China As the New Rust Belt

Gordon Chang predicts that the United States will reclaim its lead in manufacturing (or hold it, depending on how you count things) relative to the Chinese:

Robotized production in China is no cheaper than robotized production in, say, Texas or California, where Foxconn maintains manufacturing facilities. And so it should come as no surprise that, as Foxconn replaces humans with machines, Apple CEO Tim Cook told NBC’s Brian Williams on Thursday that next year his company will manufacture one of its Mac computers in the U.S.

Even though Cook’s announcement could have been “political”—a “token gesture” as one observer in Hong Kong sniffed—it nonetheless is part of a broader narrative of factories fleeing China. After all, Apple is not the only company to recently announce it was “onshoring.” Lenovo, China’s largest maker of PCs, in October said it would move some computer manufacturing to its North Carolina facility, and General Electric has been transferring production back to Appliance Park in Louisville. Small- and medium-sized manufacturers are started to return to the U.S. as well.

American manufacturers, in short, are gaining on the Chinese. Boston Consulting Group has predicted that around 2015 it will become more economical to manufacture in the U.S. than China in seven industrial sectors. American workers are more productive and less likely to strike than their Chinese counterparts. Moreover, as suggested above, transportation costs are much lower and delivery times far shorter when goods are made here. And energy is substantially cheaper in America.

I’ve got it! Let’s reduce the productivity of American workers, encourage them to strike, and increase the cost of transportation and energy. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

55 comments… add one
  • Bob in VA

    Nice to notice them moving back to right-to-work states mostly. But we’ll have another ace up our sleeve to help China, like keeping the Keystone XL pipeline under wraps, Obama campaigning for more union membership (buying votes), and EPA working nonstop to gum up the works.

  • PD Shaw

    I happen to have read the Insourcing Boom article at the Atlantic last night, which is at least partly an extrapolation of what has happened at GE’s Appliance Park. The argument for increased insourcing:

    1. Oil prices are increasing transportation costs.
    2. Natural gas boom gives U.S. a comparative energy advantage.
    3. Chinese wages have risen 5 times what they were in 2000 (in dollars).
    4. Unions have been chastened.
    5. U.S. labor productivity increases make labor costs a smaller portion of manufacturing.
    6. Fear of Chinese theft of process/designs.
    7. Increasing advantage to having design and manufacturing in close location.
    8. Companies followed trend towards outsourcing, without studying whether it actually made financial sense for them. A lot of the financial advantages of mfg in China arose from anticipated sales in China, and did not make sense for U.S. sales.

  • TastyBits

    Robotics in the US should have taken off long ago. Machines replacing workers has been improving the country for the last 150 years. I do not understand why this has not happened yet, but I am going to bet that the government is a factor.

    Robots can do mindless tasks mindlessly. They never get sick or call OSHA. Fortunately, they are not self-sustaining. They require humans to build, run, service, and program them. The best humans for this would be the most educated. These jobs would require more skilled workers, and they will be more highly paid workers.

    I am not sure what is the downside.

  • PD Shaw:

    I wish that more precise terminology were being used. Here are the terms that I like:

    Outsourcing: contracting certain services or portions of the production process to another company.

    Nearly all companies outsource legal services. Only the largest have legal departments with lawyers on staff. The automobile industry started outsourcing various aspects of their production process decades ago. Batteries, tires, engines, coatings on metals, the list is practically endless. There were hundreds of small to medium countries all over Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana that were essentially contractors to the Big 3 automakers. It’s one of the things that made moving production offshore easy.

    Offshoring: contracting certain services or aspects of the production process to an overseas division or company.

    Offshore outsourcing: contracting certain services or aspects of the production process to an overseas company

    The corresponding terms are insourcing, onshoring, and onshore insourcing.

  • Bob in VA:

    I agree with what you wrote but it’s incomplete. There are also trade and immigration policies that work synergistically to reduce wages for unskilled and semi-skilled workers and management practices that foster hostility between workers and management.

