as they go. Often they are hired into full time positions at the end of their apprenticeship. In any event, they learn about the discipline of holding down a full time job, how to interact and behave in a work environment, which gives then an edge even when applying for a job at Mac Donalds.

      "your existence arose from a popcorn fart out of nobodies ass." - 2dimeshift

      by senilebiker on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 03:49:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And also ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IM, senilebiker

        ... during the time of apprenticeship (which lasts 2 to 3 years), at least one day a week they attend a "Berufsschule" (some kind of job-related college), where they get educated on general issues as well as a theoretical background for their type of profession.

        Wherever You Go, There You Are - Jon Kabat-Zinn

        by cs on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 04:40:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a commonly-made argument (32+ / 0-)

    But it is wrong.  America has an industrial policy: weapons!  America provides huge support for companies that manufacture weapons for fighting the Soviet Union!  

    In fact, it's never-ending support, since previous generation weapons can be exported, at which point, wanting to stay two generations ahead, bidding is opened for the new generation.

    Now, you might say that all this support for weapons manufacturing hasn't made America win its wars or prosper.  But it does constitute an industrial policy.

    •  I'd never though of it that way, but you're right (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, theran, barbwires, ChemBob

      A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

      by bushondrugs on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:27:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wish you hadn't printed that. (not really) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BusyinCA

      America has an industrial policy: weapons!

      It's not untrue but fits so perfectly into the worried meme that any state legislator who has a piece of the MIC in his/her state has to cater to...or else massive job losses, loss of Federal corporate welfare  military contracts

      The MIC does provide a huge chuck of our industrial base, but it's no good if it squeezes out or detracts from a much more modern diversified economy.  Renewable energies research and development just for a major starter.  
      Plus war products only? Were good for guns but there is a whole lot more to life.

      It's the whole self perpetuating war game.

      Which little boy didn't grow up with a six shooter cap gun & if you were "rich" a holster & cowboy hat. Next G.I. Joe.

      American

      War

      This is the way ths GOP would have it forever imo

      I don't want your country back..I want my country forward - Bill Maher

      by Eric Nelson on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 09:24:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Germany depends demand from abroad (9+ / 0-)

    What happens if the EU can't afford the goods due to austerity and the U.S. economy reminds anemic as far as an export economy like Germany is concerned?

    Both Germany and China are hoping that the U.S. or EU countries reminds as a source of demand. What happens as that shifts?

    •  A ray of intelect shines through.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, bushondrugs, BusyinCA

      Why do people want to work their butts off to supply stuff to people in another part of the world????  Nutty.

    •  China is hoping that India (8+ / 0-)

      and China itself will, as newly-emerged wealthy consumer-oriented nations, be able to provide that demand.  After all, China and India are the two most populous nations (and the two largest markets) on the planet.

      •  Neither of which are demand driven (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob, Richard Lyon, JeffW, bushondrugs

        economics. They are export driven. So is Germany. that may change. But that's the reality right now.

        •  not yet (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IM, Annalize5

          Once they reach levels of wealth comparable to the US and Europe, however, that will change.

          Germany has already saturated its consumer market (which is one reason why German companies had to start seeking outside markets in the 1980's).  China and India have not.  They've not even begun.

          Within a very few years, though, they will dominate the entire global consumer economy.

            •  what will stop them? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Annalize5

              China is already the second-largest economy in the world, an achievement made in less than a generation.

              It is as inevitable as the driven snow.

              •  it doesn't enough internal demand (0+ / 0-)

                what you are describing is largely a product of size rather than a product of growth.

                At any rate my point is that there all these export powerhouses.

                I do think industrial policy is a good idea, but not necessarily just toward becoming an export power house because then you need to find someone to service that demand need.

                You are still not focused necessarily on sustainable economic activity.

                Don't ask me what is sustainable because frankly I don't k now.

                •  it doesn't have enough internal demand NOW (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Annalize5

                  because it is still a very poor country.

                  In a few decades, though, it will no longer be a very poor country.

                  And its demand for consumer products will outstrip ours.

                  Is that sustainable? Nope, it sure isn't.

                  Will it happen anyway?  Yep, it sure will. They're not going to ask for our permission.  (shrug)

                  •  i am not making a value judgment (0+ / 0-)

                    I am simply pointing out the problem in assuming that china will be able to do what you describe.

                  •  China is successful right now (0+ / 0-)

                    because of external demand.

                    If China's internal demand is strong enough to drive their economy, then it raises the question of why they needed to position themselves as the worlds exporter. If internal demand is not strong enough to support their economy, then as labor becomes more expensive, they will be less competitive as an exporter, and they will have a significant recession.

                    •  its demand is low NOW (0+ / 0-)

                      In a few decades, as China becomes more wealthy, its internal market will grow.  And it won't be very long before it's the second-largest consumer, as it is now the second-largest producer.

                      •  As China becomes more wealthy, (0+ / 0-)

                        They become less of an exporter, which puts a damper on their growth.

                        It remains to be seen if China's wealth is in a positive feedback loop and is self sustaining. If they can thrive without a constant stream of dollars from exports, then they will become a modern nation, but I think its not guaranteed at this point.

                        •  I'm not sure how this is so: (0+ / 0-)

                          As China becomes more wealthy, They become less of an exporter, which puts a damper on their growth.

                          As China becomes more wealthy, it becomes the single largest market in the world--plenty to keep its industries humming for decades to meet that internal demand. And of course the fact that China's internal market grows is no reason whatever why its external markets have to be dropped.  China has already been growing at the highest rate in the world. I see no reason for that to change in the future. They still have plenty of room for expanded demand, and expanded production to meet that demand.

                          As for this:

                          It remains to be seen if China's wealth is in a positive feedback loop and is self sustaining. If they can thrive without a constant stream of dollars from exports, then they will become a modern nation, but I think its not guaranteed at this point.

                          That is not exclusive with China--every nation on the planet is now utterly dependent upon exports. The multinationals saturated their own home markets wayy back in the 80's, which is why they all started moving international to begin with. No nation, not even the big wealthy US, can survive solely on its own domestic market.

                          That is one of the primary reasons why the corporados went global to begin with.

                          The thing is, of course, that inevitably they will saturate that global market as well, and find themselves with nowhere else to expand.  What are they going to do then--build another planet?

                          That will be a fatal problem for them.

                          •  As China becomes more wealthy, wages rise (0+ / 0-)

                            If wages rise, a lot of the foreign investment operations (businesses with manufacturing operations in China, but headquartered elsewhere) will move on to the next cheaper place to do business. These foreign investments represent a very large portion of the current Chinese growth.

                            Some of China's growth is artificial (brand new empty cities built for no reason), and the growth is also propped up by an artificial currency exchange rate.

        •  India's economy isn't an exports-driven one (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IM
          like the economies and China and some other Asian countries' are. India's recent growth is from an internal expansion.
    •  This is the flaw (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bruh1, BachFan

      in their thinking.  They cannot consume what they produce.  Much of their export growth is a result of a Euro that is much lower than the old D-mark would be.

      When I was there two weeks ago, they were worrying that they were in a bubble that was unsustainable, since their consumers will not be able to afford their exports.

      Their banks are also much more leveraged than American Banks are, but that is another story, though it explains much about the Ireland bailout.

      Anyone who works with them knows this, though : they are awesome at attention to detail. And in my experience smart as hell.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:07:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  indeed that is the problem worldwide (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        Up until the 70's, corporations were all national--they were located in one country or region and they produced almost entirely for that country or region.

        By the 809's, however, these national corporations had become so large that they saturated their own markets--and were forced to look elsewhere for markets. They went international.

        The result was whole-scale economic warfare in the 80's that destroyed many corporations, as national corporations fell one after another to the internationals.

        The WTO free trade framework is precisely the attempt by the surviving multinationals to prevent that sort of economic warfare from happening again, by setting up a rules-based system that everyone follows, giving every corporation free access to every market, without any corporation having any privileged or protected position.

        The corporate vision of "democracy".

        That is why today even most American corporations are implacably opposed to American protectionist measures, opposing even things such as the "Buy American" provisions that Obama placed in the Stimulus Bill". The American corporations know that they were lucky to survive the multinational wars, and they are absolutely opposed to risking their necks like that again.

  •  I have never understood the (28+ / 0-)

    ongoing policy in America. Export the manufacturing jobs so that little or nothing is made here anymore. The remaining service, financial and entertainment sectors cannot generate enough income for people to pay their taxes, so government is deeper and deeper in the red. Borrow from the countries you gave the manufacturing jobs away to keep the government running, and slowly allow the infrastructure to break until it is nearly impossible to fix. Cut spending to the point of what? No highway money? No airport support? This drowning government in the bathtub thing will take more than the American worker with it. I don't think those fat old men in DC realize this.

    •  makes you wonder (13+ / 0-)

      how it can be so obvious and generate so little attention.

    •  because (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      American companies have grown too large.

      Break up some of the large ones in the US and see what happens.

      "The only person sure of himself is the man who wishes to leave things as they are, and he dreams of an impossibility" -George M. Wrong.

      by statsone on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:57:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's easy. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, JeffW, Egalitare

      We are a wealthy nation.

      Exporting that wealth rapidly, while taking a margin is no different than exploiting any other natural resource.

      Oil, coal, people...

      That's it.  They get rich, we lose our standard of living, and you hear great stories about the "velocity of money".

      Just remember, when that phrase is used, it's your future leaving rapidly so they get more dollars today.

      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT. #opengeekorg

      by potatohead on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:02:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's easy to understand. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChemBob, unclebucky, LillithMc, crose

      The Republicans, with some Dems, hate the U.S. Government as it existed for about one half of the previous century. As such, they are actively working to destroy that government for the wealth class; i.e.-Ownership Society.

      This isn't an accident, what's happening to this country. It's a plan that has been executed damn near flawlessly by the oligarchs who have despised the New Deal since the day it began. They took their time, came up with a plan to dismantle our country from the inside out and like frogs placed into a pot to be boiled, the American people, at least a enough of them, have bought into their BS as pedaled on Faux News and even CMSM outlets.

      By placing the right people in the right place, they've been able to purchase the U.S. Government and now the U.S. Government merely serves to pass laws that mostly institute their hold on power. Short of revolution, things won't be changing anytime soon.

      The sleep of reason produces monsters.

      by Alumbrados on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:45:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alumbrados

        I know this in my heart and I am in a state of steady depression about it. My life isn't bad, but the lives of so many people are bad and will get worse, and the environment will get worse and the ecosystems will collapse, and people will starve or die of thirst because they have no way to pay for the food and water they need. Of course the population will plummet and the oligarchs will have no one to make their goods for them or mow their lawns but they can't see that.

  •  I must disagree (6+ / 0-)

    An excerpt from my diary series on the history of corporations, on this point:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    One argument that is often coupled with anti-immigration sentiments is that we need to “rebuild our high-wage manufacturing industries”, and reduce our dependence on low-paying service-sector jobs (the kind of jobs that are most often taken by immigrants). TV pundit Thom Hartmann says, “Since we moved from a manufacturing to a service economy under Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush we’ve seen manufacturing fall from about a quarter of our economy to only 11 percent of it.  That means we no longer make anything of value here.  Without making things, we don’t create true wealth—we just move money around.” The National Association of Manufacturers echoes, “A strong, efficient and innovative U.S. manufacturing base is essential to our country’s economic future in a competitive world environment. . . . America’s prosperity and strength are built on a foundation of manufacturing.” And the      AFL-CIO concludes, “Companies are sending well-paying manufacturing and service jobs to countries with few, if any, protections for workers and the environment. And these jobs are probably not coming back. . . . Manufacturing jobs traditionally have provided high wages and good benefits that allow workers to care for their families. But 2.5 million manufacturing jobs have disappeared since President Bush took office in early 2001. Multinational corporations are transferring jobs to countries where workers earn low wages and have few or no protections. . . . Manufacturing job loss starts the downward spiral. The loss of good manufacturing jobs has ripped apart communities and permanently lowered living standards for families throughout the United States.”

    Such arguments are in essence justifications for protectionist policies towards America’s declining heavy manufacturing, part of the alliance between declining industries and declining labor unions. They fail to acknowledge that the shrinking manufacturing sector is an inevitable fact of ordinary economic development, and it cannot be stopped or reversed.

    In early human history, most people were farmers, because farming was so inefficient that it took huge amounts of resources to produce enough food for everyone.  As machinery and chemical technology developed, however, farms became capable of producing more and more yield while utilizing fewer and fewer people. Today, therefore, farmers make up less than ten percent of our population, and because of technology and more efficient uses of labor, that ten percent produces more than enough to feed everybody.

    The same process is now happening with manufacturing. Manufacturing used to take up a majority of our population, because it was so inefficient that it required that many people to produce everything.  Now, however, that is no longer true. With technological progress and improved efficiency of labor, manufacturing, like farming, now requires only a tiny part of our population, which is able to produce several times as much output now as it did in the past with much larger workforces.

    As soon as manufacturing (just like farming) required only a small portion of our population, the majority of us became service-sector employees instead (just as in the past the large portion of the labor force that was pushed off the farms by machinery became part of the manufacturing sector instead, by taking factory jobs). And the very same thing is now already happening to the service sector—automation and technological advances mean that the same amount of work can be done by continually fewer and fewer people, and as the service sector becomes more efficient in its use of labor, the number of people employed in that sector continually goes down. Soon, the service sector, like manufacturing and farming, will also require only a small part of the population.

