Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wall Street's Racket Has Gone Too Far, and We're Going to Pay the Heavy Price

Wall Street's Racket Has Gone Too Far, and We're Going to Pay the Heavy Price

Wall Street's Racket Has Gone Too Far, and We're Going to Pay the Heavy Price
By James Howard Kunstler,
There's a great wish for American finance to return to
business-as-usual happy days of high profits, but there's
just too much debt to swallow. Read more »

For years, folks like Thomas Friedman and Robert Samuelson have dismissed concerns about our dwindling manufacturing base as just so much economic fearmongering. We don't need those dirty manufacturing jobs, they said. There's more value added in services, and with our educated workforce and technological edge, there's no reason in the world not to have other countries build our play-stations, bikes and TVs.

The only problem is that the manufacturing sector has always been a key driver of technological innovation. When manufacturing goes, so does a large share of hi-tech R and D. Now, according to Manufacturing and Technology News, we appear to be reaping what the corporate globalizers have sown:

"China has surpassed the United States in a key measure of high tech competitiveness. The Georgia Institute of Technology's bi-annual 'High-Tech Indicators' finds that China improved its 'technological standing' by 9 points over the period of 2005 to 2007, with the United States and Japan suffering declines of 6.8 and 7.1 respectively. In Georgia Tech's scale of one to 100, China's technological standing now rests at 82.8, compared to the U.S. at 76.1. The United States peaked at 95.4 in 1999. China has increased from 22.5 in 1996 to 82.8 in 2007.

"'The message speaks out pretty loudly,' says Alan Porter, co-director of Georgia Tech's Technology Policy and Assessment Center, which produces the benchmark. 'I think the prospects are pretty scary.'

"'In areas like nanotechnology, China now leads the United States in published articles, but what scares me is China is getting better at marrying that research to their low-cost productive processes,' says Porter. 'When you put those together with our buzzword of innovation, China is big, they're tough and cheap. Again, where is our edge?'"

We had it, but we shipped it off to China, content to sell one another real estate, sue each other and manufacture only green pieces of paper to trade for oil and cheap knick-knacks at Wal-Mart.

-Joshua Holland
Editor, Corporate Accountability and Workplace

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