  • Michael Reynolds

    But what about uncertainty. And Obamacare. And regulation. And having some community organizer black dude in the White House. And socialism. And the dollar. And Drew going Galt if his taxes go up. And all the other many reasons why were doomed to be slaves to the Chinese. What about inevitable decline. And just generalized woe.

  • Michael:

    Although it may not be completely clear from my body of writing on the subject, I’ve never been worried about the Chinese. I’ve said it before but I think it bears repeating: I think the internal contradictions of their system will mean that they’ll never be a full competitor to us.

    I’m worried about us and our internal contradictions.

    And lest it be missed I think our snafus are bipartisan in nature, crossing ideological lines. There are virtually no barriers to our own idiocy.

  • PD Shaw

    Dave, good point, some of the looseness in terminology was probably mine.

    Here are the list of questions / issues that undermined the article:

    1. In an article centered on G.E., I recall no discussion of the effect of tax incentives. Are they irrelevant or simply overlooked?
    2. G.E.’s lack of oversight of its overseas production seemed negligent. Production was described as a black box which the design team would only enter when there was a problem and a costly fix was needed. Without feedback from production, products were designed with excessive labor and materials costs. How much of this is specific to G.E.?
    3. How much of the semi-skill labor, for activities like precision welding, exists in America today (as opposed to 40 yrs ago)?
    4. At least some of the onshoring increase entails producing goods from parts manufactured overseas.
    5. An underlying premise of the article is reviving consumer demand.

  • sam

    “I think the internal contradictions of their system will mean that they’ll never be a full competitor to us.”

    I was thinking about this yesterday when I read that by 2030, according to some, we will be eclipsed by China, etc. My first thought was , “Yeah, given that China doesn’t implode first…”

  • Mr. Shaw, those are all reasons why Kathleen Fasanella is encouraging clothing designers to set up shops in the US, with the additional point that fashions can be fit more carefully and criticism can be incorporated into design in a more timely manner.

  • TastyBits

    @Michael Reynolds

    Obamacare, regulations, some corporate tax issues, and energy costs are some of the biggest drivers, but I would emphasize @PD Shaw’s point #8. Contrary to conventional wisdom, businessmen are not geniuses, and I suspect you agree.

    When the offshore outsourcing to India craze was going, many companies found out it was more costly than they thought. There are benefits even at a higher cost, but most of them were like lemmings following the latest trend. (Few will admit this, and they will “throw good money after bad”.)

    The Republicans are becoming trifling over the tax issues, but Democrats have been trifling over many issues. Both Democrats and Republicans are boorish.

    As to the “black dude in the White House” quip, I am certain your community is fully integrated racially and economically. If not, move to somewhere that is, or shut the f*ck up. The black and brown folks do not bite, and poor folks are not pets needing care.

  • TastyBits

    @Janis Gore

    At one time, there were some clothing companies making individualized clothes. The machines were able to be easily programmed for individual sizes. I am not sure why it never caught on.

  • MIL’s aunt used to sew custom for one of the big catalog department stores in Monroe. I think it was Montgomery Ward.

    A customer could walk in and select the pattern and the cloth.

  • steve

    Steve Leesman made a good point. When he was in Saudi Arabia he asked them what was their biggest problem. They said Israel, a country 1500 miles away that has little to do with them. Unions are Israel for the right. They make up 6.9% of private sector workers. The best, or second best, school system in the world has unionized teachers. Germany has most of its workers unionized. Need to find a new bogeyman.

    Steve

  • Unions are Israel for the right. They make up 6.9% of private sector workers. The best, or second best, school system in the world has unionized teachers.

    Considering the tens of billions that have been rather dubiously spent bailing out unio….err GM and Chrysler the problem may not be quite as simple as your analogy suggests.

    Let me give you another example of where a “small group” causes bigger problems for just about everybody. In CA we have a fair amount of Agriculture business, but comparatively speaking it isn’t that big. And in terms of electricity it is, well, small. But they have a powerful lobby and as such they cause problems for millions of other people. Not huge problems, but if you add say 1 cent to every other customer’s bill it really adds up to more than chump change. A lot more (keep in mind that the number of kilowatt hous is in the hundreds of billions state wide).

