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Old 2013-01-02, 19:40   Link #3584
Knight Errant
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Age: 29
[QUOTE=Anh_Minh;4497970]They won't be (they already aren't) the cheapest in the world, but they'll still be cheaper than Western workers.

And even if that wasn't the case... That'd mean higher wages for some other third world countries. It still wouldn't bring the jobs back to the West.
[quote] One thing to bear in mind is that economics is not a zero sum game. One region of the world doing well does not mean that another region will be harmed.

And as I said, wage costs are only a small part of the story.
Two points:
- they aren't beating them now.
- what "uneducated Chinese farm boys"? Why are you talking like that's all China has to offer? What they have is a vast array of variously trained workers who, for equal training, are much cheaper than their Western counterparts. They can make quality (though maybe not top quality), if the money's right. They can also make crap, if that's all the retailers in the west are willing to pay for. Labeling is... negotiable.
1. They could be, and many of our industries are. Most of them are not consumer goods though, but much more valuable and more complex things (like power generators, trains, cars, buses, machine tools, satellites...)
It's not just about wages. Our social model is expensive. So are various environmental laws.
You know what's expensive? Chinese corruption. Also, if they don't enact our environmental laws soon the Chinese will be finding their workers spending a 1/4 of the year at home in bed with lung disease.

As for our welfare and social services, we all know it could be made more efficient. We often get too little for what we spend, as money is siphoned off into inefficient services and private interests.
It doesn't matter, though. The point is, you're right: the Chinese are better than we are at getting the goods out for cheap. That's actually an argument for protectionism: if you can't win, don't play. So until and unless someone comes up with a way to turn superior knowledge of American (or in the case of my country, French) history into a decisive industrial advantage, protectionism seems the way to go.
If you want that, then prepare to be poorer, as the only goods you're able to buy are shoddy domestic products who have no desire whatsoever to improve what they provide to you, the consumer. All the while the rest of the world rushes ahead, and Europe(or America) becomes a "has been" continent.

That's fine when you want quality. Maybe. But for a lot of things, quality's just a luxury.
It is incorrect to equate quality with cost. Often some of the cheapest goods are also the highest quality, in that they are extremely reliable. With so called "luxury" products, what you're really buying is an inefficient "hand crafted" production process, which outside the fuzzy world of romance is no better then a normal "mid range" product (I'll admit that the cheapest of the cheap is often quite unreliable). For example, I have a "mid-range" set of boots I bought for $100 that I have worn constantly for 4 years, and they're still in fantastic shape(and ultimately probably better value then the 40$ pair that only lasts a year). I doubt a $2000 pair of hand made boots would be at all better.

Equating "quality" with cost is a mistake you make when thinking in terms of hand made production or old style mass production. In both quality is indeed expensive, as the quality of the product is proportional to the amount of time spent repairing defects after it has been produced. Modern manufacturing focuses on not manufacturing any defective products in the first place, and so "quality" comes, basically, for free(as little time is spent in repairing defects).
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