John Tamny: Bringing Back Manufacturing Jobs Would Mean Economic Stagnation

The British fought three wars in Afghanistan over an 80-year period. They finally left this “graveyard for empires” in 1919, only to eventually be replaced by the Soviet Union in the late 70s, and the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11.

A lack of change in the kind of work we do, is a sign of economic decline.

Very interesting about Afghanistan is its evolution, or lack thereof. In a recent snapshot of the dysfunctional country, New York Times reporter Rod Nordland noted that “It is striking how little the rural Afghan landscape has changed between the early 19th and 21st centuries. The mud-walled fortifications of those days can still be seen throughout the country, and some of them are still in use as military facilities today.”

The picture painted by Nordland brings to mind the roughly 30-year gap in visits to the former Soviet Union by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. In his 2006 autobiography, The Age of Turbulence, Greenspan recalled how the equipment used by laborers in the country hadn’t changed a bit in the decades in between.

Greenspan’s point was that a lack of change in how we do work, and the kind of work we do, is a sign of economic decline.

The New York Example

Which brings us to New York City. Interesting about it is that right before the Civil War began, New York was a city of factories. 11 percent of its jobs were in manufacturing. Right through the first 3rd of the twentieth century, New York City was the #1 manufacturing locale in the United States.

But it’s decidedly not a manufacturing city today. Not in the least. Who knows what the number is, assuming there is one, but the number of manufacturing jobs in New York City is likely close to zero. It’s too expensive to manufacture on land that’s so valuable, plus manufacturing jobs would be a waste of the skills of NYC’s inhabitants. As Ken Auletta long ago put it about New York, “For those with talent, this city is the final test.”

The alleged “loss” of a certain form of work would never signal a city’s deterioration.

While it will be by some, the above shouldn’t be construed as an elitist comment. It’s an economic statement. That manufacturing long ago departed New York is a sign of the city’s immense wealth. The average worker in New York City is too valuable and too talented to waste on assembly inside a factory. The latter is similarly true for nearly every American worker, and it’s merely an expression of what market signals regularly communicate to us: low factory pay around the world is the market’s way of telling us that the human element of assembly is no longer as crucial as it once was. Translated, Americans are too productive to work in factories.

Politicians, economists, and pundits like to rationalize the decline of cities through the loss of manufacturing jobs, but that’s like saying that Brooklyn suffered decades of decline thanks to the departure of farming from land on which it was once abundant. But the alleged “loss” of a certain form of work would never signal a city’s deterioration.

More realistically, New York City booms today precisely because it’s no longer #1 in manufacturing. If it were, it would be a very poor city. Lest we forget, it’s where the talented migrate, and the talented disdain low-wage, back-breaking manufacturing work.

Changing the Way We Work

The non-departure of specific work is the bigger signal of looming demise.

Brilliant people make cities and states prosperous, and the brilliant long ago put factory work in the rear-view mirror. So have American workers of all stripes left manufacturing employment behind. It doesn’t pay enough.

So while it’s popular to say that the disappearance of some forms of work tells the story of a formerly glorious city, state, or country’s demise, the paradoxical truth is that the non-departure of specific work is the bigger signal of looming demise. Investors are the creators of all jobs, and they want dynamism.

Locales defined by static working conditions are the opposite of dynamic, and as such, they’re an investor repellent. New York City thrives by virtue of it having shed its manufacturing past, while Flint languishes for it having not shed manufacturing work quickly enough.

Investors want change, simply because profits are, like luxury, an historical concept. Just as entrepreneurs commoditize luxuries every day to our benefit, so do they aggressively compete away profits. This explains why the nature of work is constantly changing. It simply must. Where it doesn’t is where opportunity is slight mainly because investment is.

Bringing Back Yesterday’s Jobs

All this should be considered the next time readers hear a politician, economist or pundit talking about how their policies will “bring back manufacturing jobs.” If so, they’re promising policies consistent with sub-minimum wages, along with stagnation that will make today’s growth seem Singapore-like by comparison.

Factory work conducted by humans is increasingly a yesterday concept.