    So it is entirely possible for something that looks “small” can punch above their apparent weight class.

    And Dave’s comment should be interpreted more broadly as well. It isn’t just unions, but other things as well.

    As for teachers…they are part of our fiscal problem at the state level. Not really a good example for you to point too.

  • As to the “black dude in the White House” quip, I am certain your community is fully integrated racially and economically.

    That is just Michael playing the race card. It is an indicator he is likely out of ammunition on the topic.

  • This little company is on the ball:

    http://www.eebeads.com/

  • michael reynolds

    Dave:

    No, I know very well that you and I have both been China skeptics. We have problems. They have problems.

  • michael reynolds

    Tasty:

    I’m curious: what effect do you think my living in a more racially integrated community would have on my views?

  • michael reynolds

    Steve V:

    The topic seems to be the evaporation of yet another inevitable doomsday that was gonna kill us all. In this case, Mighty China.

    And as I recall libertarian talking points on this, it was gonna kill us all because we have environmental regulations and they don’t, something to do with Keystone pipeline, and we won’t let employers pay people in gruel, plus teachers for some reason, and we’re on the cusp of the true apocalypse: health insurance exchanges. All of it overseen by a buffoon, an affirmative action pseudo-intellectual who had never even tried to manage a successful chain of sandwich shops but had instead released the Balrog of Uncertainty.

    I believe those same factors are what caused GM and Chrysler to wither and die in the immediate aftermath of the doomed bail-out. A withering whose side-effect is evidently rising sales and profits.

    Nevertheless, I remain confident that we are all still gonna die because: teachers. Oh, my God! They have my children right now!

  • PD Shaw

    steve, if you are going to talk up public teachers then the correct figure is union members make up 37.0% of public sector workers. And I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t hear or read of public sector abuses that implicate unions.

    Today, an arbitrator ordered the reinstatement of a city crew, fired for personal tree removal during work hours using city equipment; the leader of which also lied to their supervisor about the incident to cover it up and went back and attempted to intimidate the neighbor who took pictures. Elements of my city government act like organized crime, aided by union lawyers and contracts.

    Last year, half of this city department, including supervisors, were discovered e-mailing porn back and forth to each other during work. Nobody fired.

    But back to today, city announces the need to raise taxes to cover pension shortfalls. Its not a right-wing issue.

  • PD Shaw:

    There’s so much good stuff in that comment my response may be a bit lengthy.

    1. In an article centered on G.E., I recall no discussion of the effect of tax incentives. Are they irrelevant or simply overlooked?

    Since GE has a tax department with 1,000 people in it, I’d think that tax incentives might be important to it.

    2. G.E.’s lack of oversight of its overseas production seemed negligent. Production was described as a black box which the design team would only enter when there was a problem and a costly fix was needed. Without feedback from production, products were designed with excessive labor and materials costs. How much of this is specific to G.E.?

    I think I’ve told the story of me and production in China before. If I haven’t I’ll repeat it. Based on my experience (inside experience with several large companies), not only is oversight negligent its lack is what makes overseas production economically feasible. If they checked what was being done closely enough to know what the heck was going on it would be so expensive it would eat up all of the tiny margins that are gained from overseas production.

    3. How much of the semi-skill labor, for activities like precision welding, exists in America today (as opposed to 40 yrs ago)?

    Yeah, we don’t have a lot of blacksmiths or leatherworkers, either. Those are the skills we should be teaching rather than sending young people to get useless AAs and BAs.

    4. At least some of the onshoring increase entails producing goods from parts manufactured overseas.

    This is actually a pet peeve of mine. If the accounting still works the way it did when I was really on top of this subject, intracompany transfers don’t count as imports. That means that if Company A has a division in China that manufactures components and the components are then shipped to the U. S. for assembly or even, in some cases, for packaging, that isn’t counted as an import. Said another way, I think our imports are drastically understated. Yet another reason to think that U. S. GDP figures might be jiggered.

