Then and Now -- Manufacturing
One thing that has definitely changed in the past 50 years is where our manufactured goods are made. It used to be that everything from steel to textiles to shoes to cars was made right here at home, but that has all changed.
Fifty years ago, anything not made here was relegated to the category of flimsy toys made in Japan or overpriced European goods. We were basically self-sufficient.
But over the years as the cost of labor skyrocketed, manufacturers found cheaper labor next door in Mexico and then in India and finally in the various countries of Asia, where most every piece of clothing we wear today is made. We simply can’t compete with women who are willing to sew for a few dollars a day.
The same thing has happened with the auto industry, even with American brands like Ford. In fact, it is hard to find a car today made exclusively either in this country or outside its borders. Ford has assembly plants in Mexico and Honda assembles some of its cars here in the US. The bottom line is how to make things for the least cost and sell them for the biggest profit.
The labor unions today that were once founded to protect the American worker have had to sit by and watch more and more of the work taken elsewhere. They are like cumbersome giants bound for the old folks’ home.
It’s not necessarily the American economy that is suffering the most from this move to manufacturing overseas, but rather the blue collar worker whose job has now been outsourced to someone who works for much less money. It’s that worker who is now unemployed or must be retrained to do another job here at home or must be willing to take a huge salary cut, something probably not acceptable to the particular union.
It’s a dilemma that only gets worse as developing countries take on more and more of the work previously done here. As the gap in labor cost widens, the dilemma only gets worse.