Though we’re told that bringing back the work of the past is part of “Making America Great Again,” nothing could be further from the truth. The day that policies succeed in reviving the past is the day that ambitious Americans start knocking on the doors of other countries, and when immigrants don’t bother sneaking into the U.S. at all.

Reprinted from Forbes.

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68 Responses to John Tamny: Bringing Back Manufacturing Jobs Would Mean Economic Stagnation

  1. Mark A

    I’ve been to NY.
    Half the people at least are too dumb even for manufacturing jobs.

    Too intelligent? Don’t make me laugh.

  2. Bruce of Newcastle

    This is rubbish.

    That a country like Australia doesn’t do manufacturing isn’t because we’ve gone upwards to some more enlightened plane of existence, it just means we can’t do it economically anymore.

    Germany does heaps of manufacturing. They do so because of the type of manufacturing (eg high precision equipment) and way they do it.

    If Australia removed the vast dead hand of government from the manufacturing sector we would manufacture stuff here too. We have the entrepreneurial talent, like Austal, who sells ships to the US Navy. Which they build in the US. Say no more.

    Here we have bureaucracy gone mad. You have to have thousands of bits of paper to set up an operation. Oodles of government departments persecute business people over everything from the right number of fire extinguishers to the LGBTI policy in the workplace. Electricity is nigh on the most expensive in the world. How can anyone make anything in that environment? Holden and Toyota certainly couldn’t.

    Boot the red and green tape, taxes and anticapitalist persecution and just watch manufacturing flourish in Australia.

    And, yes, we can do software and new age industries too. It isn’t ‘either/or’.

  3. Tel

    This article studiously ignores the entire union movement… and the powerful people who supported those unions (e.g. FDR).

  4. Ray

    What absolute drivel. Manufacturing jobs are lost for one reason and one reason only, an inadequate level of domestic savings. This forces a country to rely upon net financial inflows which means there must be a current account deficit to balance the international accounts.

    The US government has exported its manufacturing jobs simply because it could not control its own deficit and could not rely upon private savings to make up the difference. It is to be lamented that our own government has chosen to replicate these mistakes over the past decade.

    As for not going backwards, this is true to a point. Not because there is anything wrong with manufacturing itself, but due to the fact that, once lost, the know-how necessary to maintain a manufacturing sector is very hard to recover.

    More importantly, we should not look at manufacturing as yesterday’s industry. A strong manufacturing sector is not inconsistent with high skills, high output and high education. Technological innovation in the factory can create high paid and high skilled careers, all that is required is a degree of certainty which modern governments remove through their constant regulatory interference and excessive taxation.

    It is government which has killed manufacturing in the US and Australia and it is incompetence by government which continues to prevent its revival.

  5. Will

    Manufacturing jobs are not only making widgefs in a widget factory. There are very high value jobs in pharmaceutical pharmaceuticals, aerospace, and petrochemical industries that need MAGA

  6. Mark A

    Ray
    #2497090, posted on September 14, 2017 at 6:29 am
    More importantly, we should not look at manufacturing as yesterday’s industry. A strong manufacturing sector is not inconsistent with high skills, high output and high education. Technological innovation in the factory can create high paid and high skilled careers, all that is required is a degree of certainty which modern governments remove through their constant regulatory interference and excessive taxation.

    Well said Ray, as BoN remarked, Germany and practically the whole of central Europe is full of industries engaged in manufacturing.

    Get rid of the shackles imposed by governments and see how it flourishes.

  7. struth

    This guy is obviously an insulated townie.

    NFI.

    A city is part of a country.
    It cannot be looked at as a separate entiy regarding it’s economy.
    When all the manufacturing to supply it is done outside the country, from food to dunny rolls andit is not a trading hub then supplying each other with overpriced cappuccino and calling yourself too smart to make stuff is about as dumb as it gets.

  8. Tel

    That manufacturing long ago departed New York is a sign of the city’s immense wealth. The average worker in New York City is too valuable and too talented to waste on assembly inside a factory.

    Here’s a concrete example of why that style of analysis will reliably give the wrong answer.