    Those who defend heavy industry as “providing good-paying jobs” are making a mistaken assumption. Manufacturing is, in reality, not inherently any more high-wage than any other industry—it is only high-wage in the US because in the past, when manufacturing was the largest part of the labor force, we had a strong union movement in that sector that made it high-wage, against the active opposition of the corporate bosses.  In areas today where there is no such strong union movement (such as China), manufacturing positions are still low-wage bad-working-condition dead-end jobs, just like service-sector fast food jobs are here.

    The low-wage service sector jobs here, of course, are not inherently low-wage either. They could be transformed into high-wage good-working-condition jobs in the very same way that manufacturing jobs were in the past—with a strong union movement.

    In a global economy where there are no national economies or national companies anymore, and where multinational corporations are free to move around the global chessboard as they please, the very idea of a "national" industrial policy, is simply meaningless.  Already, the US has over half its productive capacity located outside the US (and outside the reach of the US government).

    The multinationals care neither for nations or for national borders.  They are far beyond that now.

    They are international, and the only effective way to control them is at the international level. And so, alas, any "solution" that is based on "national" policies, is inherently doomed to failure.  We no longer live in a world of nations.

    •  Very interesting post. Thanks. what is the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, Krush, strangedemocracy, hmi

      solution?

      "People don't eat in the long run-- they eat every day." Harry Hopkins (who ran FDR's FERA program)

      by hester on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:27:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  having an industrial policy for the U.S. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        Great minds do not think alike.

        by Krush on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:35:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  here's the solution I see: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ybruti, JeffW, strangedemocracy

        We can no longer effectively fight corporate power at the national level. It’s not the corporate domination of national governments that is the source of their power over us anymore—it’s the formation of their own private unelected and unaccountable world government. The national level simply is no longer where they exercise their dominant power; they live at the supra-national level, and they are all alone there. The supra-national corporations no longer gain their power merely through their control of the national government.  They have now moved far beyond that. And therefore so must we if we want to fight them.

        The entire world, whether it’s the US, France, Poland, Swaziland, New Zealand, Pakistan, or Belize, is now fighting the very same                  mega-corporations and corporate interests. If we fight them together, we can win. If we fight them one nation at a time, we will lose. As Ben Franklin told the thirteen colonies in the face of the mighty British Empire, either we join to fight them together, or we all die.  

        Fair Trade Provisions

        As we have seen, some sections of the progressive movement are already working to unify the anti-corporate forces at the international level—the “fair trade” movement seeks to form global alliances of environmental, human rights, and other grassroots citizen groups, in an effort to force the inclusion of provisions into trade agreements guaranteeing effective ecological and human protection. Such laws cannot be effectively won at the national level, however—in places where that has been attempted, the WTO has swiftly stepped in and vetoed the “restriction on free trade”. In response, progressive organizations have therefore been forced to focus on international efforts which seek to alter the global trade rules themselves.

        So far, only one international effort has been able to successfully take on the entire global WTO structure and beat it to a standstill—the G20+ bloc. From the point of view of progressivism, of course, the G20+ coalition’s successful derailing of the Dohan Process is but a hollow victory, since the members of that alliance are the wealthy elite of the developing nations who are merely defending their own selfish economic interests, and their interests often have little to do with the democratic interests of their own people. The G20+ delegates don’t want stronger labor or environmental regulations—they are just as eager as the corporations to maintain low-wage unregulated business climates. What the global fair trade movement must do is duplicate the ability of the G20+ group to unify globally around a common program, but towards democratic goals rather than in the interests of the economic elites. The collapse of the Dohan Process proved that the supra-nationals can be beaten. It is now up to the people of the world to beat them.

        An International Labor Movement?
        A necessarily crucial part of any effective global movement to beat the supra-national corporations must be the international labor union. The ultimate source of all corporate profits (from which they derive all their power) is the workplace—and every workplace has workers whose interests necessarily conflict with those of corporate profits. Workplace safety, the right to organize, better pay and conditions—all of these things can only be effectively fought for from inside the workplace. And that is the role of the labor union.

        As we have seen, the American labor movement threw its lot in with an alliance with the corporations, to defend corporate profits through protectionism and hostile opposition to “foreigners”. The result has been utter disaster.

        It is easy to see the root of the American labor movement’s mistake. The AFL-CIO is still wedded to its patriotic flag-waving for “American workers” at the expense of all the rest of the workers in the world, and has ignored a basic truth about the wage-based market economy—the owners are in business to make money for themselves, not for their workers. Boss will always go where it is cheapest. If workers in the United States are paid X for a job, and workers in Indonesia or China are paid one-tenth X, then Boss will move his factory there every time. Any wage gains we are able to make within the US will disappear promptly, as the corporations simply move those jobs to low-wage havens like China or Mexico. If we want to keep our jobs here, therefore, we are reduced to two choices—either we raise their wages to match ours, or we lower our wages to match theirs.

        The American unions tried a third way—they wanted to use protectionist measures to both keep our wages high and keep foreign wages low. It was an abject (and predictable) failure.

        The American labor movement forgot completely what the word “solidarity” means.  Or at least what the word “whipsawing” means.

        There is only one way to prevent whipsawing, and that is to organize the workers everywhere. The entire idea of a nation-based labor movement is now outmoded, ineffective and obsolete. In a corporate world, we must instead become company-based rather than geographically-based. In a world made up of multi-national companies who owe loyalty to no government and have no nation, there simply is no such thing anymore as an “American worker” or a “Chinese worker” or a “Somali worker”. There are only “Ford workers” or “Honda workers” or “British Petroleum workers”—and they all do the same work for the same employer and have the same interests, whether their factory happens to be located in Tennessee, Tibet or Timbuktu. And if a Ford worker in Detroit gets X dollars an hour to do a job, then a Ford worker in China or Thailand had better be getting the same X dollars an hour for doing the same job—because if he's not, then guess where the factory will be going?

        It’s an elementary lesson that the American unions ignored. Instead of organizing all Ford or US Steel workers across the world to face their common employer, the unions have ignored foreign employees completely or even treated them as enemies; instead of raising the foreign wages to match ours, the AFL-CIO preferred to work with its corporate “partners” to pass protectionist laws to keep them away. So the American labor movement bears a large part of the blame for its current situation. By fighting for “American workers” and allowing workers in other countries to be reduced to virtual slavery, the AFL-CIO guaranteed that every boss in the US would move his factories overseas to the cheap labor.

        What the labor movement must do instead is to follow the companies wherever they go, to any country, and organize all the workers there. One company, one union, one contract, one wage scale—no matter where you are. That cannot happen until American workers give up their attachment to outdated nationalism. The only way the corporate bosses can be beaten is if all their workers stick together, organize together, and fight together, no matter what country they happen to be located in. That is what “solidarity” means.

        It used to be that “workers of the world, unite!” was just an idealistic political slogan.  Today, it is our only survival strategy.

        •  Interesting. How do you propose to equalize (0+ / 0-)

          pay in nations with vastly different wage scales. How do you pay someone here working on a Ford the same wage as a worker in Brazil? or anywhere else?

          "People don't eat in the long run-- they eat every day." Harry Hopkins (who ran FDR's FERA program)

          by hester on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:52:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  the same way we pay (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            unclebucky

            a Ford worker in Tennessee the same as we pay a Detroit Ford workers.

            Will raising the pay of Ford workers in Mexico or China entice other Mexican or Chinese workers to raise THEIR pay too?  I certainly hope so.

            •  How can we do the other side of the equation? (0+ / 0-)

              Lenny, That is, we want to raise wages and thereby reduce profits to corporations. They won't stand for that, ya know.

              But the other side of the equation is to find ways to reduce costs to workers, such as health insurance, transportation, education, food, entertainment, clothing, healthcare, rent, water, cable, phone, internet, garbage, etc. And that also impinges on profits of corporations.

              Seems to me that not just on one side, but on both sides of the personal economic situation are screwed by corporations taking control beyond that which people and governments can control.

              Thx. --UB.

              •  keep in mind that wages are not (0+ / 0-)

                determined by the "free market"--they are determined by the ability and willingness of workers to fight for them.

                Wages in the auto and steel industries didn't go up sharply in the 1930's because the impersonal invisible hand of the free market decreed it----wages went up because workers organized unions, seized the plants, and forced those industries to raise wages whether they liked it or not.  There's a lesson in there somewhere.

                One side benefit to international unions which raise the wages of foreign workers in corporate jobs, as I see it, is that it also gives incentive to all the other workers there in other industries to organize and fight for higher wages too, thereby making everyone better off (everyone except the boss's profits--and of course I don't give a damn about his profits).

        •  Its not currently the case (0+ / 0-)

          and we are not at the upper end of the wage and benefits scale.  Not at the lower end either but someplace in the middle.

          Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

          by barbwires on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:09:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  quite a drop, isn't it (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Annalize5

            I'm not sure what you think will stop the downward wage spiral. Particularly since American workers are now competing, price-wise, with workers who are being paid two cups of rice per day.

            Please explain why you think any large company wouldn voluntarily pay its American workers more, when it can just pack up the whole plant and move it to Somalia or Bangladesh and make tons more money by paying its workers shit.

            You expect them to stay here  . .  why? . . . Out of the goodness of their heart?  Out of their flag-waving patriotism? Out of humanitarian desire to give us all good-paying jobs?

            The boss's wallet wins every time.  And the boss's wallet demands that the jobs all move where it's cheapest.

        •  Another misreading of the power of both... (0+ / 0-)

          governments and corporations, labor unions have about as much chance of globalizing as workers in "right to work" states have of getting a decent union job. Unions can't even get "card check" passed in the United States with a Democratic Party in charge of the House, Senate and White House. You believe that China and Somalia are going to institute labor relations laws that disadvantage the multi-nationals you claim are all powerful and mobile. Even the EU doesn't enforce uniform labor standards on its own members.

          Nations can change policy and change the direction of labor and trade flows, they just have to have governments that champion their own people, and not corporations and the wealthy investor class. The WTO, GATT, IMF and World Bank are all creatures of the "Washington Consensus". We created this economic mess and we can change it, we can restrict movement of goods, capital and companies, if we want to, we can protect the American people, if we want to, the question is, do we want to?

          "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

          by KJG52 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:24:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  of course all through the 20's companies declared (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, unclebucky

            that the workers "will never organize".

            Then came the 30's.

            If the corporations want to make that same bet today, they are welcome to.  I think they will be . . . surprised.

            •  We are not even powerful enough to unionize... (0+ / 0-)

              the majority of workers in the United States, and you're talking about unionizing the world. Dream On, this isn't the '20's or "30's this is now and you're concepts are self defeating and utopian nonsense that if followed by workers will destroy them. There is no international cultural bias towards Western trade unionism. There aren't even democratic legal frameworks to institute such unions within countries like those in most of the emerging markets and undeveloped world. This is just a fairy tale used as a smoke screen to support oligarchy with some nascent international unionization phantasm born in the globalization cloud cuckoo land.

              "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

              by KJG52 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:52:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  China is not Somalia. (0+ / 0-)

            China has a strong central government, a strong industrial & economic policy, strong high tech & R&D sectors, and an educated population with a strong work ethic.

            Somalia has no effective government to speak of, local rule by corrupt warlords and organized crime, and zilch in terms of R&D and education. Somalia is a failed state, a corpse of a country whose population is being picked over by vultures.   No sane company would try to set up a factory or even a call center in Somalia, it would be destroyed within months.  

        •  Excellently stated. n/t (0+ / 0-)

          "It's hell to pay when the fiddler stops." ~Leonard Cohen

          by Annalize5 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:55:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  OK, that's constructive. (0+ / 0-)

          Minus the first sentence which is more emotional defeatism.  

          We can take on these fuckers and win, by truly international labor organizing.  

          One company / One union, is a viable proposal.  

          Now to get the various union heads to start down the path.  

          One nasty little problem though: subcontractors.  Each multinational has oodles of companies that work for it one way or another.   Some of those companies produce goods/services for more than one major corporation.  For example a call center in India takes calls for Verizon and Dell.  Now who gets to organize them, the Verizon union or the Dell union?  

          •  that is not the little problem (0+ / 0-)

            One nasty little problem though: subcontractors.  Each multinational has oodles of companies that work for it one way or another.   Some of those companies produce goods/services for more than one major corporation.  For example a call center in India takes calls for Verizon and Dell.  Now who gets to organize them, the Verizon union or the Dell union?  

            That is a simple jurisdictional dispute that can be settled in an afternoon meeting.

            The real little problem is that current national unions have zero interest in organizing foreign workers, and prefer to treat them as enemies instead. And as long as that remains true, we will get absolutely nowhere.

            So that is where the effort needs to be for now.

    •  Sorry. But I disagree strongly. (0+ / 0-)

      And do not mistake me.  I am NOT a union man.  I AM a nationalist and an isolationist and in that particular arena I am akin to a "states rights" sort of fellow.  I believe that sovereignties are the replacement for unions. National Health care and improved Social Security are the "benefits" in the sovereign "company".  Tariffs are the only way to go.  And when enforced by Quantitative Easing we have a national policy that works for the USA.  China and India can suck eggs.

      •  about tariffs: (0+ / 0-)

        Tariffs

        A favorite tactic utilized by protectionists is the punitive tariff. Tariffs are surcharges that are added to the price of cheap imports in order to artificially raise their selling price to match those of more expensive domestic products.

