Made on Earth

by Don Boudreaux on March 22, 2011

in Complexity & Emergence, Seen and Unseen, The Economy, Trade

Writing in the Finanical Times, Gillian Tett muses on the meaninglessness of “Made in….” labels.  Here’s the concluding half of Tett’s excellent essay:

But if you peer into the trade statistics, there is another, more subtle, shift under way: the real story behind these “made in” labels is not just that some items are no longer entirely “American”; instead, the bigger issue is that they are now produced in so many places, with such convoluted supply chains, that it is hard to tell where they are “made in” at all.

Take a look, for example, at a fascinating paper recently produced by the Asian Development Bank, which looks at where an iPhone is made. In this case, the company – Apple – is American; however, components for the iPhone are variously assembled in China, Korea, Taipei, Germany and the US, involving almost a dozen companies which are hard to pigeonhole with any ethnic label.

And it is not just in the world of electronics that these labels blur. Two decades ago, Sylvia Yanagisako, a Stanford University anthropology professor, went out to Italy to study the Italian textile and fashion trade – only to realise that so many of the key processes had moved to China that she shifted her research to Shanghai. She also found that Italian fashion designers are now tying themselves up in knots about what being an “Italian” designer really means. After all, the “Made in Italy” label carries cachet among consumers (including, ironically, wealthy Chinese shoppers). Many Italian designers insist that the concept of italianità (Italian-ness) is almost sacred. What, in other words, does italianità really mean if a product is partly made in China? The cultural contradictions on this new “21st-century Silk Road” – as Yanagisako dubs it – are intense.

The challenge for economists is even more profound. In the old days, they typically measured the output of an economy by watching where goods were “made”; but which country should claim the “value” for an iPhone (or an Italian suit or an American Girl doll)? Where does the real “output” come, in a world where companies can shift profits around?

Indeed, such is the complexity that Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organisation, recently voiced the seemingly heretical idea that economists should stop paying so much attention to “import” and “export” statistics. Thus, instead of trying to measure what is now “made in America” – or “China” – what economists should do is focus on the global economy as a whole, he insists. “It no longer makes sense to think of trade in terms of ‘them’ and ‘us’,” he argues; 20th-century-style trade statistics can be too arbitrary in the 21st-century world.

In rational terms, Lamy is absolutely right. But it is unlikely to cut much ice in political terms – or in a world where American unemployment is rising and politicians are muttering about currency wars. So the next time I pop into the American Girl store, I will look for the “Made in China” labels – and both chuckle and fret. This new, 21st-century Silk and Plastic Road is full of artifice on all sides; but, sadly, that does not prevent it from being a potential future flashpoint.

By the way, I first encountered the idea credited by Tett to Lamy in the writings of the indispensable Dan Ikenson.

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{ 69 comments }

kebko March 23, 2011 at 12:43 am

I saw Gillian Tett on C-Span speaking about her book “Fool’s Gold” and I was amazed at how much more informed & economically literate she was than any other journalist I have ever seen. She was very impressive. Her wikipedia page says she has a Phd in Social Anthropology. I can’t believe that her educational background isn’t in finance & economics.

Phil B March 23, 2011 at 10:12 am

“Fool’s Gold” is a great read. It’s my go to book I recommend for friends who want to understand financial derivatives and why they were created.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 2:39 am

She does well to put to question the often heard claims made here about American Manufacturing output.

vidyohs March 23, 2011 at 6:21 am

I don’t know for sure, but I am fairly certain that some unrestrained, and powerful, collective central planning by government could have prevented globalization.

How say you muirduck?

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 9:44 am

I say the world will need to come up with something unless you like being ruled by bond holders, international financiers and multi-national corporations. You may be comfortable in your ignorance but this kind of thing is what the pragmatic individualist understands and is not willing to accept as the best arrangement for humanity. Globalization has to happen but people need to make it happen on their terms and not to the benefit of the few. All of civilization has been a struggle between the elite privileged class and the rest of society… nothing has changed. The struggle goes on and the power will slowly shift and moderate… huge crisis are on the horizon but hopefully we’ll carry the day.

John V March 23, 2011 at 9:50 am

“Globalization has to happen but people need to make it happen on their terms and not to the benefit of the few.”

You have no idea how ironic you sound in light of what you support.

Ike March 23, 2011 at 9:55 am

I say the world will need to come up with something

How exactly will this be done?