    I was listening to the Peter Schiff explain that his first job was working in a supermarket as a “bagger” — this is putting shopping into bags for customers to keep the checkout moving along. He was lamenting that such jobs no longer exist, and they haven’t been replaced with automation, they just let the customers put their own shopping into bags these days (and pay for each bag on top of that).

    The “bagger” wages have never been good, the work was completely menial and unskilled… Schiff is certainly a talented man, so why does he celebrate his opportunity to do shitty work like that? Well, he was young at the time, didn’t know a whole lot, you have to start somewhere, and he needed the money. It was his first rung on the ladder, and he got to learn skills like turning up on time, being polite to people, getting to see how a business operates, etc.

    New York is a big city, but the toilets still need cleaning, the floors need a sweep or a vacuum, someone needs to wash all the underpants and socks and hang them up to dry… thousands of shitty jobs exist that need to get done. A city is not made from average people. A city contains many individual people at various different skill levels, and it’s always going to be like that.

  9. John Constantine

    Educate the lazy and corrupt people, until they feel too entitled to actually work, then turn them loose to construct crony ‘crime of opportunity’ looting positions for themselves.

    Australias ruinable energy diworsification of the economy is due to the corruptocracy taking over from the meriticracy.

    Underpinning the economy by importing mass loads of debt, then pretending to service the debt by importing the most corrupt people the world has to offer, complete with the loot they have taken from their place of origin, plus importing the corrupt culture that enabled them to loot so much money originally. How smart is this?.

    Indoctrinating corrupt and lazy pricks into feeling they are too good to work and fit only to loot is how we got into this trillion dollar, deindustrialising, de-electrifying, over-regulated compliant blackout roulette of an economy.

    Still, once de-industrialised and supplied with million dollar mortgages, the indoctrinated corruptocracy that makes up the bottom of the Ponzi pyramid can’t even afford to breed, so must import their own replacements, so there will be an end to them.

    Everybody that benefits from a Ponzi scheme feels it is unstoppable, all they need is enough debt to enable another layer of the pyramid to be recruited.

    How long did it take australia to become a debtor economy?. How long did it take australia to become so indebted it cannot ever escape the grip of the international organisational looting forces that keep presenting surrender documents for compliance?.

    Import the most corrupt people in the world to buy overpriced mansions in Sydney, in the hope that australians will get good clean jobs shuffling paper and enabling the culture of corruption, and that the whole system will magically reach a tipping point that will no longer require continued supply of the international corruptocracy and their mafia wealth.

    The imported kleptocrats cannot take their overpriced mansions back to their corrupt hellholes, but they can import their bags of cash corruption with them–look at the way australias politicians line up for their brown paper bags of cash so they can sell us out for kopecks in the kohinoor.

    Too smart to work.

    Sums up the Australian Ponzi Gulag in one slogan.

  10. Scavenger

    I am not an “economist”, but even a neville nobody like me can see that half of what he said is bull, and the other half is shit. Smart city folk like him just shuffle wealth around. They don’t create it. Some schmuck on a factory floor somewhere probably contributed to the creation of the wealth he shuffles.

  11. Tel

    What absolute drivel. Manufacturing jobs are lost for one reason and one reason only, an inadequate level of domestic savings. This forces a country to rely upon net financial inflows which means there must be a current account deficit to balance the international accounts.

    Although lack of savings can be a problem, it’s not the thing holding Australia back. We have massive private savings in Super funds, and up until Kevin ’07 the proud fiscal conservative we had hardly any government debt. Indeed, even after a decade of squander-monkey governance and government spending hand over fist we still have low government debt by world standards.

    Japan for example has about the largest government debt in the history of the world and they are still a manufacturing powerhouse and also an export powerhouse to the point where even as Abe-san has gone the full banzai trying everything possible to destroy the value of the Japanese Yen… it still comes back! That’s not to say Japan has no internal problems, but their factories are still vibrant and productive.

  12. Entropy

    This article assumes everyone has the same capacity, skill set and interests. Labour is an infinitely malleable unit. In other words the world is a model.
    This sort of analysis is a useful arguing point but if an idiot politician were to try to implement policy along these lines he would more rapidly than you think find his country being beholden to others with more diverse economies.

