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    U.S. Greenhouse Gases Drop To 1990s Levels - And Why That's Bad
    By Hank Campbell | April 19th 2011 04:25 PM | 26 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    When European politicians picked a target date for greenhouse gas emissions in the Kyoto accord, American environmentalists applauded despite the motivation - economic harm for the US with little to Europe, since Germany simply had to scuttle Soviet-era factories they acquired in the re-merger with East Germany and France switched to more nuclear power in order to try and meet their CO2 targets.

    Anyone unemployed. losing a house or watching their 401K stagnate now sees why claims about creating a 'green' economic engine that could be created quickly were regarded with derision in some corners and concern in some others.    Greenhouse gas emissions are down, to 6,633m metric tons - 1995 levels - and Standard&Poor’s just cut its outlook on US sovereign debt from “stable” to “negative”, due to rising deficits brought on by continued spending despite no valid expectation the revenue curve will meet obligations.    We have less manufacturing, less fuel usage, less everything.

    Picking on manufacturing has been the default pastime of activists who regard industry as the enemy of nature.   But sending manufacturing to friendlier countries has done nothing for emissions or climate change - China now just leads the world in both manufacturing and pollution and is an economic powerhouse - and current EPA rules, much less more aggressive ones such as in California, are so onerous to business we can basically never recover in the current political climate.

    Republican are going to make political hay with the news about lower emissions, of course, and try to strip the EPA of the ability to regular carbon emissions - problem solved, they will claim, no more need to regulate - and that isn't really a solution, but certainly the cultural vilification of business, including by Republicans who passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and made it downright dangerous to run a public company, further driving up the salaries of CEOs, along with increasing the costs to do business in the US at all, needs to stop.     Net government debt will exceed 70 per cent of GDP - there is no way that can be a good thing and the belief that the government can reallocate wealth to fix things has been proven wrong in every country that has tried.   

    America is getting beat by foreign countries (not just places like Bermuda either, but places like Ireland) and it hasn't helped the atmosphere one bit.  Certainly we need to find better sources of energy so that people everywhere can enjoy a better life - I am not a big believer in mitigation efforts by rich countries and populations that already have great lives and want to prevent poor countries from having better lives also - but the responsibility for future energy technology does not need to fall solely on American scientists or the American economy. 

    As Earth Day approaches, look for exaggerated claims about how bad things are with the environment and Doomsday Clocks and similar nonsense - in reality, we could actually do with a little more in the way of greenhouse gas emissions in 2011.

    Comments

    There are ways of boosting manufacturing and the economy without regressing into19th century-type emissions. For starters how about making a more serious effort towards filtering CO2?
    Hank
    Sure, no one is advocating London of the 1890s or Pittsburgh of the 1950s, though neither of those had CO2 problems so highlighting one emission would be shortsighted.  However, we've regulated manufacturing out of the country (in the US) and there is no way to get it back in the current regulatory climate because we didn't run businesses out of the country saying they had to be cleaner, we ran them out of the country saying they had to be impossibly clean.

    I was in a Wal-Mart today and the checkout guy gave me a pretty good overview of the situation because I asked how a wireless Blu-Ray player could be $68.   A union boss might insist greedy outsourcing is the culprit while an executive might say unions want janitors to make $50 an hour but a Wal-Mart checkout guy noted people would pay $100 for that machine, and Americans can produce a machine for $100, but a state like California makes it impossible to start a factory to do it with environmental regulations and paperwork.  

    We did all of the IP here for what I can see in a Blu-Ray player.   It was not Taiwanese, much less Chinese, engineers.  It wasn't even Japanese engineers at Sony and Panasonic, the companies behind Blu-Ray today, they all simply did what Asia does well - system integration.  But as clean as semiconductor fabs can be, there are none in California today because they can never be clean enough.

    What governments do is pass a law or standard and then demand business meet it or get out.  Your idea is a good one but, speaking in California only, the solution to smoking in restaurants was not to create a ventilation standard for smoke, it was to ban smoking. 1,000 bars and restaurants that did not have outdoor areas for smokers had to close because the government mandated an unfair competitive advantage to some and their customers disappeared.   Obviously a ventilation standard would have prevented that from happening.  Want to run for governor here???