From a top-down organization, like the UN, or from an amalgam of trade treaties between nations?

Or will it emerge from beneath, as people grope for an order above them that will shield them from tyrannical oligarchies?

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 10:35 am

It will be done when we have true people lead democracy in our country and in countries like China. Organization of international unions and workers rights will help. It’s gonna be a long fight like all of the human experience.

John V March 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

You have no idea what a childish non-answer that is. Really break that down and think about what you are saying. It’s all rhetoric.

MWG March 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm

“It will be done when we have true people lead democracy…”

As opposed to ‘fake people’?

You sound like child.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm

MWG,

You think our democracy is guided by what people want more than what corporations want? The evidence is so much more supportive of my claims than yours. I am no child but you are indeed a fool.

Ike March 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

So the “pragmatic individualist” is one who sacrifices his Individualism to power-hungry union bosses and politicians who will make decisions “in his best interest?”

Sam Grove March 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm

“people led democracy”

Riiiiight. Which people will do the actually leading?

MWG March 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm

“You think our democracy is guided by what people want more than what corporations want?”

I think both Bush and Obama have shown that not to be the case. You solution is esentially: “Golly, if we only had the right people in power with enough power.”

JohnK March 23, 2011 at 10:27 am

“unless you like being ruled by bond holders, international financiers and multi-national corporations”

That makes no sense at all. Those entities you mention do not have the ability to use force. Every penny they receive from consumers is given voluntarily in exchange for some good or service.

Unless you mean “being ruled by governments who are in the pocket of bond holders, international financiers and multi-national corporations”?

You seem to have this notion that it is possible to have a powerful government that puts “bond holders, international financiers and multi-national corporations” in control of “rest of society”.

But that is simply not the case. Powerful governments serve those who crave power, not “rest of society”.

The simplest and best way to avoid a powerful government controlled by “bond holders, international financiers and multi-national corporations” is to limit governmental power, simply because of the venality of those who seek that power.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I agree with most of what you said except the last paragraph.

To quote you, “You have no idea what a childish non-answer that is. Really break that down and think about what you are saying.”

This is exactly the debate I want to have. Because often we seem to agree on the problem but differ widely on the solution. I quite simply say the solution is people lead democracy… that won’t be the small government you prescribe… but it won’t be communism or socialism.. in fact it won’t be very different from what we now have. It will be more in the model of the best run social democracies like Denmark or Germany. It’s pretty much a tested and proved solution.

Your solution is minimalist government. My argument against that stands on two fronts…ONE; like where? Seriously don’t tell me about the city states of Honk Kong and Singapore. They are not really relevant. Do you have an example of where this really exists? TWO… the very fact that it IS minimalist will ALWAYS result in some wealthy, powerful or wicked persons stepping in to usurp power and fill the vacuum. That is basically what happened in our country. You had minimalist populist government then the wealthy elites co-opted government to bring in the gilded Age and its been a struggle between people lead government and corporate lead government ever since. Quite simply I believe the evidence and logic suggest your philosophy leads inevitably to crony capitalism.

JohnK March 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm

First, thank you for a semi-rational post.
Second, that was John V you quoted, not me.

“I quite simply say the solution is people lead democracy”

Except that people don’t. Most people just live their lives and let government do government things. Maybe half of them show up to vote. The vast majority of them are civically illiterate and probably shouldn’t vote.

“Do you have an example of where this really exists?”

It existed somewhat in the beginning of this country, as you admit further on in your post.

“the very fact that it IS minimalist will ALWAYS result in some wealthy, powerful or wicked persons stepping in to usurp power and fill the vacuum.”

And when you have a powerful government the same thing happens. Good and just people are not attracted to power. Wicked people are.

You want to attract good and just people to power. I think that would be nice as well, but it doesn’t work that way.

And yes I understand that limited governments become unlimited governments over time. That is the nature of the people who are attracted to power. They seek power to force their will upon others. The result is that bad legislation is rarely if ever repealed. It just begets more bad legislation. They do not admit to mistakes because that would require humility. The kind of people who would admit to mistakes and create a good government are not attracted to power.

You can’t fix government with government.

S_M_V March 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm

“ONE; like where? Seriously don’t tell me about the city states of Honk Kong and Singapore. They are not really relevant. Do you have an example of where this really exists? ”

Where is your example of a “citizen led Democracy” whos leaders that do not cater to special interests?