  • steve:

    Germany has most of its workers unionized.

    Unions in the United States and unions in Germany, indeed, in most of the rest of the world, are completely different cats. By law and by custom the relationship between unions and management in the U. S. is antagonistic. It’s more collaborative in Germany and Japan (Japan is more heavily unionized than we are). Locals are much important there, too.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    I cannot stand racists. They are vile and despicable. I have been subject to them because of my associations. I have been befriended by them based upon my looks. I know people who have been/are/will be subject to racism, bigotry, prejudice, and stereotypes.

    Using racism as a means to win an argument or anything else is vile and despicable, and it is almost as bad as racism. There is enough racial problems in the US, and casually tossing around racism charges or implementations only exacerbates those problems.

    Many of the things labeled racism are not, and the actual problems are never addressed. Many of these problems are multifaceted and complicated. Race may play a part in them, but often it does not. This does nothing to solve the problems, and the people affected will continue to live f*cked-up lives.

    The lower end of the social-economic spectrum seems to be disproportionately represented by the darker folks, and much of what is labeled racism affects them disproportionately. These folks have numerous issues, and these problems are conveniently limited to these areas.

    When these problems move into the nicer areas, nice white liberals move out, but they never consider themselves racist. Having no actual experience with racism or black folks, they use movies, books, etc. to understand both, and it is easy to have pity for people based upon a characterization. The pity is a great benefit for the pitier, but it is worthless for the pitied.

    You have insulated yourself from undesirables, and do not have to understand their actual problems. By getting first-hand experience, you might be a little less apt to casually toss around a vile and despicable charge.

  • jan

    Apple is not the only company to recently announce it was “onshoring.” Lenovo, China’s largest maker of PCs, in October said it would move some computer manufacturing to its North Carolina facility..

    Hmmm, isn’t NC a RTW state? Funny, how those republican dominated states, who are pushing for spending cuts and less union control by creating a business-friendly environment, are attracting more business, have lower UE rates and are generally doing better economically than let’s say democratically dominated states like Illinois and CA.

    Michigan is currently flailing around in it’s attempts to implement fiscal prudence in it’s failed state, by a RTW law too. But, like WI, is getting trashed by not only union muscle, but by Obama’s oral muscle, in his Lancing, Michigan speech the other day.

    It’s always what is politically astute for Obama, not what is good for a given state. That is his continuing motto.

  • Drew

    Nice try, Michael, but stupid comment, as always.

    I’ve been posting almost all of PD’s list here for some time. In fact, we are capitalizing on it, as I have noted.

    Get back to us when you have an honest argument, not a dumbass straw man.

  • michael reynolds

    Tasty:

    Yes, my insulation from black and brown people included 10 years working in restaurants, two years cleaning toilets, a year scraping gum off the floors of the late, lamented Garfinckel’s department store, and a year collecting rents for my slumlord grandfather in Long Beach. It may surprise you to learn that I encountered minorities in all those jobs. I was poor before I was well-off.

    I was also raised in part on Army bases (we used to call them posts, but I think that’s fallen out of vogue,) circa Vietnam and my dad was enlisted though he later made warrant, so again: not everyone was white.

    I would also add that I was insulated from racists if you don’t count my family being threatened by the Klan in the panhandle of Florida after we had black students over to our house. Or the endless racist bullshit you hear in the restaurant world.

    The idea that liberals overplay the “race card” has some validity, but not much. There is zero doubt in any fair person’s mind that naked racism plays a big part in the rage against Obama and all his works. How many previous presidents have had their citizenship questioned repeatedly, persistently, in the face of all evidence?

    So, sorry, but yelling “race card!” doesn’t intimidate me. Racism exists. It is real. They didn’t all disappear one fine day. They are part and parcel of the GOP today — as some Republicans are belatedly coming to admit. And no, there is no parallel in the Democratic Party. We aren’t trying to keep white people from the polls.

  • And as I recall libertarian talking points…

    Michael, serious question….what drugs are you on? They sound wonderful based on your writings and maybe my doctor can prescribe some for me too.