  13. sfw

    Bruce, you nailed it. This tosser has no idea of how to grow an economy, he seems to think that large numbers of people sitting around moving (electronic) paper makes an economy, so wrong. What makes us richer is better, more efficient ways of producing the goods and services that people want and/or need. That’s it, nothing else.

    How do deluded tossers like him manage to put food on the table?

  14. struth

    A lack of change in the kind of work we do, is a sign of economic decline.

    Very interesting about Afghanistan is its evolution, or lack thereof. In a recent snapshot of the dysfunctional country, New York Times reporter Rod Nordland noted that “It is striking how little the rural Afghan landscape has changed between the early 19th and 21st centuries. The mud-walled fortifications of those days can still be seen throughout the country, and some of them are still in use as military facilities today.”

    No, no no.

    A bad culture and no western style capitalism, Islam are the reasons for the stagnation.
    The stagnation of farming practices, industry and technology etc didn’t cause the problems in Afghanistan.
    The problems in Afghanistan caused the stagnation of farming practices, industry and technology etc.

  15. Blind Freddie

    If you don’t have the the imagination to work out what Jon Tamney”s paradise looks like, watch an early production of Oliver Twist, or check the death toll on the second fleet. Altenatively, check the mortality rate in children and life expentancy in the eigthteen hundreds and consider your family’s history of white supremacy and its links to poverty and the poor house.
    Instead of turning their collective noses up at almost any job, Tameny and his misguided peers, who have a white heritage and is confused by being villified as as a misoginist, homophobe or whatever should stop and think.
    Then take a look at their family’s roots which for more than 95% of will be steeped in griding poverty.

  16. Tel

    The problems in Afghanistan caused the stagnation of farming practices, industry and technology etc.

    Being constantly at war with imperial powers invading left right and center, might have shifted their priorities away from tractor upgrades.

  17. Alexi the Conservative Russian

    The author is like my Federal Liberal member (Laundry), totally divorced from reality. He would be a welcome guest speaker at both the Liberal and Labor annual meetings. Didn’t they just make a movie called La La Land? Yes, was he in it?

  18. Rebel with cause

    I hear from so many employers that they would love to take another person on but just can’t afford to with the wage rates set so high. Conversely, there are an awful lot of young Australians, particularly from the disadvantaged areas, that apply and apply for jobs and get nowhere and eventually give up.

    I pity the unemployed Australian. There’s not much hope for you when faced with the cold hard fact that your labour is worth less than what a bureaucrat thinks it should be.

  19. Diogenes

    This article assumes everyone has the same capacity, skill set and interests. Labour is an infinitely malleable unit. In other words the world is a model.

    + infinity
    Also what the highest paid & most valuable New Yorkers do is is the equivalent of every woman in the village doing every other woman’s washing, while sending hers out

  20. Justin

    New Yorkers are so intelligent and productive they have gone from manufacturing to hospitality. Flipping burgers and making bad coffee is apparently economic progress!!

  21. Gavin R Putland

    Tamny:

    [M]anufacturing jobs would be a waste of the skills of NYC’s inhabitants. As Ken Auletta long ago put it about New York, “For those with talent, this city is the final test.”

    Skill’s for what? Talent for what. Getting rich without producing anything, apparently.

    The average worker in New York City is too valuable and too talented to waste on assembly inside a factory.

    Valuable to his/her employer? Presumably. Valuable to the country as a whole? Fallacy of composition.

    [L]ow factory pay around the world is the market’s way of telling us that the human element of assembly is no longer as crucial as it once was.

    Then we’d better get busy designing the machines that actually do the work. Oops, Germany and Japan have beaten us to that. And there’s nothing to stop us from running those machines in our own country. Oops, ditto.

    More realistically, New York City booms today precisely because it’s no longer #1 in manufacturing.

    New York booms in spite of its lack of manufacturing, because it’s so good at creating bullshit jobs in which people get rich by sponging off the chumps who actually produce stuff.

    Factory work conducted by humans is increasingly a yesterday concept.