Certanly not in Europe. They all cater to historical elite, protected industries or simular groups at the expence of the majority.

But lets see your example.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm

John K ,

We have the lowest voter turnout among the social democracies. Likely it IS a result of the feeling that people are under represented and the wealthy and corporations are over represented. But poll after poll shows the desires for most Americans is for the government to do more NOT less. There was/is overwhelming support for increased taxes on the wealthy, for universal health care and renewable energy…ect ect…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout

If we are getting bad people elected to office then its a problem of how easy we make it to remove them and how we allow such standards to exist.

IMO a public official should never have a right to privacy while performing his public functions… there are lots of ways to make government more representative and more effective. You guys just have this innate distain for the very word … government … which is really pretty illogical, irrational and not pragmatic at all. We need government so the discussion is how to make it most effecient… saying things like , “You can’t fix government with government.” is not a reasoned approach to the problem.

Sam Grove March 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

There was/is overwhelming support for increased taxes on the wealthy, for universal health care and renewable energy…ect ect…

This is where you most need to understand the critical distinction between wealth/resources and money.

Money does not preform the tasks of fulfilling peoples needs and wants, that must be done by people.

It is impossible to make “the wealthy” provide for the needs and wants of everyone else. PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

It doesn’t matter how much you tax them.

Sam Grove March 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

does not PERFORM

vikingvista March 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm

What is “ect ect”? Is that The Penguin laugh from Batman?

dean March 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Muirgeo,

we have compulsory voting in Australia and i can assure you given the extremely high disallusionment with the current federal government volutary voting is not the real issue.

What happens is that the debate is brought down to the dumbest level, spin rules and soundbites are the only way to deliver complex arguements because it has to suit the huge number of people who don’t really care about politics but do care what they will be offered to get their vote.

Be very careful what you wish for. There is a significant debate going on her to make voting voluntary to try to increase the level of quality of debate.

JohnK March 24, 2011 at 8:34 am

“Likely it IS a result of the feeling that people are under represented and the wealthy and corporations are over represented.”

Duh! The more power the government has the more influence the “wealthy and corporations” will have. They are the ones who can get an audience with those who have power, and they are the ones who can influence those who have power. The powerful have no interest in peons like you or me other than getting our vote. It would be nice if they did, but they don’t. Never have, never will. They write policy to please the “wealthy and corporations”, not us, because it is the “wealthy and corporations” who give them the coin that they need to run the advertising that convinces idiots like us to vote for them.

Nothing will change that.

Once you accept that people who seek power do not do it for the benefit of you and me, you will understand that the only way to limit the abuse of power is to limit the amount of power that they have. You will never have “the right people” in power the because “the right people” do not seek to impose their will upon others through threat of violence.

“But poll after poll shows the desires for most Americans is for the government to do more NOT less. There was/is overwhelming support for increased taxes on the wealthy, for universal health care and renewable energy…ect ect… ”

All that shows is that most Americans are ignorant of civics, economics and physics.

crossofcrimson March 24, 2011 at 11:12 am

“Your solution is minimalist government. My argument against that stands on two fronts…ONE; like where? Seriously don’t tell me about the city states of Honk Kong and Singapore. They are not really relevant. Do you have an example of where this really exists?”

I’m curious, if you were present at the advent of modern democratic states, would you have presumed this to be a “good” argument against tearing down the divine right of kings? I’m pretty sure, “But it hasn’t really been done/tried before” is a piss-poor argument against just about anything under the sun. Since we don’t really have the nice clean vacuum of a lab with which to put all of our theories to the test (yours included), we’re going to have to defer to reason – not the absence of suitable experiments in political system X up to this point in time.

JohnK March 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptable. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.”

Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse Dune, Missionaria Protectiva

vidyohs March 23, 2011 at 10:48 am

What is fun is the zen of muirduck.

No one has to call him an idiot, just prod him to talk and he does the job in a way no one else could imitate.

JohnK March 23, 2011 at 10:53 am

I made the mistake of giving him a thoughtful reply that I am quite positive he will ignore, since it doesn’t fit any of the straw man arguments he so adeptly slays.

brotio March 24, 2011 at 12:31 am

LMAO!

Methinks1776 March 24, 2011 at 7:58 am

Nailhead? Meet Vidyohs.