        As the global economy declined in 2008-2010, calls for protective tariffs became increasingly common from both Democrats and Republicans, even those who had formerly supported tariff-free “free trade”, as a measure to “help the American economy”. In 2009, Obama, bowing to pressure from the United Auto Workers union, imposed a 35% tariff on imported Chinese tires, which had captured about 17% of the US market. Some American tariffs actually double or even triple the price of particular imported products; the American synthetic-textile clothing industry is protected by a 32% tariff, most imported automobile parts have a 25% surcharge, imported sneakers and sport shoes pay a 48% tariff, some European meats and cheeses pay a 100% import tax, and the American tobacco industry is protected by a whopping 350% tariff. In 2010, the House passed, with heavy bipartisan support, a bill empowering the Commerce Department to impose a new round of tariffs as retaliation for China’s policy of manipulating its currency to keep the value of the yuan artificially low and thereby make Chinese imports cheaper for other nations.

        The whole intent of the WTO’s free trade framework is, of course, to eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers, and WTO has the authority to unilaterally invalidate protective tariffs passed by any member nation. The WTO agreement, however, does not cover all areas of trade, and the WTO does not have any jurisdiction over tariffs in economic areas that fall outside of those covered by GATT.

        Even in areas where the WTO cannot invalidate a trade barrier, however, it is unlikely that protective tariffs will actually play any effective role.

        Tariffs can be justified in certain cases. For decades, small nations in the developing world suffered as predatory corporations, most of them American, dominated their economy, crushed domestic industries, and turned the country into a virtual economic colony—and tariffs were seen as one weapon to gain economic independence. The “Asian Tigers” (Singapore, Korea, Taiwan), for instance, used tariffs to protect their infant industries until they were strong enough to compete in the world market and become economic powers in their own right. Developing nations in particular are still anxious to utilize protective tariffs to protect their small-scale farmers who are incapable of competing with the heavily-subsidized American and European agribusinesses (though the developing nations would prefer instead that the wealthy economies stop subsidizing large agribusinesses and drop their own protective tariffs against the small farmers in poorer countries). In cases where smaller and weaker economies are protecting themselves from larger and wealthier ones, tariffs may indeed have a progressive role to play.

        Most tariffs, however, have the purpose of protecting those large wealthy industries from competition by cheaper products in developing nations—not of protecting the weak from the strong, but of protecting the strong from the weak. The American industries with the loudest calls for protective tariffs—steel, textiles and auto parts—are formerly-huge rich industries who now face the stiffest competition from younger foreign companies. I.e., they are industries who are desperate to protect their formerly privileged position. Not coincidentally, they are also industries who still have large and politically-powerful labor unions.

        As the furor over the “Buy American” provision in the Stimulus Bill demonstrated, however, most corporations still reject protectionism and embrace the free-trade framework, making it difficult for the US to pass protective trade barriers. American corporations opposed tariffs not only because they did not want to  re-ignite the destructive trade wars of the 80’s, but also because most American corporations now had large portions of their productive capacity located overseas. For instance, at least 60% of all the products exported to other countries from China actually came from companies that are owned by Americans, Europeans or Japanese. Critics point out that tariffs to keep out cheap imported Chinese products are pointless when it is American companies themselves who are making and importing them. The American corporations do not want tariff “protection” from low-wage unregulated Chinese products—they are the ones who have been flocking to China to make them, and they want to be able to continue importing them back into the US as cheaply as possible.

        Other critics point out that measures to “protect American industry” are useless in a global economy where there are no “American industries” anymore. As American-based corporations move productive capacity overseas, the “foreign” corporations are locating more and more of their factories in the US. When the US used tariffs and import quotas in the 1980’s to try to keep Japanese cars out of the American market, Toyota and Honda responded by simply moving their factories here—today, most of the Japanese cars sold in America are actually manufactured within the US. In 2009, the German steel industry responded similarly to protectionist sentiments in the US by building a huge production plant in Alabama.

        Finally, progressive critics point out that protective tariffs don’t help American workers, and don’t help workers in developing countries either. Although tariffs raise the prices of imported goods, they don’t raise anyone’s wages, including those of the American workers they are supposed to be “protecting”. Indeed, by artificially raising prices and denying consumers access to cheaper imported products, tariffs actually hurt American workers by forcing them to pay more for products that they could otherwise get less expensively, thereby pushing their purchasing power even lower and decreasing their real wages. And, since the indigenous workers in developing countries do not get any of the money from the increased price of their product, they continue in the same low-wage poverty as before. The situation helps no one except the particular American corporations whose profits are being artificially protected.

      •  in this case . . . (0+ / 0-)

        I AM a nationalist and an isolationist

        you have already lost.  The nation-based world you are defending, simply no longer exists.  The multinational corporations have killed it.  (shrug)

      •  qwerty (0+ / 0-)
        'China and India can suck eggs.'

        US and India share a small and relatively balanced trade relationship. Please see the table/chart
        here.

    •  So why couldn't the policy include tax (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      components that would keep jobs here and be an outsource target for international corporations? A policy is not simply the President asserting a goal. It is composed of goals and the means to attain them.

      Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

      by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:31:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  because of several reasons (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream

        First and most unavoidably, it would violate WTO rules and would be ruled invalid (the WTO has literal veto power over any nation's laws which violate "free trade", including tariffs and taxes).

        Second, corporations can simply pull up stakes and move elsewhere to avoid any such tax, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop them.

        And third, the American corporations themselves would oppose any such protectionism, so it would never pass. When Obama tried to insert a "Buy American" provision into the Stimulus Bill, the most vociferous and effective opposition to it came from American corporations. They don't WANT protection from "foreign products"--in many cases, they are the ones who own those "foreign companies". "Protecting America from imports" is an utterly pointless thing when those imports come from our own companies.

        American companies don't WANT to keep jobs here.  That's why they moved to China in the first place.

        •  You do realize that the WTO could be (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          defanged with a one-sentence statement by the President, right?

          "As of today, I am withdrawing the united States from the WTO and GATT."

          Boom.

          Done.

          Congress has no power to overrule the President in this, and no international body could do jack shit.  Presidents have unilateral authority to cancel treaties ratified by Congress.

          The Constitution provides no mechanism for review of such a decision by any other branch of government. Granted, Congress would have to enact legislation to institute any tariff, but the penalties from the relevant international organizations could be dispensed with in a single press conference.

          The WTO (as with any international organization) only has such powers as the member states give it.

          --Shannon

          "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
          "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

          by Leftie Gunner on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:54:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  suicide (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            IM

            The US simply isn't strong enough to wage economic warfare against the rest of the world.

            And indeed even the American-owned corporations would fight such a move to the death.  They depend on WTO just as much as every other nation's corporations do. That's why the most vicious opposition to Obama's "Buy American" provision in the Stimulus Bill came from American corporations themselves. They don't want protectionism.

            So unilaterally withdrawing from WTO is a nice nationalistic pipe dream, but reality is different.

            •  Not relevant. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, Egalitare

              The primary objection you raised is what the WTO could do in retaliation, if the United States went back to a sane trade policy.

              They could do nothing.

              The absence of the United States would doom the WTO experiment instantly. Remember that the other major member powers still have tariffs in place, and the WTO hasn't been able to do shit.

              That's because their governments realize that they still have all the power, unless they choose to surrender it to international institutions.

              They've made that choice. We haven't.

              The simple fact that the United States has lost money on every single free trade deal we've ever made makes this point perfectly clear... unilateral disarmament is always a bad deal for the stronger power, whether in economics or warfare.

              I want the government of the United States to make decisions that are in the best interest of the United States. Other countries have their own governments, who should do likewise. It's not the job of my employees (representatives) to look out for the interests of other people.

              I think that your ideological hatred of nation-states is narrowing your vision. They have always existed, and are not going away. If our own government doesn't figure this out, we will be crushed when the world-wide penduluum swings back to the nationalist side.

              We're already seeing the beginnings of this shift in Europe... the most anti-nationalist region in the world for the last 50 years.

              Fukuyama and Freidmann were wrong... and so are you.

              --Shannon

              "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
              "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

              by Leftie Gunner on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:16:46 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  you are quite wrong (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                IM

                The Dubya-ites tried to do an end run around WTO and form a nationalistic trade policy.  They were cvut off at the knees.

                The US no longer has the power, either economically or militarily, to dictate terms to the rest of the world. Even our own corporations would oppose any such effort.

                It's a fight the US simply will not win.  Which is why it has never even dared try---it has instead meekly submitted to every WTO ruling that has gone against it.  It has no realistic choice.

                The tough "go-it-alone" talk may swell out our patriotic chests, but is is just a pipe dream. The US government can't even beat the corporations to get a decent health care system.  The idea that we can successfully fight a global trade war against them, is laughable. Our own corporations would not even support us.

                •  They don't have the guns. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek, annieli

                  Ultimately, it all comes down to power.

                  And power ultimately comes down to the ability to kill.

                  The only reason that multinational corporations have anything like the power you suggest that they have (and it's nowhere near that great... we're not living in William Gibson's world yet) is that some nation-states (mostly us) have given them that power.

                  If we took it away, backed up with actual physical force, they couldn't do a fucking thing. There isn't an executive or an employee at any company on Earth who would die for his corporation.

                  Not one.

                  They know that, which is why they've spent 40 years convincing people that they are far more powerful than they actually are.

                  It seems to have worked, in your case.

                  --Shannon

                  "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                  "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                  by Leftie Gunner on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:43:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  pffft (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    senilebiker

                    We can't even invade Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations on the planet, unless China agrees to pay for it.

                    And you want to wage military war against our own corporations?

                    Good luck with that.  (shrug)

                    •  no, just threaten them and stand up to them. (0+ / 0-)

                      The way to deal with a bully is to make it crystal clear that if they so much as raise a fist, you're going to deck them and send them to the hospital.  

                      That makes them run away with their tails between their legs.  

                      And one thing these corporations do not have at their disposal, is military force.  Even Blackwater/Xe is no match for the US military, and if they want to start it, we're going to finish it, and the leaders of it are going to be sent to prison for insurrection and terrorism.  

                      So stop spreading despair and start growing some vertebrae.  

                      •  too funny (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        senilebiker

                        you're seriously advocating the use of military force against corporations?  Seriously and truly?

                        I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

                        •  sure, if they try something. (0+ / 0-)

                          Scenario:  

                          Progressive president does (whatever) and pisses of the oligarchs.  The oligarchs go into physical revolt mode, using Blackwater/Xe as their army.  

                          Progressive president declares national emergency, uses special powers obtained during Bush era to circumvent Posse Comitatus laws, and unleashes the US military against Blackwater.

                          A tense standoff ensues with both sides' fingers itching near their triggers.  After an overflight by a squadron of Air Force bombers, the Blackwater commander surrenders and is taken into custody.   He's put on trial for insurrection, terrorist threats, conspiracy to commit murder, or whatever charges are relevant, and sentenced to the maximum prison term available under law.

                          Meanwhile the oligarchs who put him up to it are rounded up by the FBI and also put up on charges, and they too end up spending the rest of their lives staring at interior decorating in the Concrete Moderne style.  

                          That having been done, it's on to making policy.  

                          See, the thing about dealing with bullies is, if you can demonstrate that you're willing, ready, and able to send them to the hospital, they will back down and run away.  

                          •  btw, we don't need guns--we have something more (0+ / 0-)

                            powerful. Not a single machine in any corporate factory turns unless one of us turns it.

                            Consider that simple fact for a moment.

                            The corporations may have huge global empires flung to the corners of the world. They may be able to pack up and move to avoid or evade any national laws they don't like, with impunity. But one thing that they absolutely CAN'T evade or avoid is their own workers.  Here we have a relatively small group of people who can, simply by sitting down and crossing their arms, bring an entire multinational corporate behemoth to a sudden crashing halt, shutting down all its factories, everywhere on the planet, simultaneously, and KEEPING them shut down until they get what they want. No other group of people anywhere in the world has that ability.

                            THAT, my friend, is more powerful than any army. After all, the corporados can shoot us to DEATH, but they can't shoot us to WORK.

                          •  Jeez - why does everything in the US (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Detlef

                            have to be about guns and weapons and shit.

                            You guys are destined to swirl down the toilet of history if you don't learn to use your brains instead of bullets.

                            Go back to the diary and ask yourself what it was about.

                            "your existence arose from a popcorn fart out of nobodies ass." - 2dimeshift

                            by senilebiker on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 04:19:47 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

          •  Nice, let's do it. (0+ / 0-)

            A truly progressive president would announce, upon taking office, that the US was going to withdraw from WTO unilaterally unless thorough ecological, labor, and human rights provisions were enacted into it globally within a year.  

            Force the process and make it work, or throw it out.  

            •  that might work if the US were still the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek

              unilateral world power. But it's not. And of course the US has no interest (neither Dems nor Repugs) in doing any such thing.

              That is why we will have to organize internationally and force not solely the US, but a wide coalition of many nations (following the example of the G20+bloc) to do this.

              Mere national organizing within the US, is no longer good enough.

          •  Maybe not so simple, but... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            annieli

            ...pretty close to a load-bearing structure. Why does WTO "gut" our Middle Class, but not Germany's - or Canada's, Sweden's etc.?

            Because those countries have managed to (for now) broadly institutionalize shared prosperity using a range of policies and other "tools" in their "societal/cultural toolbox."

            One "tool" is that it is generally "wronger" to concentrate wealth without some benefit to average citizens. Taxes, work rules, focused industrial policies: it's not just one thing.

            But some of it starts with not allowing piles of cash to sit around doing nothing (for broader society) but being admired without some very negative consequences. Because it seems to me we are suffering some very negative consequences allowing the Money Changers of any Nationality to lobby our governments at all levels to create rules that benefit overwhelmingly them with little to no return for most of us.