    Getting rich by producing goods and services that people want is increasingly a yesterday concept.

    struth at #2497095:

    [S]upplying each other with overpriced cappuccino and calling yourself too smart to make stuff is about as dumb as it gets.

    Fair comment, but the real damage is done by trading (not “supplying”) the existing stock of overpriced housing. We can go without cappuccinos if we must.

  22. Mother Lode

    I wonder how New York would fare without the rest of the US – especially those parts that manufacture?

  23. A number of others including Bruce Ray and Tel said it better than I could.
    However I’ll add the following:-

    1-) Afghanistan: Rural people live in fortifications for one main reason, TO KEEP THE WOMEN SAFE INSIDE. Girl kidnapping between tribes and families has always been a common practice. No woman or girl ventures outside of these fortifications without male company and only then very rarely.

    2-) Countries like the US and Australia import tens of thousands of refugees who don’t speak the lingo nor do they have much skills. The odd manufacturing job in a modern plant would go a long way for these people. Young locals who are not academic and who don’t wish to go to uni would also benefit.

    3-) The author is a fuckwit.

  24. stevem

    The alleged “loss” of a certain form of work would never signal a city’s deterioration.

    That is only true where the lost forms of work are replaced with something more profitable. Replacing highly productive factories by employing their workers as baristas and burger flippers is not a good thing. The whole article seems to assume that anything is better than manufacturing.
    The point the the big city “elites” missed with the Trump election is the the manufacturing jobs have been lost and not replaced, and the author is no different.

  25. True Aussie

    A rentseeker decries real work as bad. News at 6.

  26. True Aussie

    The “bagger” wages have never been good, the work was completely menial and unskilled… Schiff is certainly a talented man, so why does he celebrate his opportunity to do shitty work like that? Well, he was young at the time, didn’t know a whole lot, you have to start somewhere, and he needed the money. It was his first rung on the ladder, and he got to learn skills like turning up on time, being polite to people, getting to see how a business operates, etc.

    This is a perfect explanation of why low skilled immigration is screwing over young people. No more entry level jobs.

  27. Wilma

    Funny how the Industrial revolution and its cascading wealth all happened with out economists telling them how to do it.

  28. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    Being constantly at war with imperial powers invading left right and center, might have shifted their priorities away from tractor upgrades.

    They have tractors in Afghanishitistan? They dont have any in Cambodia.

  29. Jo Smyth

    Everything has to be manufactured from cars to cutlery. If we don’t do it someone else does, just ask the Chinese.

  30. mareeS

    Spoken by a true New Yorker, John Tammy, from a place that makes nothing and is afraid to deviate from the politically correct norm.

    Unfortunately, our urban capitals Sydney and Melbourne are following your cue, excelling in coffee and little else, producing paperwork.

  31. RobK

    Firstly, as Gavin says, having no manufacturing means NY is living off the toil of others, mitigating risk, derivatives, arbitrage etc. With practice they become good at it.
    Secondly, and following on from that, I see innovation as occurring in two more or less distinctive forms: 1) the subtle tweak of a skilled practitioner refining a small step of a process well known, 2) the disruptive game changer, either derived from developments in other fields, serendipity and on occasion nothing other than the drive and passion of an individual to challenge the insurmountable.
    New York thrives on facilitating, but not getting hands dirty. Its practitioners have become good at it. They are also good at ring fencing their industries against competition using regulatory impost.

  32. old bloke

    New York lost its manufacturing base partly due to race riots from the 1960’s onwards. You won’t find even a small supermarket nowadays in Harlem for example, they were all burned down or looted so frequently so that no one bothers there any more. Anyone who lives there these days has to travel downtown to find work, you’ll find them at Macy’s where they refuse to serve you.

    The manufacturers moved out of New York to other places where real estate and insurance costs are more reasonable, and where the local populace is less likely to burn your investment to the ground.

  33. Infidel Tiger

    New Yorkers still make trillions from manufacturing. Mainly bullshit. The rest they outsource to the third world.

  34. JC

    What do people define as “New York”? If you consider the tri-state area as “New York” then there is a ton of manufacturing going on. New Jersey is the world capital for pharma production, for instance.