JohnK, I’m sure he’s not ignoring it. He’s processing. It just takes a while for Muirdiot to fully misunderstand what you tell him. Patience, my dear, patience.

vikingvista March 24, 2011 at 2:39 pm

“It just takes a while for Muirdiot to fully misunderstand what you tell him.”

Hilarious.

Methinks1776 March 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

You may be comfortable in your ignorance…

As you are so comfortable in yours.

I still cannot believe this is the drivel that seeps from a middle-aged man.

MWG March 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

That and he’s a doctor. Oh horror!

kyle8 March 23, 2011 at 6:59 am

There is one aspect in which it makes sense to make a distinction between “Them and us”. That is how much regulation, and how many taxes are your firms struggling under?

In a global market, the productivity of your people will dictate how many jobs are enjoyed and how much wealth is accumulated. Some actions of government can help this productivity, such as building infrastructure, and providing security. However, in most cases the actions and cost of government are a net drag upon productivity.

The current administration and many in congress cannot see this. They are blinded by an ideology that says that the bigger and more expensive that government becomes the wealthier we will be! And they pretend to be our intellectual superiors!

Methinks1776 March 23, 2011 at 8:46 am

I’ll put it another way, Kyle. How much are consumers and the labour market paying for regulation and how much are they overpaying for infrastructure and security?

The current administration (and the one before it, and the one before it and….) is blinded by an ideology that says “the more power we have, the more wealthy we become. Who cares how much it costs and who pays the price – as long as it isn’t the people who fund us”. The greed of the politician is satisfied very differently from the greed of the entrepreneur.

RonJ March 23, 2011 at 8:47 am

I’m glad to hear someone else has asked the unaskable question: why do we care where goods are made? I know of a buy-out company that made a sweet deal for some excess “French” jeans being made in China. The deal was struck, money changed hands, and the jeans were shipped in containers to the U.S. where they promptly passed through Customs. A test order of the jeans were distributed to a couple of national discount retailers where the product sold remarkably well. Until, that is, one buyer noticed the “Made in” lable was missing. In horror, the retailer immediately pulled thousands of pairs of best-selling product off the sales floor and shipped them back to the wholesaler who set about in a panic to minimize the damage…legal and financial. Ultimately they came up with a stamp that could be used on each and every garment to indicate “Made In China.” A crew of stampers is now at work going through each and every garment, carton after carton, shipping container after shipping container, to correct the faux pas.

It seems the jeans are legal in France. They did not care where the jeans were made.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 10:37 am

Yeah who cares if slave, child or communist workers made my stuff… I am a free market capitalist… and I stand on my principles… whatever they are.

John V March 23, 2011 at 11:01 am

Pure hyperbole that fails to engage serious discussion of anything.

vikingvista March 23, 2011 at 11:26 am

Didn’t you know? “Made in China” = “Made by slave, child, or communist workers”. “Made in China” is only used because it is shorter.

John V March 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

Yes, yes…of course.

After all, if it isn’t how muirgeo would like it to be, then what argument does he have?

As usual, our resident moron needs incredibly alarmist rhetoric and presumptions to have any thin veneer of credibility. Sadly for him, that veneer is quickly brushed away after a few seconds of critical thought.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Yeah cause China isn’t a communist country and has never been shown to use child or slave labor.

vikingvista March 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm

muirjongil–

“Yeah cause China isn’t a communist country”

Since you think the US is a capitalist country, I guess that makes you a capitalist.

Now stop responding to me. I’ve already taken my shower.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

John you don’t get to claim hyperbole or strawman or illogic. You have to occasionally give an explanation of why you label things so.In this case explain why it’s OK for so called capitalist to exploit dictatorships. Because it makes NO sense to me and you constantly shouting hyperbole or strawman is like the child screaming in the corner.

Methinks1776 March 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Yeah, John. Muirdiot doesn’t know what those words mean. He doesn’t know what the rest of the crap he wrote means either. You write things and it pretty much translates like the voice of the teacher in “Charlie Brown”. He’s going to have to have an explanation from you so that he can misunderstand things more clearly.

John V March 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I said hyperbole and I mean it.

I’ve explained so many things to you that it makes me less inclined to continue to do so because explanations are usually ignored by you while you go posting more of the same.