            "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." -- Frederick Douglass

            by Egalitare on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 02:37:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  FUCK THE WTO. (0+ / 0-)

          O-U-T.  

      •  There are tax policies (0+ / 0-)

        that would stop forcing both US and foreign companies from to avoid operations in the US beyond sales and marketing that would still fit WTO rules.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:57:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  if there are, we've not found them yet (0+ / 0-)

          ;)

          And of course, the American corporations themselves would oppose any such step---they are staunch backers of the entire WTO framework.  And since we can't even pass a decent health care plan in the face of coprorate opposition, I have my doubts that we'll be able to pass any taxes or economic plans that they don't want and don't like.

          That, by the way, is the most ironic failure of the entire protectionist program---our own corporations, the very thing that we are supposed to be "protecting"--don't want it, won't support it, and have already opposed it.

    •  This is very nice sophistry, but without the ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM, James Allen

      policy of "globalization" created by the US and Europe in order to benefit a world oligarchy with no capital restraints or regulatory standards, while exporting the dirtiest manufacturing jobs and most hazardous resource extraction practices to the 3rd world, there wouldn't be the lack of "solutions based on national policy." This whole line of argument is based on neoliberal economic theories as dogmatic and theological as a Papal Bull or Maoist tract, there are no natural points of progress in economies only policies. Change the policy and the economy responds, incentives and externalities batter economies and move them, not "inevitable progress". Policy, preference, innovation and markets drive economics not dogma or descriptions, if we change our policy our economy will change.

      "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

      by KJG52 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:39:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  alas we no longer control our own economic policy (0+ / 0-)

        No country does.  The multinationals and WTO do, and they care for no nation.

        The entire idea of "national economic policies" is irrelevant. The economy simply is no longer based on nation-states. When Ford has over half its productive capacity located outside the USA, it no longer gives a damn what "American national economic policy" is.

        The world is now an utterly different place than it was just 15 years ago.  All the old solutions, are no longer relevant.  The very idea of nation-states is now a dead relic of the 20th century.

        The corporados have already recognized that new reality. We must too.

        •  This is not true, governments trump companies... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          James Allen

          not the other way round. It is the policy of governments that support global organizations like the WTO, several countries, Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China to name a few have significant policy controls that inhibit the movement of capital and control of economic activity. America refuses to do this because it mistakenly chooses to support policies that are detrimental to its people, not as a response to ineffable global change, the belief that we cannot change our economic and political direction is simply wrongheaded and incorrect.

          "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

          by KJG52 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:00:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  not true at all (0+ / 0-)

            WTO has legal veto power over US laws that affect "fair trade".  Period.

            Just two examples---two of the WTO's very first rulings, invalidated US laws.  One struck down a provision in the US Clean Air Act, and the other struck down a portion of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

            WTO's veto power over any national law is exercised by an unelected panel that meets in secret and whose decisions are not subject to appeal.

            The idea that nations still have economic "sovereignty", is a mere illusion.

            •  so what do you propose? (0+ / 0-)

              Armed revolt?

              Or just "lie back and enjoy it"?

              •  didn't read the diary series, did you. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                IM

                Here's what I propose:

                we can no longer effectively fight corporate power at the national level. It’s not the corporate domination of national governments that is the source of their power over us anymore—it’s the formation of their own private unelected and unaccountable world government. The national level simply is no longer where they exercise their dominant power; they live at the supra-national level, and they are all alone there. The supra-national corporations no longer gain their power merely through their control of the national government.  They have now moved far beyond that. And therefore so must we if we want to fight them.

                The entire world, whether it’s the US, France, Poland, Swaziland, New Zealand, Pakistan, or Belize, is now fighting the very same                  mega-corporations and corporate interests. If we fight them together, we can win. If we fight them one nation at a time, we will lose. As Ben Franklin told the thirteen colonies in the face of the mighty British Empire, either we join to fight them together, or we all die.  

                Fair Trade Provisions

                As we have seen, some sections of the progressive movement are already working to unify the anti-corporate forces at the international level—the “fair trade” movement seeks to form global alliances of environmental, human rights, and other grassroots citizen groups, in an effort to force the inclusion of provisions into trade agreements guaranteeing effective ecological and human protection. Such laws cannot be effectively won at the national level, however—in places where that has been attempted, the WTO has swiftly stepped in and vetoed the “restriction on free trade”. In response, progressive organizations have therefore been forced to focus on international efforts which seek to alter the global trade rules themselves.

                So far, only one international effort has been able to successfully take on the entire global WTO structure and beat it to a standstill—the G20+ bloc. From the point of view of progressivism, of course, the G20+ coalition’s successful derailing of the Dohan Process is but a hollow victory, since the members of that alliance are the wealthy elite of the developing nations who are merely defending their own selfish economic interests, and their interests often have little to do with the democratic interests of their own people. The G20+ delegates don’t want stronger labor or environmental regulations—they are just as eager as the corporations to maintain low-wage unregulated business climates. What the global fair trade movement must do is duplicate the ability of the G20+ group to unify globally around a common program, but towards democratic goals rather than in the interests of the economic elites. The collapse of the Dohan Process proved that the supra-nationals can be beaten. It is now up to the people of the world to beat them.

                An International Labor Movement?

                A necessarily crucial part of any effective global movement to beat the supra-national corporations must be the international labor union. The ultimate source of all corporate profits (from which they derive all their power) is the workplace—and every workplace has workers whose interests necessarily conflict with those of corporate profits. Workplace safety, the right to organize, better pay and conditions—all of these things can only be effectively fought for from inside the workplace. And that is the role of the labor union.

                As we have seen, the American labor movement threw its lot in with an alliance with the corporations, to defend corporate profits through protectionism and hostile opposition to “foreigners”. The result has been utter disaster.

                It is easy to see the root of the American labor movement’s mistake. The AFL-CIO is still wedded to its patriotic flag-waving for “American workers” at the expense of all the rest of the workers in the world, and has ignored a basic truth about the wage-based market economy—the owners are in business to make money for themselves, not for their workers. Boss will always go where it is cheapest. If workers in the United States are paid X for a job, and workers in Indonesia or China are paid one-tenth X, then Boss will move his factory there every time. Any wage gains we are able to make within the US will disappear promptly, as the corporations simply move those jobs to low-wage havens like China or Mexico. If we want to keep our jobs here, therefore, we are reduced to two choices—either we raise their wages to match ours, or we lower our wages to match theirs.

                The American unions tried a third way—they wanted to use protectionist measures to both keep our wages high and keep foreign wages low. It was an abject (and predictable) failure.

                The American labor movement forgot completely what the word “solidarity” means.  Or at least what the word “whipsawing” means.

                There is only one way to prevent whipsawing, and that is to organize the workers everywhere. The entire idea of a nation-based labor movement is now outmoded, ineffective and obsolete. In a corporate world, we must instead become company-based rather than geographically-based. In a world made up of multi-national companies who owe loyalty to no government and have no nation, there simply is no such thing anymore as an “American worker” or a “Chinese worker” or a “Somali worker”. There are only “Ford workers” or “Honda workers” or “British Petroleum workers”—and they all do the same work for the same employer and have the same interests, whether their factory happens to be located in Tennessee, Tibet or Timbuktu. And if a Ford worker in Detroit gets X dollars an hour to do a job, then a Ford worker in China or Thailand had better be getting the same X dollars an hour for doing the same job—because if he's not, then guess where the factory will be going?

                It’s an elementary lesson that the American unions ignored. Instead of organizing all Ford or US Steel workers across the world to face their common employer, the unions have ignored foreign employees completely or even treated them as enemies; instead of raising the foreign wages to match ours, the AFL-CIO preferred to work with its corporate “partners” to pass protectionist laws to keep them away. So the American labor movement bears a large part of the blame for its current situation. By fighting for “American workers” and allowing workers in other countries to be reduced to virtual slavery, the AFL-CIO guaranteed that every boss in the US would move his factories overseas to the cheap labor.

                What the labor movement must do instead is to follow the companies wherever they go, to any country, and organize all the workers there. One company, one union, one contract, one wage scale—no matter where you are. That cannot happen until American workers give up their attachment to outdated nationalism. The only way the corporate bosses can be beaten is if all their workers stick together, organize together, and fight together, no matter what country they happen to be located in. That is what “solidarity” means.

                It used to be that “workers of the world, unite!” was just an idealistic political slogan.  Today, it is our only survival strategy.

                •  no, I didn't read the friggin' series. (0+ / 0-)

                  It's unrealistic and frankly a bit presumptuous to expect people to read not just another diary, but a whole other series before commenting in a given diary.  

                  Relevant points can be summarized and links provided.

                   

          •  this, by the way, will end soon (0+ / 0-)

            It is the policy of governments that support global organizations like the WTO, several countries, Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China to name a few have significant policy controls that inhibit the movement of capital and control of economic activity.

            WTO, with the support of all the wealthy nations, has already drawn up rules to regulate the finance sectors of the economy (that occurred even before the 2008 crash). They were scheduled for implementation as part of the Dohan Process, but were unexpectedly stopped by a voting bloc within WTO (the G20+) who objected not to the regulation of finance (they were in favor of that), but to the unwillingness of the wealthy nations to remove their agribusiness subsidies. The whole process therefore deadlocked.

            Obama has already given recent indications that he intends to renew the Dohan Process and reintroduce the effort to impose WTO regulations (or more correctly removal of regulations) on the global financial sector.

            So the policy controls you cite, are only temporary. They will be dead in a few years.

            •  The only reason that the WTO even exists is (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jim P, flowerfarmer, Egalitare

              that the US and Europe championed it and the latest Colombia round collapsed out of more than an argument over agricultural subsidies. The international dream world you're arguing for is just paper and it can be dismantled as quickly as it was erected. The US corporate oligarchy uses it to mask power and profit taking, while manipulatimg the few in the public who even know about the WTO with this "we're powerless" because of the "global trade system" meme, like we didn't create it.

              We have torn up treaties before, we have changed international trade before and if enough pressure is placed in the right quarters we can again. The internationalist utopia you seem to be championing is a dream world, "Utopia" means "no place", if you can't organize one country and keep it on the road to social progress, how do you think you're going to organize the whole world? This is nonsense, utopian drivel and a ridiculous waste of time, ask the Comintern, oh right, they don't exist anymore...  

              "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

              by KJG52 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:37:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  alas and alack! oh despair! oh misery! boohoo! (0+ / 0-)

          Why are you spending so much time in this diary trying to convince us that we are totally powerless in the face of the corporate oligarchy, eh?

          Why are you going around spreading despair, depression, hopelessness, and apathy?

          Smells pretty trollish to me.  

          •  too funny (0+ / 0-)

            I suggest you read the diary series I cited.  Then you'll realize how foolish you sound.

            But if we're going to fight the multinationals, we have to do it effectively.  And fighting them at the mere national level is no longer effective--it's not the level they now live at. They now live (and exercise their power) at the international level. So we must follow them there.

            •  your point about fighting internationally.... (0+ / 0-)

              .... is a valid one, so I'll retract my insinuations that you're a Republican spy.

              However, the emotion-words you use are identical with those that would be used by Republican spies and trolls to sew the seeds of despair and defeatism.

              You need to learn a few things about how human minds work.  Americans are majorly ignorant on that count, and there is frankly no excuse for progressive organizers to be so ignorant of psychology as to go around using language that creates the preconditions for defeat.  

    •  disagree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM, G2geek, flowerfarmer

      manufacturing industries is more important than just the "high paying jobs."

      When you have a strong manufacturing base, you also have the support industries that go along with it. Then there is the R&D. And so on.

      Now that China has become a large manufacturer, the innovation will come from Chinese companies.  And they will grow along with the new products.

      "The only person sure of himself is the man who wishes to leave things as they are, and he dreams of an impossibility" -George M. Wrong.

      by statsone on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:01:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tell germany that. (4+ / 0-)

      They manage theirs very well.  What they do is insure that Germany doesn't suffer a loss for the globalization.  They use regulation to insure that their big companies get as big as they want, and make as much as they want, but they also take care of the Germans.

      This is true in a lot of nations.

      We are the stupid ones, because we have been led to believe there are free markets.

      Free markets do not exist anywhere in the world.  All markets have rules, and where there are not many rules, the people get fucked.

      Where there are rules, the people are taken care of.

      It comes down to whether or not we want to continue to sell our future for fat quarterly profits today.

      Globalization has absolutely nothing to do with this question.  If we set the rules such that our demand for goods and services must be met at a price that doesn't lower the nations standard of living, that price will be met.

      Whether it happens in china, or domestically doesn't matter all that much.

      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT. #opengeekorg

      by potatohead on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:06:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting post. Last I looked though (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM, G2geek, Egalitare, James Allen

      the nations still have the guns and the judges, and the entire population of the Corporate Elite is in the range of 2 or 3 divisions of, mainly, fat old white men.

      I'm not sure why we have to surrender to the internationalists. Was it your series where I read about how British East India Company was, finally, just dissolved by the British government?

      There's all sorts of rule-making nations can apply if they wanted to break up the internationals. That the rules of nations are invested and bought is a big problem, but not an insurmountable one.

      Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

      by Jim P on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:44:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  what to do about that: (0+ / 0-)

      When technology reduces the number of hours of labor needed to produce a product, return some of that gain to workers in the form of a decreased work week.

      In the mid 20th century, the promise was that technology would lead to a 4-day work week.

      We know what happened to that: most families now need 2 full time wage earners to keep their noses above the water line: a 10-day work week or more.  

      So where did the additional 6 person/days of productivity go...?