    Okay, really serious now…actually Drew beat me too it. Your position is nothing but a pathetic straw man.

    And really, grow up and act your age Michael, the attempts at painting those with whom you disagree as racists is just stupid and juvenile.

  • michael reynolds

    Drew:

    Haven’t you gone Galt yet? You keep threatening to, and I’m concerned that you may not if we don’t go all the way back to 39.6%. There’s some talk of 38 or even 37.5. So, out of concern for your future, I’m wondering what the magic number is. Granted 39.6% and you are outta here and playing golf while other less precious businessmen eat your lunch. But what about 37? 37.3? 38.1? What are we going to have to do to get you out there on the course?

    How do you feel about 38.8? That’s gotta be slavery, right?

  • michael reynolds

    At 40% Drew raises the black flag of revolt and drives his golf cart into the nearest public school teacher.

  • Michael,

    Wow…I’m embarrassed for you.

    PD,

    And I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t hear or read of public sector abuses that implicate unions.

    Totally agreed. I can’t tell you how many (horror) stories I’ve read at Radley Balko’s blog where cops get reinstated with back pay and such for just appalling behavior.

  • steve

    PD- The problem is not unions per se, but the way they are constructed and function in the US. Yup, you can point out problems with unions. I can point out problems with management. On an incidence basis or a dollar basis, I would be willing to bet we can find a lot more problems with management. Let’s start with the subprime banking crisis. I think it likely that alone outdoes every union mistake. Yet, we need to eradicate unions for the mistakes, and they do exist, they have made but no one pushes to eradicate management.

    On public unions, I agree that they are more of a problem. I have long advocated making them have defined contribution pensions which would alleviate much of the problem they cause.

    “Hmmm, isn’t NC a RTW state? Funny, how those republican dominated states, who are pushing for spending cuts and less union control by creating a business-friendly environment, are attracting more business, have lower UE rates and are generally doing better economically than let’s say democratically dominated states like Illinois and CA.”

    http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm

    Eliminate the small states with lots of oil, and the difference is small, with red states slightly ahead. Of course, if RTW is important, why havent those states always had lower UE? Why are those red states so poor? Since union membership is so low, I dont find it credible they make a difference. What I do find likely is that businesses may be seeking out states with lower tax rates or ones willing to have them pay none via special deals. I think this will be a grand experiment if it continues. If all states decide to follow that model, what happens when we have school dropout rates like we do in Texas and the poorer red states? When our top universities lose support and all become mid-level equivalent schools? Is that how we will remain economically competitive?

    Steve

  • steve

    “Totally agreed. I can’t tell you how many (horror) stories I’ve read at Radley Balko’s blog where cops get reinstated with back pay and such for just appalling behavior.”

    Now you are being disingenuous. You know that the GOP NEVER goes after police unions. They donate to the GOP and vote that way. The most egregious examples of bad union behavior are almost always with police unions, yet all efforts at eliminating/modifying public unions are aimed at teachers.

    Steve

  • Now you are being disingenuous. You know that the GOP NEVER goes after police unions.

    Where have I said I’m a Republican? Where have I said I’m a conservative?

    They donate to the GOP and vote that way.

    Okay…this doesn’t make them not a problem? That they don’t also have the defined benefits problem?

    The most egregious examples of bad union behavior are almost always with police unions, yet all efforts at eliminating/modifying public unions are aimed at teachers.

    Probably because there are more teachers than cops. LAPD has over 13,000 employees. LAUSD has almost 32,000 teachers.

  • Just to put those teacher:cops numbers into perspective. If cops and their pension plan is a $10 billion problem, then teachers are a $25 billion problem if that 2.5:1 rate holds. You get more bang for your buck with the teachers. However, both pension plans need to be switched over to a defined contribution program going forward. That would be the least painful approach IMO and an imminently fair one as well.

  • You know the partisan insipidness regarding the public employee pension plan is simply amazing. It is a sustainability issue. We just can’t keep going this way, but people start focusing on Red vs. Blue, Democrats vs. Republicans, and then there are the true political trolls like Michael who is trying to play the race card on top of it.