The rest of your answer. Let think about this:

“In this case explain why it’s OK for so called capitalist to exploit dictatorships”

That’s such a silly statement. Businesses don’t exploit dictatorships. Businesses do business. They are not political. The exploiting is by dictatorships. And besides, if you’re referring to China, perhaps you’d like to actually take an objective look at the transformation it has made since opening up to trade and moving from a oppressive place to a more open society where people are living better and better. You are such a fool to ignore all this. The world isn’t perfect but moves in better directions with progress.

Your choose to see hyperbole and shout nonsense against this. And the existence or child labor and slaves is where free markets in any form have taken hold. America had child labor until it wasn’t needed. And when I say “needed” I mean by parents who sent their kids to work. The laws against child labor may sound nice but they came about as child labor was in its last throes. Economic improvement takes care of that.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm

America had child labor until it wasn’t needed. And when I say “needed” I mean by parents who sent their kids to work. The laws against child labor may sound nice but they came about as child labor was in its last throes. Economic improvement takes care of that. John V

Absolute baloney. Child labor went away because a series of child labor laws were passed against the strong opposition of factory owners. Geez its so disgusting to see you just deny history in favor of parroting some boloney you heard on some right wing talk show.

http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/laborctr/child_labor/about/us_history.html

John V March 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

“Absolute baloney. Child labor went away because a series of child labor laws were passed against the strong opposition of factory owners.”

Besides the fact that ignored the central point of my post, you dwell on the law rather than the altering reality in the streets.

And why did it take so long to enact such laws? Why didn’t they do it 1820s? 30?…..80s? Your desire for quick and easy answers and narratives around government ignores reality. Child labor, regardless of what some “Johnny come lately” law says, drops as living standards rise and child labor is no longer needed by parents to make ends meet. Do you really think parents have kids ripped from their arms to go work in factories against the parents’ will?? NO. It not only makes sense, it’s true. The problem with how people like you like to interpret economic reality and history is that you fail to consider how the times make such laws POSSIBLE and what forces are really at play regardless of what the law says. Did prohibition end drinking? Absolutely not. And why didn’t we wait until the 1960s to enact civil rights legislation? How about 1920 to give women suffrage? Because the country wasn’t ready for it…that’s why.

BTW, as I already knew, look in that link at where a lot of the opposition came from to child labor. Unions. How surprising…not. Unions didn’t want kids taking their jobs. And again: WHY DID PARENTS ALLOW IT? Because, like in third world countries of today, the poor family needs income and everyone has to contribute. When most people farmed, kids worked on the farm and nobody seemed to care. As indutrialization changed the economic landscape, factories were where the work was….especially for poor immigrants from places like Ireland, Italy and Russia and Poland and so on.

So you go ahead and tout that law. The law simply made illegal was already becoming less necessary….especially among the rising middle class. And believe me, that law simply pushed much of the child labor that was still lingering into the black market. The TRUE absence of child labor (not by law but by reality) goes down as wealth increases. Your Disneyland version of history is so lacking.

And BTW, I don’t listen to right wing radio at all and never will. I don’t listen to any political radio…but I’m sure you do.

John V March 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Here, Muirgeo:

http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist8.html

You’ll like this. It’s not only written by an English Professor who abhors the idea of child labor….like anyone else would. But it’s far important for the realistic and empathetic look he takes toward child labor as a reality in real time as it was happening. He doesn’t grandstand like a simpleton the way you do. He thinks of the matter in its historical context which is far more correct and useful.

vidyohs March 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

I don’t know ducky, while I don’t care if slaves or children make my jeans, as I would expect at least a tad of concern about quality from them, but to think my jeans were made by communists? Oh no, I could never accept things made by people with low standards.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

You call me the communist but I am not the one who supports them willy nilly…. you seem to have no problem spending your government checks on communist made items. You are far more a supporter of socialism and communism by your actions than I am by my words. Frickin pinko!

John V March 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm

You are so stupid. As if you don’t buy things made in china like everyone else. And you try to pretend that China isn’t becoming less and less communist as they embrace the entry of capital and investment and participate in globalization.

This is how countries move toward free societies from oppressive ones. Liberalizing markets liberalizes people.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm

John V March 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm
You are so stupid. As if you don’t buy things made in china like everyone else.

Yeah I do … because it’s almost impossible NOT to… but you are the ones that say we are NOT forced to buy anything from these capitalist. It’s a silly notion. As silly as you pretending you can go more then a couple of hours with out using some service from the government.

John V March 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm

“Yeah I do … because it’s almost impossible NOT to… but you are the ones that say we are NOT forced to buy anything from these capitalist.”