    Not having globally uniform environmental standards definitely has negative repercussions. For example, a good deal of the electronics that people send to Canadian recycling centers are shipped overseas, and wastes from gold scavengers end up in Chinese rivers. And as you pointed out, what the French and Germans did to meet carbon dioxide goals was scandalous. Also, what is the flip-side of the argument that if President Reagan had not short-fused an excellent alternative energy program (one created in response to the oil crisis of the 1970's) we would be 30 years ahead of where we are right now? It was articulated during a recent PBS special on the history of the environmental movement, but I have not had the time to explore it further.
    Hank
    Also, what is the flip-side of the argument that if President Reagan had not short-fused an excellent alternative energy program (one created in response to the oil crisis of the 1970's) we would be 30 years ahead of where we are
    I have made the case in the past that the only good thing in a disastrous Carter presidency was his synthetic fuel idea.   I would argue that it was directly responsible for sending the price of oil (in today's money, equivalent to $100) plummeting to one third of that.   After 6 years and zero progress, though, Reagan was not wrong for canceling it, the problem had gone away and no solution was in sight - just like continuing to hit golf balls badly will not make you a better golfer if you spend more money on clubs and still do it wrong.

    But I agree had we been on track to do something, it would be terrific.  It might be worthwhile today to try again, but that would require environmental lobbyists to get off the 'subsidize lousy wind vanes' idea - more rubbish from the same people who endorsed ethanol for 15 years.
    Gerhard Adam
    I'm not entirely convinced that the business argument can be reduced to environmental issues that easily.  We tend to forget that there are/were a lot of business interrelationships that helped determine some of these outcomes, and a considerable amount of corporate arrogance towards consumers.

    The classic example was the automobile industry which managed to create expensive vehicles that weren't very well manufactured and then after-sales service was even worse.  The Japanese manufacturers came in and demonstrated that it didn't have to be that way, so the automobile industry got their asses kicked.  Instead of recognizing the problem, they began to strong-arm steel manufacturers and others to try and reduce cost, thinking that they could get the American consumer back by price alone.  While GM, Ford, and Chrysler were closing plants, the Japanese (and other manufacturers) were opening plants in this country.

    Certainly some of it could be argued as being due to union costs, but it is important to remember that the mentality was "if it's good for GM, it's good for the country".  They shared their largesse thinking that it would never end.

    Most businesses (and the government) never understand the importance of service and instead they always focus on cheapness.  Apparently the thinking is that if people aren't doing business with you, it must be because you're too expensive.  This is clear when one considers the airline industry today, which seems to revel in the idea of abusing their passengers as much as is tolerable.  They then wonder why people that have to travel, despise it so much.  Most travelers (i.e. business) wouldn't mind paying a bit more if they were treated better, but apparently that's not part of the business model.

    This seems to hold true in many areas, where the entire business model seems to focus on cost alone, so that quality, service, integrity, etc. aren't considered as viable ways to run businesses.

    I do realize that there are exceptions, but if you take a look at the overall history of industry in this country, we see a blatant disregard for the consumer, being based on the implicit assumption that people are fundamentally stupid and will accept anything so long as its cheap.
    This disregard is readily visible in most businesses if you have to call someone to resolve a problem or complain.  You'll be lucky if you can find someone that actually answers the phone or speaks English.  It has been quite clear that businesses couldn't care less about you once they've made the sale because they recognize that in many cases, they have a captive audience and there's little or nothing anyone can do about it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "Engine Charlie" Wilson didn't say that. What he said was "I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors."

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Why can't each country simply put a carbon tax on imports from other countries based on those countries' position in an internationally recognized polluting countries hierarchy scale, and also based on how far they have to be transported to be imported? This would at least slightly level the playing field for cleaner, fairer domestic industries and labor markets that are currently competing with polluting, exploitative and often distant countries' industries and labour forces. It would also give every country an incentive to lower their position in the polluting countries hierarchy scale in order to boost their exports.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    Legislation and taxes are what created the problem.  Thinking that adding more will fix it is not logical.  But you could be governor of California.  :)
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    If taxes created the problem then surely they can also fix it and not simply by abolishing them?

    What we need are better taxes that compensate for inadequacies and inequalities that would occur in an anarchistic, taxless system. Without these the very young, pregnant, old and sick people are unable to survive or even compete fairly with able-bodied, healthy adults for available resources,and countries that pay decent wages and cut back on pollution are unable to compete fairly against countries that don't.