  • michael reynolds

    You know that the GOP NEVER goes after police unions.

    Bingo. It’s enough to make you suspect that his hard-on for teachers is more about their support for Democrats than anything else, as I suggested the other day, in another of my embarrassing clueless remarks.

    See, it’s all about the money and just the money and absolutely not about partisan politics, heaven forfend! Which is why Republicans go after veterans and their benefits. Right? Fair is fair. Because it’s totally not about the fact that vets vote GOP. It’s not as if fiscal conservatives wall off their own favored constituencies from attack (Iowa farmers, current Medicare recipients in Florida, veterans in Virginia, criminal bankers, presidential candidates who use their church to hide money,) while assaulting teachers.

    By the way, has anyone got numbers on how much we’ve incurred in veteran’s benefits as a consequence of Iraq and Afghanistan? I’m sure there’s a conservative think tank that is all over those socialist moochers.

    My dad retired at age 39 with a military pension, full health care, educational benefits, preferred job placement and boy, the Republicans won’t stop talking about how expensive almost 40 years of his benefits are.

  • Michael Reynolds, so thick headed a 120mm sabot round could not penetrate it.

  • Drew

    Snark is fun, Michael. But do you have the capacity for anything but a cartoonish argument?

    The people you need be concerned about are The Average Joes. Did you see that about 70% of job creation the past several years, such as the bogus unemployment statistic is, are govt jobs? Beaurocrats? You find this acceptable?

    BTW – the only thing keeping me from the golf course is my upcoming sub-Q transpositional ulnar nerve surgery. Check it out. That’s my meat they will be carving on next Monday.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4PvzSIGfKQ

  • Andy

    steve and Michael,

    Now you are being disingenuous. You know that the GOP NEVER goes after police unions.

    True, but also irrelevant. I’m not sure how pointing out GoP hypocrisy regarding union support (and I agree they are hypocrites) is going to convince anyone, especially those of us who are uninterested in keeping partisan score, that unions today are a net good for society as currently structured in the US.

    I’ll just restate my position: I think private sector unions have been so successful over the past century that they’ve almost made themselves obsolete in America. They decisively won on all the big questions, which are either accepted norms or regulated by government or both. Still, I do think that private sector unions – or at least the threat of them – serves as a necessary check on the excesses of business. I also agree with Dave that in the U.S. the union-management dynamic is unhelpful and is mired in needless antagonism that is no longer relevant and which ends up hurting union workers and the firms themselves. That’s not just a union problem, obviously. The inability of GM’s and it’s unions to get past that antagonism is a big reason GM failed as a company. Just look at the NUMMI experiment that never caught on for what might have been.

    I’m much more skeptical regarding public sector unions and see little justification for them. Furthermore, too often public sector union interest clashes with notions of civil service and good governance. One egregious example is the California prison guard union advocating for the three strikes law. Public employee unions also don’t do themselves any favors when they protect people who should be fired or prosecuted. The impression that leaves, whether true or not, is that union loyalty comes before loyalty to the public those employees are supposed to serve.

    Michael,

    And as I recall libertarian talking points on this, it was gonna kill us all because we have environmental regulations and they don’t, something to do with Keystone pipeline, and we won’t let employers pay people in gruel, plus teachers for some reason, and we’re on the cusp of the true apocalypse: health insurance exchanges.

    I’ve been reading libertarians for a long time, and I don’t recall any of that. Do you have any examples? Ideologically, it doesn’t make sense for libertarians to suggest that a state-controlled, one-party pseudo-capitalist state is a superior economic model to the US system, even with its imperfections.

  • jan

    Good analysis, Andy about unions.

    I agree that private sector unions have been beneficial in equalizing the employee/employer environments, creating solutions and fair compromises, rather than festering conflicts or undue taking advantage of employees by egregious employers. On the other hand, public sector unions have had too much leverage and power in the workplace, especially when union dues and membership are not freely engaged in by workers. Much of the times unions do nothing more than keep us stuck in old modes of thinking and doing, all because they want to keep unqualified members in place….forever.

