11.26.12

CAHY: American manufacturing

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Predator State at 9:17 am by George Smith

From the wires:

Raytheon, one of the world’s largest military contractors, opened the doors today to its newest missile factory, a state-of-the-art facility that will produce weapons for the United States and its [toadies].

According to Raytheon, the Huntsville, Ala. plant, located at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, will produce Standard Missile-3 and Standard Missile-6 interceptors. The first SM-6s should be delivered in early 2013, while the SM-3s should be ready a quarter later.

The facility is said to be among the most advanced missile production plants in the world, utilizing laser-guided transport vehicles for moving missile components around.

“At new Raytheon plant, America’s missiles come to life,” reads the Raytheon advertisement attached to the piece.

How many Standard missiles were fired at the enemy in anger in the last decade?

Zero.

Because al Qaeda and the Taliban have no air force or navy.


Here is a piece at the New York Times, published last week, in which the reporter investigates domestic non-military manufacturing, where one reads about lousy American workers not fit for the jobs because of “skills mismatches”:

The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.

In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group noted that, outside a few small cities that rely on the oil industry, there weren’t many places where manufacturing wages were going up and employers still couldn’t find enough workers. “Trying to hire high-skilled workers at rock-bottom rates,” the Boston Group study asserted, “is not a skills gap.” The study’s conclusion, however, was scarier. Many skilled workers have simply chosen to apply their skills elsewhere rather than work for less, and few young people choose to invest in training for jobs that pay fast-food wages. As a result, the United States may soon have a hard time competing in the global economy …

Paul Krugman, in pointing it out, was more supercilious:

Whenever you see some business person quoted complaining about how he or she can’t find workers with the necessary skills, ask what wage they’re offering. Almost always, it turns out that what said business person really wants is highly (and expensively) educated workers at a manual-labor wage … So what you really want to ask is why American businesses don’t feel that it’s worth their while to pay enough to attract the workers they say they need.

In reading James K. Galbraith’s The Predator State, one would call this the dominance of American manufacturing by corporate reactionary predators.

This has installed a race to the bottom in labor in a country where unions have been destroyed in the private sector and no standards for fair compensation are allowed to exist.

Noticeably, one could see it during the summer when new and tough anti-illegal immigration enforcement in red states resulted in immigrant workers leaving US southern agriculture, where profitability and cheap prices have been maintained by making wages rock bottom.

Inevitably, farmers lined up to complain to the mainstream media that American workers would not take these jobs. At one point, you could find pieces in which criminals on parole or probation were offered as a potential workforce. Even they would not work in the fields.

From September:

Ralph and Cheryl Broetje rely on roughly 1,000 seasonal workers every year to grow and pack over 6 million boxes of apples on their farm along the Snake River in eastern Washington. It’s a custom they’ve maintained for over two decades. Recently, though, their efforts to recruit skilled labor, mostly undocumented immigrants, have come woefully short, despite intensive recruitment efforts in an area with high rates of unemployment.

The Broetjes, and an increasing number of farmers across the country, say that a complex web of local and state anti-immigration laws account for acute labor shortages …

“The United States farmer is still the most efficient in the world, and if we want to be in charge of our food security and our economy and add favorably to our balance of payments, we need to support a [slave] labor force for agriculture,” said some douchebag to Time magazine.

Back in 2007, Galbraith explained it as predatory business practice in which agriculture, having no need to respond to standards in labor, pressed wages to the bottom. No one, except the desperate from Mexico, regularly wishes to work stoop labor in fields, being sprayed by pesiticides, for much less than a living wage.

“Imposing standard and enforcing them, is thus the general response to the Predator State,” which is just a collision of reactionary forces within business who seek to maintain competitiveness and profitability without technological improvement, without environmental control, without attending to product or workplace safety,” writes Galbraith.

“They are the forces behind deregulation, behind tort reform, and behind the assault on unions… ”

Galbraith asks, rhetorically, “Are their example?” Yes, the countries of northern Europe which have established wage protections and more successful economies despite regulation. Germany, for example, has more generous labor and wage agreements in automobile manufacturing, standards which are enforced. However, news stories in the US media indicate that when German automotive giants set up shop in the United States, they revert to predatory US business practice and rely on plants in anti-labor “right-to-work” southern states.

Arms manufacturing in the US is a different matter. It is protected and paid for by the US taxpayer.

“In short, the populist directive is to raise American wages, create American jobs and increase the fairness and security of our economic system, especially for citizens and legal residents, but also for all who seek work within our borders,” writes Galbraith near the end of The Predator State.

“You want higher wages? Raise them. You want more and better jobs? Create them.”

Raytheon missile manufacturing, of very little intrinsic social value other than decent jobs with pay, is an example.

Corporate America relies primarily on the equation in which compensation is always compressed and subtracted. My grandfather, who raised his family in a row home in the Frankford area of Philadelphia was a machinist who worked in manufacturing. Unlike the manufacturing workers being sought in the New York Times piece, he was able to earn a decent pay.

When I saw him, that was in the Sixties and Seventies.

2 Comments

  1. OnTheWaterfront said,

    November 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Whenever I hear the excuses from Farmers about how Americans won’t do these jobs because they are too hard, too hot, too physically demanding, I always think about Coal miners or oil field ruffnecks or those guys on Deadliest catch. It not the job, its the paycheck!!!

  2. George Smith said,

    November 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    It’s worth adding that the US labor market isn’t the only place that suffers. A bunch of people — mostly women — just got burned up in Dacca, Bangladesh, for the sake of things like cheap relaxed fit blue jeans peddled on Cyber Monday by the biggest practitioner of the US predator’s business model, Walmart.

    “Employees in the country’s factories are among the world’s lowest-paid, with entry-level workers making the government-mandated minimum wage of about $37 a month or slightly above,” .reads the New York Times.

    The model, one in which standards are routinely defeated as onerous “regulation” allows corporate America to mercilessly pit labor markets against each other, lethally unfairly, in this case.