    There have always been taxes since civilizations began, even the Australian aborigines who had a very Marxist society used to tax other aborigines passing through their territory before they would give them a message stick to ensure their safe travel. To think that taxes caused the problem is surely too simplistic?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    No, the breakdown in your analogy is that the aborigines were not levying fees and then telling their hunters what they could hunt for, and where, and what size it had to be, and then taking 50% and then, when hunting disappeared, increasing levies on the hunters to compensate for the loss.    Saying that over-regulation caused a problem and therefore even more tinkering will fix the problem is, again, in defiance of economic history.  It has never worked.

    Other countries have become more business-friendly - not cheap labor, business friendly - while the US has become hostile.  California, for example, has agriculture as 9% of its exports and virtually the rest of its 'production' is digital.   That is dangerous in a state that has $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for government workers and no industry to generate the taxes.  Instead, California is reliant on a company like Altera to sell a chip it does not manufacture to a company that makes a real product (but is not in California - for example, Apple makes nothing in the US and would not be allowed under California laws at any reasonable price) and hope it is profitable and its employees sell stock options and pay more taxes than they otherwise would.   Anyone can see the danger in that.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Saying that over-regulation caused a problem and therefore even more tinkering will fix the problem is, again, in defiance of economic history.  It has never worked.
    Yes, I agree that over-regulation has caused a problem, if tinkering won't fix the problem then what will?

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Emissions growth vs. economics growth are not absolute covariants. Treating the two as such is intellectually dishonest--indeed, unscientific.
    As for government reallocating wealth to generate new industry growth being absolutely worthless, have you heard of this Internet thing? True, government reallocation of wealth doesn't always work, but it is extremely valuable in directing research and development capital to promising areas where the capital returns are going to extend out further than the next two or three fiscal quarters. So again, that argument is simplistic--indeed, unscientific.
    What I see here is more opinion based on unfounded opinion, of which we have far too much today.

    Hank
    The government had nothing to do with the success of the Internet.  It sat useless for 20 years as a curiosity, 5 places hooked together doing nothing.  Once the private sector found a way to make money at it, it took off.  Now, of course, the FCC wants to ruin it, because the government is running out of business sectors to wreck.

    And of course this is an opinion piece. It's a not a feature article, it says blog right up there - but opinions based on data have value.  And the economy has bottomed out, meaning fewer emissions because there is a lot less commerce - that is a bad thing when the debt continues to rise and the rating on debt is dropping, making it even more expensive for taxpayers.
    "Sat useless for 20 years": Well, I suppose that's your opinion of computer science and military defense research. But it would be interesting to see how you defend the uselessness of basic research and national security.

    When did a military and then research network become a public resource? When people serving in government saw its potential for becoming a massive driver for economic development. This is from the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991, co-authored by a guy named Gore that you may have heard of, though you doubtlessly despise him.

    (b) It is the purpose of Congress in this Act to help ensure the continued leadership of the United States in high -performance computing and its applications. This requires that the United States Government--

    (1) expand Federal support for research, development, and application of high -performance computing in order to--

    (A) establish a high -capacity national research and education computer network;

    (B) expand the number of researchers, educators, and students with training in high -performance computing and access to high -performance computing resources;

    (C) develop an information infrastructure of data bases, services, access mechanisms, and research facilities which is available for use through such a national network;

    (D) stimulate research on software technology;

    (E) promote the more rapid development and wider distribution of computer software tools and applications software;

    (F) accelerate the development of computer systems and subsystems;

    (G) provide for the application of high -performance computing to Grand Challenges; and

    (H) invest in basic research and education; and

    (2) improve planning and coordination of Federal research and development on high -performance computing .
    . . .

    SEC. 6. NATIONAL RESEARCH AND EDUCATION NETWORK.
    (h) Within one year after the date of enactment of this Act , the Director, through the Council, shall report to the Congress on--

    (1) effective mechanisms for providing operating funds for the maintenance and use of the Network, including user fees, industry support, and continued Federal investment;

    (2) plans for the eventual commercialization of the Network;

    (3) how commercial information service providers could be charged for access to the Network;

    (4) the technological feasibility of allowing commercial information service providers to use the Network and other federally funded research networks;

    (5) how Network users could be charged for such commercial information services;

    (6) how to protect the copyrights of material distributed over the Network; and

    (7) appropriate policies to ensure the security of resources available on the Network and to protect the privacy of users of networks.