      And what are WE going to do to take it back?

    •  lazy. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM, G2geek, flowerfarmer

      First of all, this is lazy:

      Such arguments are in essence justifications for protectionist policies towards America’s declining heavy manufacturing, part of the alliance between declining industries and declining labor unions. They fail to acknowledge that the shrinking manufacturing sector is an inevitable fact of ordinary economic development, and it cannot be stopped or reversed.

      The notion that something is inevitable, or cannot be reversed, is a sign of either intellectual laziness or a lack of imagination, which is probably also just intellectual laziness.  "Things just are and alas, there's no changing them."

      Of course there's another way.  These things like globalization are the result of policy choices that were made in the past and can be undone.  No international organization or multinational corporation has power over the government.  Nations are still sovereign, last I checked, and have the monopoly on legitimate use of force.

      "Intolerance is something which belongs to the religions we have rejected." - J.J. Rousseau

      by James Allen on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 12:16:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you are quite wrong (0+ / 0-)

        WTO does indeed have legal veto power, by treaty, over any national law that restricts "free trade".

        As an international body, two of its very first acts were to invalidate part of the US Clean Air Act, and to invalidate part of the Marin Mammal Protection Act.

        It does indeed have power over any sovereign government. Ours included.

        •  It only has what power we allow it to have. (0+ / 0-)

          Nothing can have power over a sovereign government.  Sovereignty is the peak of power.

          "Intolerance is something which belongs to the religions we have rejected." - J.J. Rousseau

          by James Allen on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 01:29:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  you are quite mistaken (0+ / 0-)

            Everyone who signed the WTO agreement, signed away their economic sovereignty. WTO not only has legal veto power over democratically-passed laws, but it exercises that veto power through unelected tribunals that meet in secret and whose decisions are unappealable.

            Welcome to the 21st century.

          •  I'm a little curious, though, as to who (0+ / 0-)

            you expect will actually try to fight it?  The Democratic Party? It was the Democratic leadership under Clinton that wrote the WTO agreement in the first place, and Obama is already making moves to expand it to areas of the economy like finance and agriculture. The American corporations? They're wildly in favor of the WTO structure, and have opposed protectionist efforts (indeed when Obama tried to insert a "Buy American" provision into the Stimulus Bill,it was American corporations who opposed it, and forced him to gut the provisions by declaring that nothing in the Stimulus Bill could be carried out in violation of WTO rules).

            So if you plan on fighting it through the US government, you'll be awfully lonely, I'm afraid.

            It's too late now to debate whether we should have WTO. All we can do now is force it to do what we want, instead of what the corporados want. And that cannot be done at the mere national level--neither the multinational corporations nor WTO care a fig about "nations". WTO can only be beaten the way G20+ did---by organizing internationally.

    •  Obvious, after one reads your article, but... (0+ / 0-)

      you needed to write that.

      Very nice.

      Thx. --UB.

  •  In our dreams.......... (6+ / 0-)

    As long as the U.S. maintains the myth of being "the land of opportunity" there will be no foresight, no strategic planning, no "investment" in the workforce, the industrial base or anything.  Our focus since 1980 has been profit, as much and as fast as possible and look out anyone who gets in the way.  

    'Nuff said.........

    Liberal = We're all in this together
    Conservative = Every man for himself
    Who you gonna call?

  •  Overt government policy (12+ / 0-)

    is sociamalism. Which is v.v. bad.

    Covert government policy promoted piecemeal by lobbyists is a successful market at work.

    "Be kind" - is that a religion?

    by ThatBritGuy on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:16:13 PM PST

  •  I disagree strongly about exports (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, G2geek, bushondrugs

    If the American middle class is to prosper then the American middle class needs to produce for the American middle class.  And if the American middle class MUST export it is important to figure out WHY and to fix THAT/THOSE problems. I wonder why the Germans WANT to work so much and loan everyone money so they can buy German stuff.  The Germans then get all bent out of shape over the fact that the people they loaned the money to can't pay it back.  The whole idea is stupid.  Why don't the Germans take more time off and relax while producing for Germans.

    The FACT is that the United States has to import too much oil.  That is about the ONLY thing we actually need to import.  Other than that we can produce all our own stuff and not have an unemployment problem.  This would mean a lot more stable economy and a lot less wealth disparity, and that is not a bad thing.

    Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are the solution.  NOT BETTER WATCHES.

    •  the very basis of your framework is wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Annalize5, Misterpuff

      There is no such thing anymore as an "American" economy or a "German" economy. The economy is globally interconnected so widely that there is no longer any such boundary.

      There are no more national economies. There are only multinational conglomerates who belong to no nation and answer to no government.

      •  right (5+ / 0-)

        but we could change that if we felt like it.  Aside from China and India, pretty much the entire rest of the world would be happy to chuck the "Washington Consensus."

        If we wanted to change it, most of the world would follow.

        Candidate Obama was right: When both parties serve the same side in the class war, voters may as well cling to guns and religion. Bitter since 2010.

        by happymisanthropy on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:33:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is YOU who are in error (5+ / 0-)

        The world is flat because YOU insist on making it that way.  Tariffs FIX these problems.  They ARE inefficient.  But they DO work.

        •  alas, tariffs are now irrelevant (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Annalize5

          WTO has outlawed them, and WTO is far more powerful than the US government is.

          The world you are defending, no longer exists.

          •  Not like your world (0+ / 0-)

            where we can successfully petition the WTO to enforce industry standards.

            Great minds do not think alike.

            by Krush on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:02:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  that is of course precisely what we NEED (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Annalize5, Krush

              Not like your world where we can successfully petition the WTO to enforce industry standards.

              That is precisely the aim of the global "Fair Trade Movement".  Since the international trade agreements have the power to override and veto any national laws, what we need is the ability to alter the international trade rules themselves, directly. So far, the only ones with the ability to do that are the G20+ bloc--and they are not on our side.

              But you are precisely correct--the ability to force fair trade standards (internaitonal minimum wage laws, international worker safety standards, international union rights) is exactly what we should be working towards.  

              That, of course, will require organization at the international level, not the mere national level.

              •  Its like you touch reality (0+ / 0-)

                every now and then.

                You are good writer though. Have you considered Science Fiction. The World you are describing does not exist, yet, but could. You would be an excellent sci-fi writer. I am not making fun off you. I wish I could write that way.

                Great minds do not think alike.

                by Krush on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:30:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't create reality, I (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Krush

                  only describe it.

                  I hate the international economic power structure probably more than you do.  But alas, what I want doesn't matter diddley doo, and I must recognize the reality. It's there, and we can't do anything at the national level to make it go away. Our own corporations are against it--and we can't even beat the corporations to get a decent health care plan. The very idea that we can beat them in an international economic fight, is laughable.

                  If we want to beat the corproations, we must become international like they are.  We have no other choice.

              •  While your over all assesment is right... (0+ / 0-)

                I don't see this ever, ever happening. :(

                force fair trade standards (internaitonal minimum wage laws, international worker safety standards, international union rights) is exactly what we should be working towards.

                "It's hell to pay when the fiddler stops." ~Leonard Cohen

                by Annalize5 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 09:00:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree somewhat. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob, G2geek, flowerfarmer

        You cannot say that there are no boundaries.  Clearly there are such big differences between nations.  Perhaps they are cultural boundaries, or policy boundaries, as the diarist suggests, but the relative lack of trade boundaries does not make you right and the diarist wrong.

        The governmental policies of the United States promote a competitive model of "cheaper" and faster, and we cannot compete on that playing field without devaluing our workforce.  The policies in Germany promote a competitive model based on "better."

        The United States is in a race to the bottom, unless we adopt healthier policies.

        A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

        by bushondrugs on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:36:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  We can produce all our own stuff, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Annalize5, Churchill, flowerfarmer

      and once did, but manufacturing corporations have decided that we won't anymore.

      Because they make more money making stuff in China than in Ohio.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:37:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  we can't any longer (0+ / 0-)

        Look around your house.  Anything in it that weighs more than two pounds, was made somewhere else.

        Our entire 21st century way of life is utterly dependent on making a product halfway around the world and shipping it here, more cheaply than we can make it here ourselves.

        We are all, whether we like it or not, utterly dependent on the global economy. Without it, we return to a 1950's level of economy.

        •  Not entirely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW

          my refrigerator, which I paid a lot for, was made in the US.  Since it gives me 50% or so energy savings over a ten year period, I was especially happy to pay the premium for a US made product.  My washer and dryer were made in the US also (Maytag, before it moved).  They are 16 years old and still work.  I am willing to pay a premium for longevity also.

          Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

          by barbwires on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:13:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I doubt it was (0+ / 0-)

            The steel probably came from Brazil, the electronics in it were designed in Costa Rica and made in Asia, the parts were most likely stamped in Japan or China.

            At best, it was "assembled" in the US from parts that came elsewhere.  But chances are that even though it's got an American name on the front, nothing in it was made in America.  Indeed, the American company that "produced" it, is probably partially owned by the Japanese, Chinese or Europeans.

    •  Tipped for thorium reactors. (0+ / 0-)

      The US has so much thorium that we can mine it with hand shovels and practically zero ecological impact.  

      Speaking of full employment, conversion to a thorium + renewables energy base would bring back so many middle class jobs it would practically be like the 1960s all over again.  

  •  it should be noted (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, NoMoreLies, JeffW, pickandshovel

    that Germany is one of the nations (the others being the UK and Japan) that have steadily been placing more and more of their productive capacity here (the German steel industry just opened a huge plant in Alabama, and the majority of Japanese cars sold in the US are made here). The reason for that is simple----Germany, Japan and the UK have very strong and powerful union movements--and we don't.  The US has been, over the past 30 years, transformed into a low-union low-wage low-regulation haven, and the high-wage high-union corporations are now utilizing us as a low-wage haven, in the same way that we have been utilizing China.

    Alas, the result of that for British, German and Japanese unions will be precisely the same as it was when we shipped all our union jobs to China.

    •  That depends (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob

      If we don't subsidize as heavily as China does, the outcome won't be the same.  

      Candidate Obama was right: When both parties serve the same side in the class war, voters may as well cling to guns and religion. Bitter since 2010.

      by happymisanthropy on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:35:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes...so simple (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      When looking at it from an establishment level.

      The ONLY reason to build a plant close to where you are selling things is 'UNIONS'!

      The only reason snow removal in New York was bad was 'UNIONS'.

      The reason health care for 9/11 responders was screwed up was UNIONS. (yes Rush fill-in blamed unions for the lack of health care for any 9/11 responders.)

      I'm sure you have data that these non-union cars are being shipped back overseas to Japan/Germany....

      It can't be that southern states give these car companies massive tax breaks as well as no strong union base that it makes it stupid for them to make the cars to be sold here than anywhere else.

      You haven't proved that BMW making their US products to be sold in the US has anything to do with a 'global economy'. It just means you read Thomas Friedman.

      The Germans wouldn't drink the swill we call beer. They wouldn't eat 'Wonder Bread'. But they sure as hell will build a plant here to sell us their products cheaper if our society is dumb enough to ignore the basic economics of a high-tech economic society (education/infrastructure/managment/etc).

      It is not sustainable (for us).

  •  We used to make our own textiles. We (10+ / 0-)

    had vertical mills (which manufactured the cloth from start to finish). Now they are all gone.

    25 years ago we manufactured 95% of our own clothing. Now it is 5%

    The same is true of many other industries.

    We have to make things that people need. Clothing. Building materials. Food.
    And on many scales. Large and small.

    "People don't eat in the long run-- they eat every day." Harry Hopkins (who ran FDR's FERA program)

    by hester on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:20:03 PM PST

  •  Great post! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    This is surely worth a conversation inside the Obama administration. There is nothing in there that even the greedy could argue with.

    Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:21:10 PM PST

  •  excellent diary. but pls write USA for America (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    the term "America" is great for moving rhetoric but not for discussions of international trade, very inaccurate. thanks for diary though

  •  Our oligarchs want to bring back company stores (5+ / 0-)

    and debtors' prisons, and our politicians want to help them.  Nice.

    "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage." - Confucius

    by IndieGuy on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:22:10 PM PST

  •  What an odd argument. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, theran, thm, green plum

    A. Lange & Sohn have been making (extremely expensive) watches for 150 years. Through right wing and left wing governments, a couple of Kaisers, a Fuhrer, and everything in between. I think they are a better example for someone writing an essay on why govt should stay out of the way, since good products sell whoever is in charge. You should have picked a company that got its start or owes its existence to some government policy.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:24:02 PM PST

    •  Or it's like writing an essay about Apple (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob

      and its general awesomeness.  So the conclusion is: be awesome?  America has Apple and Google and Goldman Sachs and Intel, etc. etc....

      In the "have really good organizations" department, America is doing fine.

      •  Apple's products are (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexasTom

        mostly manufactured overseas.

        A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

        by devtob on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:40:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

          •  So, this diary is about (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            barbwires, TexasTom, mightymouse

            encouraging real manufacturing of quality products in our country, for domestic and foreign markets.

            Not about innovations that are devised here, made in Asia, and sold here.

            We do have a serious, long-lasting unemployment crisis here, and it won't be resolved with service jobs.  

            A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

            by devtob on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:00:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Unemployment is high in Germany (0+ / 0-)

              Expensive (overpriced?) watches have not lead to what we used to call "full employment" there.  On the other hand, only a few years ago, we had 5% unemployment based on building Las Vegas and writing shitty mortgages.

              I am not buying this story.

