Friday, August 2, 2013

We're even more dependent on imported labor and unusual raw materials than we realzie

Apple has attracted attention lately by a move to make more different kinds of iPhones (including budget versions) and my “reshoring” some manufacturing  back in the US, but someone sent an email with this link showing how much of the labor and raw materials from our technology comes from overseas, here
  
One of the important concepts is “speed” as well as “cost”.  Another important factor is availability of unusual minerals (some are “rare earth” elements you learn about on the Periodic Table in Chemistry 101), some of which come from Inner Mongolia and China. Some manufacturing is easier if one near the natural resources.  But still a major issue is social: the ability in developing countries to get workers to live in quasi-military dorms and work for low pay.
  
The link suggests that in general it’s not as easy to get core manufacturing jobs back here as we would like.  And that leaves our economy very vulnerable to infrastructure shocks, as from storms or dangers to the power grid, as I discussed on the Issues blog today.  

Apple says it will do "assembly" of some phones in the US; that's not total manufacture. 

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