    You can read a summary of the history of the results here.

    http://www.inetdaemon.com/tutorials/internet/history.shtml

    And that's leaving out the general sponsoring of expansion of the telecommunication network by the United States since the technology was developed, so that it has been widely available, rather than just available in the immediately profitable areas, and the funding of basic research into telecommunication technology as a social and national security issue.

    Were there no government-created and sponsored high-speed broadband backbone for corporations to use to connect end-users to databases providing content and services, private industry would not have attempted to do anything commercial with the internet. The development costs would have been far too great to build a network. And indeed, one of the weaker areas of the Internet today remains the last few miles from the hub to the consumer--companies don't like upgrading their networks without being able to extract rent (as an economist would say) well beyond the actual cost.

    Wireless is another answer, and the government has facilitated that by moving broadcast television to another area of the broadcast spectrum to facilitate wireless broadband growth--though television station owners are kicking and screaming to hold onto the freed spectrum--only valuable because the government regulates and polices broadcast access to that spectrum, ensuring that spectrum owners can use it without interference--because they figure they own that spectrum as property, rather than lease it--for free, effectively--as a license grantee.

    My objection to the article is that you don't provide data for your opinion at all--indeed, your opinion conflicts with the data. But it does match rather precisely with some of the least-informed political rhetoric of some partisan ideologues.

    "Sat useless for 20 years": Well, I suppose that's your opinion of computer science and military defense research. But it would be interesting to see how you defend the uselessness of basic research and national security.

    When did a military and then research network become a public resource? When people serving in government saw its potential for becoming a massive driver for economic development. This is from the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991, co-authored by a guy named Gore that you may have heard of, though you doubtlessly despise him.

    (b) It is the purpose of Congress in this Act to help ensure the continued leadership of the United States in high -performance computing and its applications. This requires that the United States Government--

    (1) expand Federal support for research, development, and application of high -performance computing in order to--

    (A) establish a high -capacity national research and education computer network;

    (B) expand the number of researchers, educators, and students with training in high -performance computing and access to high -performance computing resources;

    (C) develop an information infrastructure of data bases, services, access mechanisms, and research facilities which is available for use through such a national network;

    (D) stimulate research on software technology;

    (E) promote the more rapid development and wider distribution of computer software tools and applications software;

    (F) accelerate the development of computer systems and subsystems;

    (G) provide for the application of high -performance computing to Grand Challenges; and

    (H) invest in basic research and education; and

    (2) improve planning and coordination of Federal research and development on high -performance computing .
    . . .

    SEC. 6. NATIONAL RESEARCH AND EDUCATION NETWORK.
    (h) Within one year after the date of enactment of this Act , the Director, through the Council, shall report to the Congress on--

    (1) effective mechanisms for providing operating funds for the maintenance and use of the Network, including user fees, industry support, and continued Federal investment;

    (2) plans for the eventual commercialization of the Network;

    (3) how commercial information service providers could be charged for access to the Network;

    (4) the technological feasibility of allowing commercial information service providers to use the Network and other federally funded research networks;

    (5) how Network users could be charged for such commercial information services;

    (6) how to protect the copyrights of material distributed over the Network; and

    (7) appropriate policies to ensure the security of resources available on the Network and to protect the privacy of users of networks.

    You can read a summary of the history of the results here.

    http://www.inetdaemon.com/tutorials/internet/history.shtml

    And that's leaving out the general sponsoring of expansion of the telecommunication network by the United States since the technology was developed, so that it has been widely available, rather than just available in the immediately profitable areas, and the funding of basic research into telecommunication technology as a social and national security issue.

    Were there no government-created and sponsored high-speed broadband backbone for corporations to use to connect end-users to databases providing content and services, private industry would not have attempted to do anything commercial with the internet. The development costs would have been far too great to build a network. And indeed, one of the weaker areas of the Internet today remains the last few miles from the hub to the consumer--companies don't like upgrading their networks without being able to extract rent (as an economist would say) well beyond the actual cost.