            •  The innovation is the hard part. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              devtob

              And it is where the profits are. The manufacturing part has gotten to be the low-margin, low-value added part of the chain. Which is very bad for all workers, not just Americans. But it is great for college-educated people who are involved with the design and creation of products. You are underestimating the value we still bring to the picture.

              I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

              by doc2 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:24:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You're missing the point (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                devtob, IM, flowerfarmer

                Let's use Apple as an example.  The following is courtesy of Robert Reich:

                Consider one of most popular Christmas products of all time – Apple’s iPhone. Researchers from the Asian Development Bank Institute have dissected an iPhone whose wholesale price is around $179.00 to determine where the money actually goes.

                Some shows up in Apple’s profits, which are soaring.

                About $61 of the $179 price goes to Japanese workers who make key iPhone components, $30 to German workers who supply other pieces, and $23 to South Korean workers who provide still others. Around $6 goes to the Chinese workers who assemble it. Most of the rest goes to workers elsewhere around the globe who make other bits.

                Only about $11 of that iPhone goes to American workers, mostly researchers and designers.

                Robert Reich's blog

                Those vaunted researchers and designers at Apple HQ in California get less than 1/5 of what the Japanese workers who make the components get.  And about 1/3 of what workers in Germany make off of that same product.  So tell me exactly what the benefit to the US of having Apple based here is?  Because Americans aren't the ones earning salaries off of Apple -- we're fourth in line after Japan, Germany, and South Korea.  Big deal...

                And as for the profits coming to the US -- well, why should I give a crap about that?  Those profits go to a handful of people at the top of the economic pyramid, and don't benefit the broader population anyway.  Or are we all supposed to be grateful for the privilege of shining the shoes of the rich for whatever change "trickles down" to the rest of us?  And don't give us that line of crap about how they'll invest the profits here...because that breakdown shows how absolutely untrue that old line of bull is.

                (As an aside, I'm an engineer, so I certainly do respect the value of design and development work.  But the idea that we can sustain our economy off of that portion of the value chain when everything else is done overseas is just nonsense.  It's also destructive in that much entry level engineering work is production support -- and if the production is overseas, those jobs will be, as well.  Which means that the next generation of engineers is getting trained overseas.  In turn, that means that 20 years from now, the design work will be gone from the US, too.)

                Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

                by TexasTom on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 09:11:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  The vast majority of an Apple product... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran

          ... is its software, which is (I believe) still designed and written in Cupertino, CA.  The hardware is (I believe) also designed in Cupertino.  These represent the actual craftsmanship.  The manufactured hardware represents a small part of the value of the product.

          Big Joe Helton: "I pay Plenty."
          Chico Marx: "Well, then we're Plenty Tough."

          by Caelian on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:51:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bulls&#t (0+ / 0-)

            Robert Reich recently posted a breakdown of labor that goes into an iPhone (I copied it in another reply to this diary, just above).

            That research and development labor comes to $11 per iPhone out of the $179 wholesale price of the phone examined.  In comparison, $61 went to Japanese workers.

            So tell me, whose getting the better end of the deal?

            Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

            by TexasTom on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 09:14:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

              Thank you for the numbers.  However, given how obsessively secretive Apple is about everything involving their internal affairs, how did Robert Reich measure the ground?

              Big Joe Helton: "I pay Plenty."
              Chico Marx: "Well, then we're Plenty Tough."

              by Caelian on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 09:19:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'd suggest... (0+ / 0-)

                ...going to his blog and getting it firsthand.

                But the short version is that someone just dissected one of the phones and generated a BOM (bill of materials) from their analysis.  With that information, they would research the components used in the phone to determine where they came from and what the probable labor content of those components is.

                I'm a hardware engineer, not a software guy -- but I would assume it is possible to estimate lines of code for the phone and just use standard estimates of LOC/hour (lines of code per hour) that a good software writer can do.

                It's not going to be exact, but I suspect it is pretty close.

                Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

                by TexasTom on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 09:28:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  It sold for $600 (0+ / 1-)
              Recommended by:
              Hidden by:
              TexasTom

              You guys are kind of idiots.

    •  But it starts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM

      with having a highly-educated workforce.  That is government policy.

      •  Can't really be reduced to just that, though. (0+ / 0-)

        I agree with doc2 that it's a strange example on which to base these conclusions.  I also might point out that America WAS once known for producing the "best" watches in the world, which were pocket watches used on railroads (when inaccurate timekeeping could potentially lead to train collisions).  Once the transition was made to wristwatches the American manufacturers couldn't keep up and the Swiss basically took over.  This particular trade just isn't as valued as much here.

      •  *Highly*educated*workforce* (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thm

        Which was the first point of the original post, and isn't mentioned again until this point in the thread. Anybody got any idea how we acquire this highly educated workforce? It seems unlikely to be by pursuing any of the educational policies we pursue today.

        And, just to underline the difficulty: Germany has a largely uniform society that agrees on strict, national educational standards (and rigorous apprenticeships)—and washes out of the schools those who don't meet the standards (although comparatively few wash out). It shunts students fairly early onto post-elementary tracks that are aimed at very different employment outcomes (and could fairly well be said to severely ration access to university education).

        I can't even begin to imagine anything like this in the U.S.A. And there is a fairly simple reason for this—the more folks here condemn free markets (or deny their existence, or even possible existence), the more they cheer for a free market in education. Each of our children is to be treated as a free agent as long as possible, and, instead of being slotted into any sort of rigorous program, is to be given merely "tools" that will enable "self-discovery" and the self-actualized self-realization of their (undoubted) "potential." Good luck turning that into German-standard education.

      •  'Mercans are suspicious about education (0+ / 0-)

        'Mercans aren't interested in education.  Education is "elitist", and the 2010 election showed that ridiculous, simplistic slogans win out over well-thought-out logical arguments.

        The story goes that when Adlai Stevenson finished a speech, a supporter in the audience cried out:

        Adlai, you have the vote of every thinking man in America!

        Adlai's reply:

        That's not enough.  I need a majority.

        Big Joe Helton: "I pay Plenty."
        Chico Marx: "Well, then we're Plenty Tough."

        by Caelian on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:57:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thom Hartmann Seems to Deny Your Explanation (13+ / 0-)

    He says German corporate boards by law must have 50% labor membership.

    We know they have much more progressive taxation than the US.

    I export things to Germany and I can affirm they have tariffs on my products. The US is tariff free for my German competitors to export to my town. I'm damned good at what I do but I have conservative trade and conservative domestic economics leaving me naked against competitors in developed nations who invest in their workers and their infrastructure.

    You seem to be saying Germany's doing it by the standard Reagan-Republican-Democratic flat world approach but merely specializing. I don't think that's how they're doing it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:24:09 PM PST

    •  the tariffs will disappear (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hester, devtob, JeffW, TruthMerchant

      The whole WTO framework is to remove tariffs and other barriers, allowing any and all companies free and equal access to all markets for all capital-owners, without any of them being privileged.  The corporate vision of "democracy".

      The corporate WTO framework already has imposed this on much of the economy (though in some industries the abolition of tariffs are on a several-year timetable).

      The WTO does not, of course have jurisdiction over all areas of trade, so there are yet large areas (finance and agribusinesses being two of the most important) that are not covered by WTO rules.  When the wealthy nations tried to expand WTO to those areas, they were stopped by a voting coalition of poor nations (the G20+ bloc) who stopped the process.

      Obama has recently begun making noises about wanting to restart the Dohan Process, and renew efforts to expand WTO jurisdiction to the rest of the economy.

      In terms of the WTO framework, there has been absolutely no difference between HW Bush, Clinton, or Obama. The ONLY one who was different, ironically, was Dubya, who tried to scuttle the entire international framework and return to an American-Nationalist economic structure.  He was cut off at the knees by the rest of the world (and by his own American corporations).

      The price of tariff removal, of course, will be that you will be price-competing directly with companies in Thailand who pay their workers two cups of rice per day.

      Be careful what you wish for--you might get it.

    •  The VAT also helps them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caelian

      export, since they get a refund.

      In the end, though, the export because they are really good at doing some things.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:09:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  test... (0+ / 0-)
    to see if i can post again.
  •  You mean.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IM, happymisanthropy

    high precision industry, not heavy industry, right? Or you mean, more broadly, manufacturing.

    We do have industrial policies aimed at this, but at the state level. And of course, there were programs like MANTECH aimed at the Defense Sector.

    Excellent diary!

  •  we had an industrial policy sharpened by WWII (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, IM, bushondrugs, Egalitare

    but which for all the literature about post-fordism remains the same in terms of the political arrangements made during the Marshall Plan. We definitely need a new post-industrial policy but alas, there's no one in power outside of the ivory tower who wants to implement one.

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach;Warning-Some Snark Above;Cascadia Lives

    by annieli on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:29:56 PM PST

  •  Excellent diary. (7+ / 0-)

    Would rec if I could.

    By the way, I have toured the Steinway factory in Queens.  It is a very impressive operation, and the workers take obvious pride in what they do there, the same as you describe in Germany.  So, while your diary makes a very valid point, I am not sure that Steinway is the best example you could have chosen, as that company has an industrial culture that seems to transcend the different industrial policies of the two governments it deals with. Short version: Steinway is an exceptional operation, serving an unusual niche market.

    •  I agree with this (3+ / 0-)

      I recommend the documentary Note By Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 available on the Netflix streaming service.

      I would guess that the Queens location has craftsmen who are every bit as dedicated and talented as the Hamburg facility.  If anything, the film gives you faith in the American worker.  

      you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

      by Dem Beans on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:53:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great commentary here. (7+ / 0-)

    This country needs an industrial policy.

    An industrial policy besides "cheaper labor."

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:34:48 PM PST

  •  we need some kind of social worker policy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, IM, JeffW

    that hones our workforce with skills needed for growth and the future. Education. I can't see the industrial elite management dropping any more money into our economy to help pull up the lower shelf by their bootstraps. Beholden to the stockprice, don'tcha know?

    All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure. Mark Twain

    by pickandshovel on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:36:55 PM PST

  •  Is it still possible (0+ / 0-)

    to claim German citizenship if one can prove one's ancestors were German?

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Hunter S. Thompson

    by SNFinVA on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:38:16 PM PST

  •  Employee owned companies? (7+ / 0-)

    I'm familiar with the Steinway company in Queens and obviously Steinway is high quality.  It is debatable as to whether it is of the highest quality.   It has for many decades enjoyed a complete monopoly over concert pianos and that in turn gives it a substantial competitive advantage.  But no matter, I get the feeling that one day the company in Queens may struggle. Maybe Steinway US will be bought by a larger company, leveraged, sold and leveraged again and sold again and on and on until there's nothing left but a liquidation sale.  Like what happened to the Stella D'ora Bread Company.  But it's so obvious to me that we don't have to have that.  Steinway employees are capable and well trained.  They have long term interests in their jobs. Their jobs are their careers because that is their expertise.  If a person is an expert at joining wood in such a way as to create a good sounding piano, they are generally not looking to go to law school and start a new career.  Stability is of paramount importance to them.  They are thus perfect candidates to own the company.   King Arthur Flour is a great example of an employee owned company.  If you think about it, these employees have every opposite motivation of a large corporation. With, of course, the exception of profit.  The large corporation seeks to maximize profit at any cost for short term gain.  However, an employee owned company seeks to maximize or use profit for employee stability.  Stability in a career and in a community.  If one is stable in his or her job, and is vested in a community, they will probably be vested then in making sure they have competent government, schools, police and transit.  That makes their community desirable for people and business.  That means growth.  One thing leads to another.  The same way this desperate crazed outsourcing leads from one bad thing to another.  What we need is a policy that makes credit available to employees who want to purchase their companies.  That would be a policy that could begin to right some wrongs.

  •  We have an industrial policy (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, IM, TexasTom, mightymouse, JeffW, Egalitare

    . Enable MNCs to ship as much manufacturing in most sectors as possible overseas - except military industries; funnel vast resources to those

    . Give vast tax breaks and subsidies to a few companies making hard-to-ship items like BMWs, so that these items can be produced here without the companies paying any taxes

    . Enable "private equity" shops to eradicate any remaining vestiges of small-scale manufacturing (e.g., supply chains) that escape the major relocations (sometimes machine footprint by machine footprint) executed by the MNCs

    . Funnel vast resources to petrochemical companies and agribusiness

    What you mean is that we need a different industrial policy.

    Of course, because liberals suck amazingly at framing, we'll continue debating under the bullshit strawman of some new industrial policy vs. the brilliant status quo of supposedly free markets and invisible hands...

    2010: An Unforced Error Odyssey

    by Minerva on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:40:38 PM PST

  •  And an energy policy, health care policy. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IM, JeffW, Egalitare, Matthew D Jones

    Which are both industrial policies.

    US industry is burdened by health care costs twice that of foreign competitors. Those costs are increasing under Obama care.

    Energy policy, US economy is 50% less energy efficient so US products are uncompetitive. Not to mention the problems it causes such as global warming with the floods, blizzards, hurricanes that cost billions.

    Energy in particular is a source of savings ($400B per year US is losing via oil/energy imports and $500B per year in wasted military costs in failed attempts to secure Middle East oil fields.

    Energy is also a source of jobs, rebuilding US infrastructure, industry and homes will create millions of jobs directly and in building energy efficient products.

    Health care and energy are industrial policy and US policy is counter productive at this point.

  •  Agreed. As I've noted... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bruh1, IM, JeffW, statsone, Egalitare, Eric Nelson

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:55:22 PM PST

    •  My comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM

      here has my view on this.  We are the best prepared nation to fight the Soviet Union ever!  And the government sees to it that we always will be!