    Many of the things labeled racism are not, and the actual problems are never addressed. Many of these problems are multifaceted and complicated.

    So true TastyBits! Pulling the race card these days, is just another way to not be accountable for yourself. It’s akin to the “Crying Wolf” parable, in that it has been so frequently and inappropriately used as a tool, mainly by the left, when there is nothing left to deflect away from what is really happening, or how inept a politician, or VIP equivalent, is when they are a person of color.

    Drew,

    I thought you had a back problem not a nerve one. Anyway, much success with your upcoming procedure.

  • jan

    Just as an example of the union’s overall power broker mentality — apparently there is concern by some that too many Michigan union members will not pay their dues.

    An elected Democrat official, on Michigan’s new Right To Work law: “There will be fights on the shop floor if many workers announce they will not pay union dues.”

    When has the right to chose only been a part of the liberal agenda when it comes to abortion? How about speading it around to the work place and schools, too!

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    I have never claimed racism does not exist. Racism is alive and well in the US, and the election of a black President has not changed that.

    Somehow rich liberals are able to identify racism, but they are unable to identify the more integrated areas to live. You do not call the police about a young black male wearing a hoodie because the police take care of the problem. The racists in my neighborhood do not have the option of moving if the neighborhood gets too dark.

    Racist and bigots also work and live around black and brown people, but if they could avoid it, they would. I assume it was Long Beach, CA where you were collecting rent. It has been some time since I was there, but it was one of the darker areas of LA. I can assure you the slumlord’s white rent collector is considered a racist.

    Calling somebody you do not like does not make them a racist. I would suggest that most of the people you label racist are actually ignorant bigots. You can educate an ignorant bigot, but a racist will never change. The ignorant bigot does not threaten anybody about any racial issue.

    There is zero doubt in any fair person’s mind that naked racism plays a big part in the rage against Obama and all his works. How many previous presidents have had their citizenship questioned repeatedly, persistently, in the face of all evidence?

    How many previous Presidents were impeached over a blowjob? Republicans are assholes, and some of them are racists.

    And no, there is no parallel in the Democratic Party.

    There are a lot of racists who are Democrats. Sneak into a gathering of Clinton supporters. I was surprised to learn many people I know are Obama supporters. Apparently, President Obama is not a “f*cking n*gger”. The usual explanation was that he was not one of them.

    So, sorry, but yelling “race card!” doesn’t intimidate me.

    You do not have a “race card”. You have a “Jewish card”, but I do not think you have actually played it. None of them impress me, but I have been known to pull a punk card.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    Republicans “support the troops”, but they “f*ck the vets”. Republicans have added disabled vets to those “looking for goodies”.

    The criminal bankers are being protected by Timothy Geithner.

  • Drew

    jan

    I do have a back (cervical spine) problem. It turns out that an entrapped ulnar nerve at the elbow presents in the fingers, hand and forearm just like a C8 nerve compression in the neck. A “too good looking” cervical MRI plus and a subsequent EMG study got to the diagnosis. As crazy as it might sound, the rehab difficulty is better with the spine surgery.

    Thanks for the wishes. Monday and Tuesday are not going to be fun.

  • steve

    Drew- Best of luck.

    @Andy- I agree with your public sector union comment for the most part. I would say that a lot of their pension problems come from the politicians managing the money and not the unions themselves. I have advocated for defined contributions to alleviate that. The prison guard union is an example I sometimes use, but then I recall that the private prison corporations have large numbers of politicians on retainer.

    Being a free speech guy, I am not sure why the unions should have less access to swaying the public than a corporation, or some billionaire. Cant quite reconcile that. I guess it is easier for those on the right who think that great wealth grants individuals the right to sway public policy, but not a large group combining individual small contributions.

    Steve

  • Michael,

    There is zero doubt in any fair person’s mind that naked racism plays a big part in the rage against Obama and all his works. How many previous presidents have had their citizenship questioned repeatedly, persistently, in the face of all evidence?