    The ease of mass transportation made it easier for NYC to become the CBD for the rest of the region.

    No biggie in understanding this.

  35. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    I mean it clearly is so much smarter to send all our manufacturing to a communist dictatorship.

    What could possible go wrong?

  36. mh

    Why do we have to keep seeing the photos of the fuckwits who write this shite?

  37. JC

    Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)
    #2497318, posted on September 14, 2017 at 11:40 am

    I mean it clearly is so much smarter to send all our manufacturing to a communist dictatorship.

    What could possible go wrong?

    Nothing goes wrong, Zipperhead. The US is the largest manufacturer in the world. It’s just that you hanker for the 20s when the garment industry in NYC was hopping and bopping.

    ——

    In any event with more automation more manufacturing will find it’s way back to the US.

  38. mh

    The Wall Street bailout meant that fuckwits like Tamny never learnt their lesson.

  39. mareeS

    Further to Toffee Tammy, there are so few productive people now that our son and his mates make millions FIFO all over Australia and Asia due to their particular skills, work hard for a while and then have months off with their families in Asia instead of driving 2hrs each way every day. It isn’t ideal, but better than sitting in a car every day.

  40. Bruce in WA

    I hear from so many employers that they would love to take another person on but just can’t afford to with the wage rates set so high.

    Heard from an employer friend of mine when the WA budget handed down increased payroll taxes (paraphrasing): “FMD! Well, wonder how many people I’ll have to make redundant to offset this!”

  41. dan

    Huh? There are something like 100,000 manufacturing jobs in NYC. Most have declined, some trend upwards slightly. New York State has hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. Numbers have declined a lot but 1 million to 500,000 is a quantitative difference, not a qualitative one. And there are probably millions of service jobs dependent on the manufacturing sector.

    Saying manufacturing is dumb work is as ignorant as say that mining just involves digging holes, not recognising the depth of technology and innovation needed in that sector now.

  42. dan

    New York lost its manufacturing base partly due to race riots from the 1960’s onwards. You won’t find even a small supermarket nowadays in Harlem for example, they were all burned down or looted so frequently so that no one bothers there any more. Anyone who lives there these days has to travel downtown to find work, you’ll find them at Macy’s where they refuse to serve you.

    The manufacturers moved out of New York to other places where real estate and insurance costs are more reasonable, and where the local populace is less likely to burn your investment to the ground.

    Umm…just…no. I was there a couple of months ago. There are massive shiny shopping centres, shiny public hospitals that make your average Melbourne public hospital look a public toilet, and house prices are skyrocketing. Restaurants are busy. Most areas are completely safe. No race riots or burning down of anything.

    While many people travel downtown to ‘find’ work, it’s because there are super-easy commutes by subway even with the general state NY public transport is in, and still much cheaper than further down in Manhattan. It’s called ‘commuting’.

  43. Sean

    I’d say a lot of Trump voters pinched from the Dems would swap growth for the return of manufacturing jobs they found to be enjoyable.

  44. max

    Unfortunately he did not use good example.

    He should use agriculture jobs to explain what is happening.

    A little over two centuries ago, nearly 90% of the population worked in agriculture. This percentage has declined to just above 2%, while output today is orders of magnitude greater

    http://www.acting-man.com/?p=32628

    There is other factors as well.

    The U.S. has lost manufacturing jobs, and it is not due to increases in productivity in manufacturing or because there is a natural maturation into a services economy. The main reason is the freeing up of labor forces in Asia, particularly China, due to their political reforms.
    https://mises.org/blog/why-us-has-lost-manufacturing-jobs

    there are certainly some “unfair” forces at work against the manufacturing industry, and the federal government claims responsibility for most of them. The regulatory burden placed upon manufacturers leaves them at a severe disadvantage with the rest of the global playing field. Countries that don’t have the list of draconian environmental and workplace regulations, not to mention mandated benefits and compulsory unionization, reap the benefits of flexibility.

    https://mises.org/library/bogeyman-lost-jobs

  45. Rob MW

    Just when you thought it couldn’t get any stupider up pops this guy.
    My answer: If you don’t eat, you don’t shit, and if you don’t shit, you die. What would cause NY to no longer shit ? – An unforseen market (overseas or domestic) intervention, although, unprocessed cockroaches would look good to the hungry.