      •  Yes, an unstated industrial policy... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bruh1, Egalitare

        ...but one that could be upended (over time) by the real thing.

        Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 07:59:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The people taking the money (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bruh1, JeffW

          won't let it go.  This political equilibrium is very very stable.  We've gone though nearly 20 years of post-Cold-War government, with huge swings between the parties.  Nothing has changed with respect to the MIC.

          If anything, it is more popular than ever.  Bill Clinton tried to give us a "peace dividend", but the end result was that the military became a welfare program for the South first and then the never ending war came back...

  •  Totally envious! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IM, Krush, JeffW, Eric Nelson

    I've lived in Leipzig on two occasions and never made it to Glasshuette to see the watchworks.

    (Very good post, too!)

  •  I do business with the Germans everday (10+ / 0-)

    and most of the difference is NOT political.  It is about attention to detail and social cohesion.

    A German business who offshored jobs and laod off his workers would be regarded as betraying his country.  We do not have the same ethic.  If you drive on the autobahn you won't see a foriegn car anywhere.  They buy from themselves, and in doing so they gain the expertise to export.

    You can try to address this through politics, but until an American Businessman are ashamed at offshoring his employees jobs, we are going to struggle.

    The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

    by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:01:16 PM PST

    •  because (0+ / 0-)

      American companies are too big.

      "The only person sure of himself is the man who wishes to leave things as they are, and he dreams of an impossibility" -George M. Wrong.

      by statsone on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:03:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bigger than Siemans (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yuriwho, Egalitare

        or BMW or Mercedes or SAP or VW.

        Their big companies are every bit as big as ours.  I do business with them everyday.

        Their banks are actually BIGGER.

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:11:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the million-dollar question (0+ / 0-)

          How many German companies are partially owned by American companies, and vice versa.

          Daimler wasn't the only one.

          And therein lies the awkward problem with any form of economic nationalism.

          •  The Germans dumped Chrysler (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            brooklynbadboy

            to save Mercedes.  They treat their German employees VERY different than their American employees. Siemans has lifetime employment for German employees - and for no one else.

            Really, you don't understand Germany, or how their companies work.  They are all about nationalism.  And they are eating are lunch.

            The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

            by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 10:43:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Why is there so much social cohesion in Germany? (0+ / 0-)

      nt

      •  It is cultural (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse, Matthew D Jones

        and it has its downsides.  In Germany they were making monkey noises when African played soccer there.  And you might remember WW2.

        But it is VERY real.

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:16:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Except BMW manufactures cars here (0+ / 0-)

      And isn't Skoda just VW from Czech?

      People are too obsessed with cars anyway.

      •  Nothing compared to the Japanese (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW

        they offshore little of their work.

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:16:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except manufacture of all their cars (0+ / 0-)

          I am a proud driver of a Toyota Camry made in TN.

          •  doh, wrong place (0+ / 0-)

            This is a response to the post you were responding to, not to you.  Sorry.

          •  a story about that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Caelian, IM

            Many years ago, as an IWW organizer, I was invited to give a speech to a UAW local in Pennsylvania.  At the entrance to the parking lot was a big sign that said "no foreign cars allowed". So I pulled in with my Honda, and was met by a crowd of gesticulating and arm-waving security guards who told me I couldn't bring the "foreign car" into the lot.  "This car was manufactured in Tennessee", I told them, and pulled in.

            So which IS the "American" car---the Honda made in Tennessee, or the Ford made in Mexico?

            One of the awkward problems with "Buy American!!!!!!"

          •  You do know (0+ / 0-)

            your Camry is made at a non-union plant?

            Most liberals are utterly clueless about social solidarity.

            There is no progressive movement without unions.  And with their dollars liberals betray the union movement every day.

            The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

            by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 10:46:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  so is your Ford made in Mexico (0+ / 0-)

              And when Daimler owned Chrysler, the Germans were getting your money.

              •  At this point (0+ / 0-)

                it is obvious you don't give a damn about the unions.

                You just make up reasons why you don't support them.

                This grandson of a UAW shop steward find the idea you have anything of relevence to say to a union as silly.  You nothing of social solidarity.  

                The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

                by fladem on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 05:08:58 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  ironic that you would speak to me of solidarity (0+ / 0-)

                  while your own union killed itself by refusing solidarity with company workers overseas, allowed them to remain as a permanent source of low-wage whipsawing, then "negotiated" givebacks to beg the company not to move everyone's job overseas, only to have the company take the givebacks, say "thanks", and then move anyway.

                  Maybe that's why the US has a mere 7% of its non-government workforce unionized----one of the lowest percentages in the world.

                  Great job, guys.

                  •  How could (0+ / 0-)

                    a US union have effected change in China or another foriegn country?

                    The idea is so idiotic as to be laughable.

                    But by buying non-union, you certainly have helped break them.  

                    The real problem is that in order to build a liberal movement you need strong unions, and you haven't a clue about any of that.

                    You still don't get they were right: you showed up to talk to them in a non-union car.

                    The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

                    by fladem on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 08:53:52 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  you're kidding, right? (0+ / 0-)

                      What would have happened back in 1981 when, say, Ford went to the UAW and declared "We're closing this factory down and moving it to the maquiladora sector in Mexico", and instead of wetting its pants and giving the bosses half their paychecks to try to bribe him into staying, the UAW had instead replied with "Fine, we'll go right along with you--and if every single one of those workers there isn't in the same union as us with the same wage scale for the same jobs, we'll put them out on strike for the next half a year."

                      How different things would be now.

                      Instead, the UAW decided that an American worker was the only worker worth fighting for--thereby creating a permanent reserve of low-wage foreign workers, and absolutely guaranteeing that the owners would move all the plants to the low-wage havens.

                      And even now, as auto workers in China fight and die to organize an effective union, the mighty UAW not only doesn't lift a finger to help them---it continues to treat them as the enemy.

                      American unions, alas, long ago forgot what the word "solidarity" means.

                      •  btw, speaking of solidarity . . . (0+ / 0-)

                        perhaps you could explain to everyone why the UAW signed all those two-tiered wage scales back in the 80's (back when they were giving away everything but their balls to keep the boss from moving the plants--which of course he did anyway).

                        Selling out one part of the company workforce to protect the other part--a great demonstration of "solidarity", huh.

                        And you still wonder why the corporado, uh, partners, cleaned your clocks?

            •  alas, the unions betrayed themselves (0+ / 0-)

              Instead of organizing the "foreign" workers to stop jobs from going overseas, they hopped in bed with the corporados and became "partners" against the forners. Meanwhile, they "negotiated" a lot of givebacks and concessions so the bosses wouldn't move the plants overseas---and the bosses took the givebacks, said "thanks", and moved the plants anyway.

              American unions (what's left of them) wouldn't be in the position they are in now if they had remembered what the word "solidarity" means.  Or at least what the word "whipsawing" means.

        •  not true at all (0+ / 0-)

          Nearly every Japanese car sold in the US, is manufactured here.

          As for Germany, the German steel industry just built a huge production plant in Alabama.

          •  sorry, I misread you (0+ / 0-)

            I assumed your "they" referred to the Japanese--now I see it refers to the Germans.

            Nevertheless, as I noted, Germany has already placed a large steel plant in Alabama, and of course Daimler famously bought part of Chrysler.  And IIRC BMW and Volkswagen have production plants in the US.

            So I fear it won't be long till the German economy is just as outsourced as everyone else's.

            •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

              you are in denial.  Do business in Germany.  The Japanese are far more open than the Germans are in that respect.  

              The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

              by fladem on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 10:40:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  not true at all (0+ / 0-)

          Nearly every Japanese car sold in the US, is manufactured here.

          And Germany's steel industry just put a huge steel plant in Alabama.

  •  Not having a policy IS a policy (8+ / 0-)

    ...Whenever you bring up an American industrial policy, the first thing Republicans trot out is the old "don't pick winners and losers" shtick. The problem is that no policy at all does pick winners and losers. The winners will be financial speculators and others who can manipulate information faster than everyone else.

    That's almost right - in Griftopia it's not about the government  picking winners and losers - it's about the big money boys making sure the government rigs the game so they always win - and the rest of us lose.

    The bit above, about the German Step 3 of reinvesting the gains into a highly educated workforce - doesn't happen here. There's no reinvesting. It's all pocketed by the profit takers. They don't need a long term sustainable policy because they want it all now.

    Dave Johnson back in August 2010 laid out how the way our economy works now is running the country into the ground. Check out Tax Cuts Are Theft and take a look at Sara Robinson's riff on that topic too.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:01:38 PM PST

  •  America's industrial policy... (0+ / 0-)

    and I just throw this out for your consideration, is to produce the world's best armaments.

    Consider the wealth and effort put into this by our government. Consider the rigorous testing advanced weapons systems need to go through, the oversight by both the Pentagon and by Congress.

    Furthermore, consider that when our own need for main battle tanks were fulfilled, we ramped up a major diplomatic effort to convince Greece to buy main battle tanks for which it had absolutely no use, and wound up eating a large part of its military budget nonetheless.

    And it kept the production lines here going.

    Oh yeah, we have an industrial policy alright.

    22 December 2010: Democrats have one good day in two years.

    by papicek on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:02:51 PM PST

  •  Yes, this is exactly correct. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IM, yuriwho, JeffW, Egalitare, Eric Nelson

    The German manufacturing sector is much better off because the Germans never deluded themselves into thinking that they could compete with lower-wage countries on cost.  Their attitude can basically be summed up as: yeah, sure, you'll pay more for our goods, but hey, they're better.  Nobody picks a Mercedes-Benz over a Kia because the Mercedes is cheaper; people pick a Mercedes because it's a better car.

  •  It all starts with education (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caelian, Krush, Eric Nelson

    and then blossoms with manufacturing. We need to invest at the bottom of the tree. Germany has a 2 tiered education system with trades being highly valued. They split their students into academic and practical and spend as much on both.

    "We've been able to take that natural Human gesture, of sympathy, and elevate it into a political lobby for a change" Bob Geldof on Q TV

    by yuriwho on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:12:39 PM PST

  •  Thanks, man, this is a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare

    great article.

  •  Good Idea, sadly... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin, JeffW

    The elite business schools have considered  (and taught)that the US worker as 'just a widget' in the big machine (and consumers, too) for roughly 40 years. The amount of 'training' most workers get is next to zero, there are exceptions, but the empolyee is supposed to arrive 'trained' (at his/her own expense) and no effort has been extended in the US for training employees for about the same 40 years. At the same time our educational system has not, for the most part,produced 'skilled' individuals, at least to the liking of 'industry', and getting the recently educated jobs has been difficult for about the samr, 40 years.  

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:20:33 PM PST

  •  But the U.S. DOES have an industrial policy. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, mightymouse, oldcrow

    Subsidies for agribusiness, subsidies for oil and mineral extraction, subsidies for polluters, subsidies for Wall Street robber barons, subsidies for Big PhARMA's research, subsidies for merchants of death and, coming soon, subsidies for health insurance companies.

    And the growth of most of those industries, as well as their profit margins, shows how effective the policy is at what it is designed to do. It's a shitty policy, but it sure is one.

    Obama stands with war profiteers, torturers, Wall Street, health insurance companies, Big PhARMA, Big Oil and Social Security-haters. Good at photo ops, though.

    by expatjourno on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:21:55 PM PST

  •  America's Industrial Policy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caelian, Back In Blue, JeffW

    Gee, you mean sell our technology to the highest bidder and our jobs to the lowest bidder isn't working?

    It's worked pretty well to dismantle the world's strongest manufacturing economy and maximize short term profits for otherwise bankrupt CEOs in thirty short years.

    It's called Reaganism.

  •  the US needs to end the overseas tax credit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek

    if you want to see job growth in the US then put US workers on a level playing field by ending the tax credit giant corps get by sending US jobs overseas.

    •  but that won't put us on a level (0+ / 0-)

      playing field.

      Corporations don't move jobs to China because they get tax credits. They move jobs to China because workers in China get paid one-twentieth what we do.

      There are only two ways to level the playing field---either we raise their wages to match ours, or we lower our wages to match theirs.

      Which do you prefer?

      •  wrong (0+ / 0-)

        I have personally seen companies move jobs specifically to get the tax credit.  American workers can compete in the global market place, but not at a huge disadvantage with the overseas tax credit.

        •  how much money do they save in lower wages (0+ / 0-)

          compared to how much money they get in the tax credit.

          Is it even the same order of magnitude?

          Your contention is that if we eliminate the tax credit, they won't move anyway to take advantage of the lower labor costs?

          Why wouldn't they? Why would they voluntarily pay higher labor costs than they could get by moving?

          •  maybe you did not understand what I said (0+ / 0-)

            I have personally seen companies move jobs specifically to get the tax credit. Lower wages were a plus, but do you really think ripping up operations is free?

            •  and maybe you didn't understand mine (0+ / 0-)

              How much are the savings in lower wages, compared to the amount of tax credit they get?  Is it even in the same order of magnitude?

              And is it your contention that without the tax credit they would NOT move to the lower wages?  Why not?  Why would they voluntarily pay higher wages when they can cut their wage bill to one-fourth simply by moving?

            •  if they are willing to incur the costs of "rippin (0+ / 0-)

              up" just for the tax credit, why would they then be unwilling to incur those same costs for the much-larger savings they can get by cutting their wage bill to one-fourth or one-tenth by moving?

              Is it your contention that the tax credit they get is much bigger than the money they save by cutting wages? I find that impossible to believe---I have never seen any company anywhere that paid more in taxes than it did in wages. Could you present some figures for the companies that you saw?