Buy local if it bothers you so much. You can find it. In the end, you really don’t care. It just makes you feel good to complain because you think you’re helping someone who neither needs your help nor asked for it. It’s a world economy. It’s better.

“It’s a silly notion. As silly as you pretending you can go more then a couple of hours with out using some service from the government.”

I never pretended that. Nor did I ever talk about it. You are so in need of making up crap to counter what people say. You really do need to argue against the presumptions you make about other people because what they actually say leaves nothing that you want to blabber about

brotio March 24, 2011 at 12:40 am

Yeah I do … because it’s almost impossible NOT to

Oh, bat shit. You buy “made in China”, because forking over the extra dough to buy “made in the USA” might mean you couldn’t take those carbon-spewing vacations to Exit Glacier, and other exotic locales where you commune with His Holiness: The Divine Prophet Algore I and bitch about the amount of carbon being spewed by non-believers.

Methinks1776 March 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I am delighted to provide work for a child who would otherwise starve to death. I am thrilled that ordinary folk living under communist regimes can better their lot by making my t-shirts. I love stuff and they love to eat.

You don’t understand that because you know nothing of grinding poverty.

Well…that’s not the main reason.

muirgeo March 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I know I know… you support communism… you don’t have to tell me that.

Sam Grove March 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm

What do you have against poor children in China?

Why don’t you want them to be better off?

If Chinese don’t trade, they will become poorer.
Is that what you desire?

rmv March 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm
Methinks1776 March 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm

i wunt only commie chidrun to die beekuzz commies are bad.

JohnK March 24, 2011 at 8:58 am

“Even commies have daddies and mommies.”

–Opus (Bloom County)

anonymous March 23, 2011 at 10:05 am

Taiwan?

nailheadtom March 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

“Trade to me is an expression of the world’s economy of living. Trade knows no borders, no kin, no breed, no loyalty or patriotism, or sentiment.”
– James Ford Bell (founder of General Mills), 1954.

nevadadoctor March 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Made on Earth? Tea party idealists are a grave threat to our homeland’s security! Every consumer benefits when supplies diminish because – hey look at that those jihad flocks of flying squirrels! They hate us for our freedom! Effective immediately, all trees are subject to random TSA screenings!
Anyways, all products have federally mandated label protocols for our own protection[ism]. The age of men has passed, the reign of the Orcs of [M]Order is upon us. Mission Accomplished, Hope, Change, Cowboy Clusterf*ck!
Take clothing for example. Before you start selling homemade shirts, get into compliance with this helpful 40 page summary to “thread”[lol] your way through textile label protocols. http://www.nationaltextile.org/library/ftc/thread.pdf.
As we all voted for and assented to: United States Customs laws require that all wearing apparel articles produced abroad be marked for country of origin under special rules of (19 CFR 102). In garments that cover the upper torso, the country of origin marking must be placed on the “inside center of the neck midway between the shoulder seams or in that immediate area” as ruled by Customs in T.D. 54640
Prior to producing anything, be sure to audit your apparel for any labeling fraud you may be a victim of. If you see something say something to the textile division of the FTC located at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/bcpenf.shtm.
We are all fighters in a war for fair trade. Don’t shirk your duties, semper fi, tu ne cede malis, and et cetera!

max March 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm

“But you, like an idiot, want to take over the world. And you don’t realize there is no world anymore! It’s only corporations!”

~ Number 2 in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

vikingvista March 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Only corporations? Without governments? I wish.

Matt March 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

John V, you kick ass.

a_murricun March 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm

This reflects what we saw in auto manufacturing publications as early as the 1970s. At intervals the rags would do studies of ownership and more importantly, “content” (a slippery beancounting notion) of cars. And it turned out that few cars were made with significant local content. And many “US” cars were assembled in Canada. So your Chevy assembled in Michigan might have 70% US content and your Toyota assembled at NUMMI in California could have 80% US content. Globalization before it became chic in US academia.

eriks March 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm

More important is who receives the rents (profits). I can’t remember the paper, but we looked at the breakdown in business school. Most, if not all, of the components in Apple products are cheap commodities and so the producers receive very little over cost. The real value in an Iphone is the design, and so Apple and it’s cadre of (American) executives, engineers and designers receive the lion’s share of the revenue any sale produces.

kyle8 March 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm

As well as anyone who owns Apple Stock. Including a great many retirement funds.

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