  46. Barry 1963

    I saw a film clip of late 60s Australia. An Australian made toaster was on sale for $13.95. In nominal dollars you pay less for a Chinese made toaster almost 50 years later. That sum would have been 2-3 days wages in the late 60s, today it’s 15-20 minutes’ pay. We’re all better off with China making this sort of stuff.

  47. J.H.

    Hmmm…… Are these the same people that say that government mandated, regulated, subsidized, intermittent, inefficient and non base load Solar and Wind powered electricity is sustainable and cost effective and the way of the future?

    Productivity is the reality…. Unless someone is actually creating/making something within a free enterprise system and someone else is actually buying it on a free market and putting it to productive use, your society is simply living a subsistence existence or being extorted by its political class into subsistence servitude.

    Like Mao’s China…. You can pretend that productivity is booming, but unless that is actually true, the people outside of the political class are starving and destitute.

  48. Leo G

    … plus manufacturing jobs would be a waste of the skills of NYC’s inhabitants.

    The most common jobs in New York City are retail salespeople, office clerks, janitors and cleaners (8% of total employed).

  49. GoWest

    Thank you John – We always wondered why there are so many bums in our big cities, now we know why.

  50. True Aussie

    Further to Toffee Tammy, there are so few productive people now that our son and his mates make millions FIFO all over Australia and Asia due to their particular skills, work hard for a while and then have months off with their families in Asia instead of driving 2hrs each way every day. It isn’t ideal, but better than sitting in a car every day.

    What skills would they be? I am betting they are never told to high school students by ‘career counsellors’

  51. egg_

    The barista fuelled Economy?
    Till they’re replaced by barista-bots who make 77 flavours of latte?

  52. egg_

    Funny how the Industrial revolution and its cascading wealth all happened with out economists telling them how to do it.

    Comment of the fred.

    No ‘dirty jerbs’ for Gen cupcake?

  53. egg_

    In nominal dollars you pay less for a Chinese made toaster almost 50 years later. That sum would have been 2-3 days wages in the late 60s, today it’s 15-20 minutes’ pay. We’re all better off with China making this sort of stuff.

    The Chinese made toaster is a consumable item and doesn’t have replaceable elements, as did electric jugs of the era.

    In contrast, a Local Council bought a Chinese made ute that had to be recalled due to dangerous battery shorting issues resulting in a constantly flat battery – productivity NOT!

  54. Tel

    3-) The author is a fuckwit.

    That’s a bit harsh, you can disagree with someone while keeping it polite you know.

    No need to act like your on Twitter.

  55. mh

    In his 2006 autobiography, The Age of Turbulence, Greenspan recalled….

    That was the year Alan Greenspan stood down as as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Just before the housing crash that left millions of Americans in grinding poverty while Wall Street got bailed out. Fair dinkum.

  56. Nato

    Yeah. What they said.
    Plus, the Flint example. How many small towns would kill for Flint levels of manufacturing?

  57. Oh come on

    There is some truth to what this guy’s saying and in the long run he is probably right – ie. even high skill manufacturing will require very few humans to operate at some point in the future – but for the time being there most certainly is much to be gained from attracting certain kinds of manufacturing that’s moved offshore. Take one of the quintessential MAGA industries that Trump promised to bring back to the States – making cars. There is still plenty of good money to be made for at least the next decade as a worker in the automotive industry. Provide the low regulation, low tax environment for the auto brands to make their cars in in their biggest market and that’s where they’ll move their manufacturing operations – plenty of good money for the car makers to be made from such an investment, too.

    So yes, in the long term the job prospects for workers on the assembly lines of automotive manufacturers are likely pretty poor. But in the meantime…and certainly between now and the end of a second Trump term…they could become a helluva lot better in the US. Why wouldn’t Trump do what he can to make this happen?