    Wireless is another answer, and the government has facilitated that by moving broadcast television to another area of the broadcast spectrum to facilitate wireless broadband growth--though television station owners are kicking and screaming to hold onto the freed spectrum--only valuable because the government regulates and polices broadcast access to that spectrum, ensuring that spectrum owners can use it without interference--because they figure they own that spectrum as property, rather than lease it--for free, effectively--as a license grantee.

    My objection to the article is that you don't provide data for your opinion at all--indeed, your opinion conflicts with the data, where I am most aware of it, and so far as your representation of macroeconomics is concerned--which I gather is not your field--it is simplistic. But it does match rather precisely with some of the least-informed political rhetoric of some partisan ideologues.

    Hank
     This is from the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991, co-authored by a guy named Gore that you may have heard of, though you doubtlessly despise him.
    Wow, someone who actually believes Al Gore invented the Internet.  Funny, I was using it seven years before this.  And yet you think the government created the dot-com boom.  Citing the Internet as some success of big government, when anyone with any knowledge of economics knows if the government actually had anything to do with the Internet it would cost us $1,000 a month for access and have 52Kbps speed, is silly.   And what did government control of airwaves do again?  Oh, it created huge monopolies and ran small stations out of business.

    This is just copied and pasted optimism.  Are you a page in the White House or something?  No one with remote critical skills can see any government benefit in this.
    I can play this game a little longer.

    The legislation in question was introduced by Gore in the Senate. Regarding the significance of that legislation, and other efforts on the part of Gore in particular (though he was not the only one who backed the technology), let me refer you Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf's comments regarding the "Al Gore invented the Internet" slander, which I see you seem to regard as true. As the generally recognized inventors of the technology behind the Internet, perhaps you might consider their statements regarding Gore's involvement to have some authority.

    http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200009/msg...

    It is a little bizarre to claim (as you seem to want to) that the government had "nothing to do with the Internet," when the core TCP/IP technology was developed by Kahn and Cerf (who was by this time the Project Manager and Principle Scientist at DARPA--again, a government-funded defense research organization), and the legislation I cited opened up this technology to commercial use. Suggesting that Federal government funded research had nothing to do with creating the Internet is about as absurd as saying that the Federal government had nothing to do with the technology developed for the Apollo program.

    I recall when Mosaic first appeared--the first example of the browser-based world in which we are interacting now, developed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) with funding from the 1991 legislation you're mocking, and thinking just how different a technology that was. You remember Mosaic, right, an old hand like you, before Netscape came along?

    So what next? Would you like to take on fiat currency, and argue that we would all be better carrying gold nuggets or using barter to obtain food and shelter? Shall we discuss Milton Friedman and monetarism? You may recall, if you know something about the topic, that Friedman blamed a too passive Federal government, particularly the Federal Reserve, for taking a temporary monetary crisis and turning it into the Great Depression: I'd like to see how you propose to suggest that Dr. Friedman was wrong, and that the government got it wrong by doing too much.

    If your answer on being caught out in failing to consider the facts before forming an absolute opinion is to turn to the ad hominem attack, rather than admit that maybe your absolute opinion is a little too sweeping, then are you proposing to me that this is a sign of your superior abilities to think critically?

    Hate the government of the United States of America if you must. But I suggest to you that instead of getting irritated that someone has the temerity to question your authority to make sweeping opinions about things you seem to know little about, you might just consider being a little self-critical about how you form your opinions.

    Hank wrote: ". . . . and current EPA rules, much less more aggressive ones such as in California, are so onerous to business we can basically never recover in the current political climate."

    Do you really think we're past the tipping point? Sure a lot of the contents have spilled out, never to be fully recovered. But can we not right the vessel, salvage what's left, and move forward?

    Maybe not. Seems like the vast majority of the (American) voting public are deaf and dumb, full of ignorance and apathy.

    Hank
    As you noted, I said current political climate.  I was discussing this with a friend who is writing an article on Earth Day for another publication and told him I kept my newspaper from 9/11/2001 - though obviously that paper had nothing about terrorist attacks since they occurred after printing.  I kept it because the biggest concerns on the front page teasers were that our toilets needed to flush less water and Katie Couric was insisting the Texas mother who drowned her children was not at fault, everyone else in her life was.

