November 15, 2012
ANY WOG CAN ASSEMBLE PARTS:
Fetish for making things ignores real work (John Kay, 11/17/12, Financial Times)
When you look at the value chain of manufactured goods we consume today, you quickly appreciate how small a proportion of the value of output is represented by the processes of manufacturing and assembly. Most of what you pay reflects the style of the suit, the design of the iPhone, the precision of the assembly of the aircraft engine, the painstaking pharmaceutical research, the quality assurance that tells you products really are what they claim to be.Physical labour incorporated in manufactured goods is a cheap commodity in a globalised world. But the skills and capabilities that turn that labour into products of extraordinary complexity and sophistication are not. The iPhone is a manufactured product, but its value to the user is as a crystallisation of services.Many of those who talk about the central economic importance of manufactured goods do so from an understandable concern for employment and the trade balance.
The insistence that the makework be done domestically at higher wages is antieconomics.Posted by Orrin Judd at November 15, 2012 9:42 PM