  58. Oh come on

    There are lots of headaches for non-Chinese firms currently taking advantage of cheap Chinese labour. Constant intellectual property concerns. An opaque and largely impenetrable legal system. Corruption. Those Chinese New Year bonuses for various authorities that come a-knocking at that time of year won’t pay for themselves. Political meddling (yes your foreign company will need a CCP political cell to operate freely within your organisation, possibly against your interests – you will accept this and like it).

    But it’s been worth it due to the cheap labour. Thing is, the labour ain’t so cheap anymore and this expense is heading in only one direction. Other countries (even developed countries) where you don’t have these kinds of complications are looking increasingly competitive as manufacturing destinations.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Australia could be one of those destinations.

  59. Tel

    Constant intellectual property concerns. An opaque and largely impenetrable legal system. Corruption. Those Chinese New Year bonuses for various authorities that come a-knocking at that time of year won’t pay for themselves. Political meddling (yes your foreign company will need a CCP political cell to operate freely within your organisation, possibly against your interests – you will accept this and like it).

    Those Chinese have even made it feel like home for Australian CEO’s.

    Will they stop at nothing?

  60. Chris M

    I’ve purchased many thousands of dollars of high tech machinery from a manufacturing plant in NYC. And just across the river is a massive amount of industry in New Jersey, I buy custom made machinery from a company there also.

    This guy has apparently never looked across the river or walked further than Central Park. Our prosperous green future lays in Coffee Shops and Yoga classes.

  61. rickw

    Brilliant people make cities and states prosperous, and the brilliant long ago put factory work in the rear-view mirror. So have American workers of all stripes left manufacturing employment behind. It doesn’t pay enough.

    We live in world full of manufactured products.

    If manufacturing is passé, why has Chinese wealth burgeoned and American wealth stagnated?

    This article is horse shit of the highest order.

  62. egg_

    The current global model of manufacturing for the last few decades seems to have been that even if you offshore the factory labour, you keep the R&D, Distribution Chain and Aftermarket Support at home – that’s where the money is, whether they’re shiny arses in New York, or not.

  63. yarpos

    Manufacturing left Detroit also, are we expected to believe that only the productive intelligentsia remain?

  64. iain russell

    Pity Afghanistan is not still Buddhist and Hindu. The murderous invasions of the Muslims led to the extinction of both communities – genocide.

  65. Leo G

    Brilliant people make cities and states prosperous, and the brilliant long ago put factory work in the rear-view mirror.

    Degree factories long ago put brilliant people in the rear-view mirror. Cities or states which eschew production (or fertility) for prosperity won’t prosper for long.

  66. John of Mel

    Manufacturing left Detroit also, are we expected to believe that only the productive intelligentsia remain

    That’s gold! You, sir have won the Internet for yesterday.

  67. EvilElvis

    The “bagger” wages have never been good, the work was completely menial and unskilled… Schiff is certainly a talented man, so why does he celebrate his opportunity to do shitty work like that? Well, he was young at the time, didn’t know a whole lot, you have to start somewhere, and he needed the money. It was his first rung on the ladder, and he got to learn skills like turning up on time, being polite to people, getting to see how a business operates, etc.

    This is a perfect explanation of why low skilled immigration is screwing over young people. No more entry level jobs.

    Award wages, workers comp, easy welfare, shit upbringing from predominantly single mother families and a pile of other regulatory shite is the reason. No immigrant has ever applied for a job at my business, albeit, we are in a country town, not Sydney or Melbourne. I’d happily downsize my crew and pay the real workers I have more if I wasn’t getting fucked in other ways.

    I concur with all thoughts that the author is a fuckwit. You can’t see the forest for the trees when your existence is supported by workers taxes in your big productive city. Pick any major company based there and be sure that not one ounce of there production is based there or made there.

  68. mh

    John Tamny is a Forbes contributor, editor of RealClearMarkets

    Wiki told me that RealClearPolitics also owns RealClearMarkets. Remember RealClearPolitics in 2016? Trump could not win the Primaries. RealClearPolitics got it wrong. Then Trump could not win the Presidency. RealClearPolitics got it wrong again.

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