    A day later we obviously had more pressing concerns than environmentalists saying toilets using too much water was ruining the country.    Likewise, with our economy in a freefall - the S&P has never before cut America's debt outlook since they began doing ratings 70 years ago - if politicians recognize we need to stop worrying about new things to regulate and tax and start cutting red tape so that real businesses can return to America, we'll be fine.  Americans are historically determined.   But 50% of America wants something for nothing and thinks someone else ought to be taxed to provide it.   We complain about incompetent CEOs who make too much money when, as I have said, ridiculous laws to generate sound bites in the media have made it so that most good CEOs don't want to run public companies, so the competition for the good ones is through the roof and the pay for all of them (let's be honest, how many of us who make a mistake at work will go to jail - yet the Chairman of Enron, who attended a board meeting once a quarter and had nothing to do with running the company, got a jail sentence despite doing nothing illegal) has to go up to compensate for the risk of doing jail for signing a piece of paper out of thousands they get.

    Basically, we've spent 3 years worrying about our economic toilet water usage and the economy is crashing.
    rholley
    “I want to have my cake and eat yours!”
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Yup. Meanwhile, my cynicism grows.

    Our political leaders, well most of them, seem intent on placing the blame on the other party rather than trying to work out a solution. Perhaps it's because our economy, indeed our whole country, has been so resilient in the past that our law makers believe that it is a self correcting problem.

    Meanwhile, as you so deftly pointed out, the media must resort to sensationalism and/or senseless pap to sell their ad space. Blech.

    MikeCrow
    I see there being a number of factors:

    The high cost of US labor.
    Consumers buying habits biased towards low cost (but not necessarily cheapest).
    Human labor competing with automation for jobs.
    Strict and complicated environmental laws.

    I think you can take various mixes of these factors and explain most of the loss of US jobs. I think the first three will be the hardest to overcome.
    In particular I think automation will continue to put pressure on wages. In many cases Unions left business no choice, pricing pressure from Co's with lower Manu costs, or suffering from long shutdowns from strikes. You either cut costs in your product, materials, or labor. If you can't cut labor, you cut the other two. And you can't just blame contract negotiators, they usually had to negotiate with a gun to their head. The pressure relief is to open a plant where labors cheap and not Unionized.

    Personally I think most manufacturing jobs are going away, though I do think there'll be a resurgence of 'cottage' industry that builds stuff 'by hand' and charges a premium for it.

    Future work will be IP development, and corporate management of IP talent, ie hr, finance, etc. And service industries.

    If we ever figure out how to make Drexler's nano-assemblers many things will be grown in a vat, not a lot of assembly jobs in that.
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    There are no unions in Silicon Valley semiconductor jobs and there are plenty of high wages.  The only reason there was any outsourcing at all of design jobs was not cost, it was a ridiculous visa protectionist visa scheme implemented in the Clinton years and renewed during the Bush ones making it difficult for foreign people to get jobs even if they had gotten all of their education here.   We trained competitors and forced them to return home because the fear was they would work for less.  Instead, they worked in other countries and now they have design centers (quality or not).

    The union PR campaign stating that if they are gone children will be working in coal mines is just that - PR.   There is no reason a janitor at GM needed to make $50 an hour but they are like any political body and once they exist, they never want to not exist so they have to acquire new members anywhere.   The Las Vegas protests outside Wal-Mart to force them to unionize, where the paid protesters got $8 an hour to stand in the sun from the union while Wal-Mart employees got $10 an hour without a union to work in the air conditioning, was pretty funny.  And unsuccessful.

    I suppose assembly might be a dead issue but what will replace low end jobs is something of a mystery.   Maybe we will go back to agriculture.
    MikeCrow
    That is certainly true in some areas, though I'm not sure it applies all over the US, I was just talking to friends at Intersil in Fl, they had a max of around 2,700 employees in the late 90's and are now down to ~700, though that could just be Intersil. I'm not sure how much of the outsourcing that took place at the software Company I work(HQ in SJ) at was due to not finding people or reducing costs.

    I'm not a big fan of Unions.

    I don't know what's going to happen with jobs, but whatever it is, I don't see a lot of growth in manufacturing. The only real upside is the cost of stuff will be reduced to materials and IP.
    Never is a long time.
    rholley
    What is IP?
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    MikeCrow
    Intellectual Property.
    Never is a long time.