              •  if the overseas tax credit is no big deal (0+ / 0-)

                then there should be no resistance to repealing it right?

                •  sure (0+ / 0-)

                  Go ahead and repeal it.

                  I'm asking how it will help, though, since companies will still move to get the lower wages overseas.

                  And I notice you've not given any hard numbers to illustrate your contention.  I suspect that's because you can't.  The idea that companies care more about a relatively small tax credit than they do about cutting their wage bill to one-tenth, is silly on the face of it.

                  Particularly so since most corporations in the US don't pay any taxes at all.

  •  A small comment about Steinways (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caelian, IM, brooklynbadboy, Eric Nelson

    You state:

    Used Hamburg Steinway concert grand pianos sold in the United States frequently sell for substantially more than brand new New York Steinways.

    Used concert pianos, like many other high end musical instruments, do not automatically depreciate with age (assuming they are well kept). Often an older Steinway will sell for a higher price than the equivalent new piano, especially if it has a particularly good sound and/or action or has been played by exceptional pianists.

    In one of the theaters I worked in we often had visiting pianists and they had their choice of 4 Steinways and a Bosnedorfer. As I recall it, 3 of the Steinways were from Queens, one from Hamburg. The one most often chosen was the mid-30s model D (Queens), though Andras Schiff was vehement about using the Hamburg.

    There is, in fact, an extremely wide price range over the years of Steinways - for example, the mid > late 70s Steinways (during the period that CBS controlled Steinway) are not highly prized at all. They attempted some "innovations" which made the action horrid for serious players. A Steinway Model "D" from either factory manufactured in 1975, for example, would probably sell at a serious discount compared to a model "D" manufactured either a decade earlier or later...

    If you're looking to have a Steinway in your parlor, but do not intend on a career as a concert pianist, I would recommend looking for a used, mid- 70s Steinway. You can get a real (relative) bargain!

    "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." - Tom Robbins - Political Compass sez: -8.25, -7.90

    by ARS on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:42:04 PM PST

  •  Excellent post BBB Gamblers don't build stuff... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek

    ...like ageless pianos and beautiful time pieces...

    Instead of promoting capital investment in an alliance with  industry and government, financial planners have sponsored a travesty of free markets. Realizing that income not taxed is free to be capitalized, bought and sold on credit, and paid out as interest, bankers have formed an alliance between finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) to free land rent and monopoly rent (as well as debt-leveraged "capital" gains) from taxation.
    The result is that today’s economy is burdened with property and financial claims that Marx and other critics deemed "fictitious" – a proliferation of financial overhead in the form of interest and dividends, fees and commissions, exorbitant management salaries, bonuses and stock options, and "capital" gains (mainly debt-leveraged land-price gains). And to cap matters, new financial modes of exploiting labor have been innovated, headed by pension-fund capitalism and privatization of Social Security. As economic planning has passed from government to the financial sector, the alternative to public price regulation and progressive taxation is debt peonage - emphasis added

    Gambling. Not a day's work there that means shit

    ...and they stole all the money. We need to build once again

    I don't want your country back..I want my country forward - Bill Maher

    by Eric Nelson on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:50:07 PM PST

  •  which economist (0+ / 0-)

    or labor leader was it who pointed out obama needed to put up a manufacturer or jobs commission before a deficit one?

  •  I thought we could all work in service industry! (0+ / 0-)

    You want fries with that?

    Nickel, dime, and quarter. Change we can believe in.

    by RickD on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 10:23:31 PM PST

  •  how'bout this: beer with lunch. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin, cs

    At the Magirus truck factory in Germany, the company served the assembly line workers beer with lunch.

    Yet they produced what many regard as some of the finest trucks in the world.  

    So much for zero-tolerance policies.  

  •  we had it once: the Bell Telephone System. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brooklynbadboy, ARS

    Every piece of hardware in the Bell System, from the central office switches that were the most complex electromechanical devices ever invented by humans, to the black rotary dial phone on your desk, was designed to last 50 years and be repaired and reconditioned as needed to be kept in service.  And equipment that could no longer be repaired, was recycled for raw materials that went right back into the production processes.

    If you look at any of that old hardware in detail, what you see is that it was designed to work flawlessly and to last and last and last.  It might not have had the finesse of European watchmaking, but it had the muscular robustness of the proverbial Mack truck, another American icon of its time.  

    And in those days, if you called someone and couldn't hear them, or if you couldn't make or receive calls, that was a big deal and a repair service operator would set the wheels in motion to get it all working again by the end of the next day.  

    It worked fabulously well.  It was called the world's best telephone service and it was.  It was also a first-class example of eco-industrial engineering, with raw materials inputs and thus embodied energy kept to a minimum.  

    Then we destroyed it for the sake of ....what, exactly?  The ability to have a home phone shaped like a duck that quacks when it rings?  The ability to make cheap long distance calls on cut-rate carriers that sounded like shit...?   And today, the ability to try to hold conversations over things the size of candy bars that sound even worse...?

    Now try prying people away from their shiny objects and getting back to the basics of a communications utility that really lets you communicate reliably.  

    Having worked in this industry all my adult life, all I can say is, people get what they want, and they get what they deserve.

    Hello...?   Are you still there...?  

    •  Funny you bring this up, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ARS

      because I was just discussing with my wife this morning how phone service as become more expensive and less reliable now that it is digital. Seemed to me the old bell system worked just fine.

      One of things I always comment on is how unreliable modern software is. Just imagine if, for example, your vehicle had to be managed like your personal computer. You'd trade it in for a good horse!

      Good subject for discussion.

  •  you have 2 number 2 exporters (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, IM, brooklynbadboy

    China is now No 1, Germany No 2, but Germany may get back into No 1. Not impossible.

    Recently I also traveled in Germany and was blown away by the high-tech production and the cleverness of the engineering. These people are top fit. Also, they hire more and more Americans. Most cities, even smaller ones now have English schools - so an American can take his family and work in Germany. They have an extreme shortage in skilled people to support their boom.

  •  The article is partially correct, but (0+ / 0-)

    I wouldn't attribute superiod German manufacturing to their government.  

    Rather, governmental policies are driven by what is inherently present in the culture.  That is, Germans generally support paying a premium for superior quality.  America is a much more materialistic society, so in wanting to acquire as many goods as we can to stock our households and impress our friends, we end up buying cheap crap.

  •  Steinway is the one taking over. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin, ARS

    The Steinway company was bought out by CBS in the 1970's which did to Steinway what they also did to Fender guitars, a noticeable decline in quality. That is when the "Hamburg Steinway is better" craze started. Since then, the Steinway family has repurchased the company from CBS, and the quality of the american product has risen considerably. The Steinway family has also acquired several other instrument manufacturers, Conn, King, Selmer,and Leblanc, which all were competitors in the band instrument business at one time. Steinway now has a virtual monopoly in that area in the US as well. A better example of the decline of the piano business in the USA would be the one of Baldwin, which for years was the main competitor to Steinway, and made at least as good, if not better, in some artists opinions, pianos than Steinway.  The Gibson guitar company acquired it a few years back, and, with the exception of custom orders for their top of the line SD10 concert grand, have moved all of their piano making operations from the US to China. Even in the concert world, no one uses a Baldwin any more.The few SD10's that they still make in the US are said to be a pale imitation of their former selves. The main competitors to Steinway are either Yamaha, Kawai or some of the boutique European brands such as Bosendorfer.

    •  We have one of those 70s (0+ / 0-)

      Steinways, with the "enhanced action." Oy...

      Your comparison to the CBS era Fenders is apt.

      Our Steinway (my wife studied at NEC, piano & voice. She's currently a classical singer) is good enough for her to work out songs, and do some practice, but every "serious" pianist who has touched it has literally grimaced.

      "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." - Tom Robbins - Political Compass sez: -8.25, -7.90

      by ARS on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 07:36:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  of course we do, but... (0+ / 0-)

    ...conventional wisdom says we can't.

    And so we won't with this president, the last congress, this congress, or the next congress.

    Doing this is a no-brainer, but gets to the very heart of why we are unable to solve our problems.  The wealthy and their corporations do not want it to happen and they are still contolling not only the agenda but the discourse.

  •  I'm Not Sure The German Model Fits (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ARS

    The US.  What Germany has done is essentially to dominate niche markets for high-cost high-quality goods.  While Germany may dominate these markets, the markets are relatively small.  You can't really rebuild an economy the size of the US by trying to get into these markets, even if you could.

    It is interesting that you talk about pianos, because it is something I know about and is a good illustration of the problem.  The US does manufacture a top-quality concert piano, Steinway, and as an earlier commenter noted, it is highly debateable that the German Steinway is superior to the Steinway manufactured in Queeens.  Nevertheless, Germany does manufacture top-quality concert pianos, not just Steinway but also Bechstein, Bosendorfer and others.  However, these pianos are extremely expensive and the market for them is small.  These pianos are purchased by professional musicians (successful ones who can afford them), concert halls, conservatories, and rich people looking for status symbols.  They are not purchased by ordianry people.

    About 50 years ago or so, the US dominated the piano industry.  However, it was not because of the sale of Steinway concert grands.  There were a host of companies (Wurlitzer, Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin, Sohmer, Knabe) that built lower quality, lower cost pianos, mostly spinets and uprights, which were purchased by public schools and by middle class people who wanted their kids to take piano lessons.  A few these companies also made grands that competed with Steinway (esp. Baldwin), but for the most part they made their money on sales of cheaper pianos to the middle class.  By the 70s, a lot of these US companies were out of business because they could not compete with the Japanese pianos (Kawai, Yamaha) that were mass produced in highly automated factories and were of higher quality and lower cost than the low-end US pianos.  The Japanese also made concert pianos, but they were no match for Steinway.  More recently, the low end segment of the piano industry has moved from Japan to China, and today the Chinese Pearl River piano company is the largest piano manufacturer in the world.

    In order to rebuild its manufacturing base the US cannot simply try to copy the German model of catering to high cost niche markets.  US industries have to re-learn the techniques of manufacturing low cost goods that can be sold to middle class consumers.  With economic growth in China, India, Brazil, etc., there is also a growth of the middle class in those countries.  That will soon be the largest consumer market in the world, if it isn't already.  US industries have to target those markets, not just the handful of rich people who buy Steinways and Porsches.  

    •  Cars (BMW, Benz, Audi...), heavy machinery (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM
      etc are mass production industries, and they likely generate the bulk of Germany's exports.

      I personally love Audis (the 30valve Audi A4 Quattro with the original exterior design was a sweet gem of a car) for their functionally aesthetic designs and BMWs for their superb driving feel.

      •  Those Are All Expensive Cars (0+ / 0-)

        Again, they are not within the price range of most middle class consumers.  This is essentially a niche market.  Volkswagen is a less expensive car affordable to middle class consumers, but its quality is no better than what Detroit produces.

        •  We are talking about creating an environment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IM

          where such fine products are produced and sold to buyers everywhere in the world. German companies are able to make products that people find to be fine machines that are well worth a bit of extra cost. The reputation of such products also brings prestige, making the products all the more attractive to those potential global buyers that are up and coming.

          BTW, a manual Audi A4 Quattro was about $30K in the US in the early 2000's, not that much higher than a V6 Honda Accord which was $26K (which wasn't even offering a manual transmission back then). The additional $4K was well worth the cost if you enjoy a fun-to-drive all wheel drive car.

    •  that's also why Germany is less vulnerable to (0+ / 0-)

      outsourcing overseas than we are---our industries are based on the lowest-common-denominator worker, and any Mexican villager or Chinese farmhand can do those jobs just as well as our workers.  German industries like these, however, are dependent upon highly trained workers (who represent a large company investment) that they can't get anywhere else.

      When it comes to other industries like steel, which do not require specialized highly-trained workers, there are no such difficulties--and Germany did indeed recently offshore a huge steel plant in Alabama.

  •  The Diff's 'twixt Germany & US in brief: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IM

    Germany:

    1. Produce a highly educated workforce.
    1. Have that workforce create and make advanced, precision things for high wages.
    1. Export the things at a high price and then re-invest that money back into item 1.

    US:

    1. Let the market work by having government not interfere.
    1. If the market doesn't work, give the market a bunch of public debt money.

    WHICH IS MORE CONSERVATIVE? Quick, now, pick one. ;0)

    Ugh. --UB.

  •  Harvard Biz School Alums: We Don't Do That (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IM, Dauphin

    A couple of years ago, I went to the Alumni Weekend at Harvard Business School (my sister is an alum).  One of the events I attended was a panel on the energy business with a group of alums who were highly placed in all sectors of the energy biz.  It was moderated by an HBS prof in that "interactive" HBS manner in one of the sloping auditoria that they have.  It felt like an intellectual game show.

    At one point, I asked them about the future of US energy, saying that France had invested 30 years in becoming a nuclear society and wasn't going back, Brazil had spent 30 years becoming a biofuel society and wasn't going back, Germany had spent the last 20 years becoming a wind and solar society and wasn't going back.  What was the US doing?

    What they heard was industrial policy and one of the panelists said, "The US doesn't do industrial policy" and all concurred.

    They had totally missed my point, that the world was moving on and the US was not.  Their answer wasn't an answer but a punt, typical for energy policy, and false on the very face of it.  Of course the US does industrial policy.  It doesn't do it on purpose but by default and ignorance.

    Even Harvard Business School grads, you know, like George W Bush.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 09:02:00 AM PST

  •  excellent post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brooklynbadboy

    I really found the synopsis of German policy enlightening.
    thanks

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