    Exactly which of us “conservative” commenters here have questioned President Obama’s citizenship? Which of us have made even the slightest reference to his color?

    Here is a suggestion, if you can’t produce even the tiniest bit of evidence, how about you STFU about these two issues. It may play well over at OTB, but here you just look like a moron.

  • Drew

    Thanks, steve.

    Steve V – Michael has become hysterical in recent months, and is the straw man King.

    steve – I don’t think the public union issue is a free speech issue, its a feathering the nest issue. Unions contribute to politicians who in turn grant favorable terms to public unions. They are all negotiating with themselves at taxpayers expense. Also, I don’t know of any politicians who are “managing” public employees money. Those are third parties with fiduciary duties. Perhaps you meant politicians granting terms, not managing pension returns.

  • Andy

    steve,

    Being a free speech guy, I am not sure why the unions should have less access to swaying the public than a corporation, or some billionaire.

    I’m a free speech guy too, so I agree. On the other hand, I think it’s distasteful when public servants consider the needs of the public to be secondary to increasing their job security, especially when it comes to something like putting more people in prison.

    So, in general, I would question why public sector unions need collective bargaining rights when they have the ability to exercise free speech to convince the public to adopt policies that benefit them, and the ability to lobby for and contribute money to the politicians who ultimately determine their compensation, who their bosses are, etc. Those are advantages private-sector unions don’t have.

  • Steve V – Michael has become hysterical in recent months, and is the straw man King.

    It isn’t just straw man arguments though. He is attacking what he thinks are people’s motivations. It isn’t that I’ve arrived at some conclusion because of an error in my thought process or my starting assumptions are wrong or something like that. No, no I must hate Barack Obama, the man, because he is black and had the effrontery to get himself elected POTUS. And to make matters worse he isn’t even a citizen of these United States!! Michael either will not or more likely cannot show where I’ve made a mistake in thinking about about issue so he has to attack my motivations. Paint me as a racist and then he wont have to argue against me. It is cheap and it is juvenile…which makes it truly amusing when Michael goes around proclaiming how mature and grown up he is…well when he isn’t bragging about how successful he is.

  • TastyBits

    @michael reynolds

    Because I think racism is a serious problem, this is the problem with shouting “racist” and “racism”. Many people who you call racist are ignorant bigots or racially insensitive. They believe the stereotypes and prejudge according to them. Of this group, many could be changed through education.

    There is a similarity with homosexual issues, but nobody is going to suddenly learn that their family member is black or brown. The point is that attitudes toward gay folks have changed dramatically in a short time. NOTE: I am in no way equating being gay with being black – not even a little bit.

    A lot of white people do not have much knowledge of black communities. They know some black folks through work or other interactions, but they assume the black folks have the same experiences as white folks.

    The police are one example of a stark difference between whit and black experience. Few white folks have had, or know somebody who has had, a bad experience with the police, and they project their knowledge onto black folks and the police. Depending upon where you live, the police may be worse than the criminals – the majority of the force and not a few “bad apples”. From many white folks perspective, there is no serious problem with the police. The problem is with those complaining.

    Some people are racists. Some people are racist sympathizers and willfully ignorant, and while there may be some technical differences, they are racists, also. Many people will begin to “get it”, but some of them are a little slower. The people who finally “get it” will begin to see the real racists.

    When you yell “racist” about a person, that person will immediately stop listening, and any chance to educate them is lost. Because you are the political “enemy”, they will assume the exact opposite further entrenching their ignorant bigotry. They will retort with “race card”, and when I beat you over the head, this further reinforces their righteousness.

    I would prefer to work with you to educate people. Working against you does more harm than good.

  • They know some black folks through work or other interactions, but they assume the black folks have the same experiences as white folks.

    I wish more people understood this, TastyBits. It’s not merely that different things happen (which they do) but that when they do happen their experience of them is different. It’s a bit hard to explain.

    A white, middle-class person who’s stopped by a policeman for speeding may see a blue collar guy who’s doing his job. He may be embarrassed or contrite or even, possibly, outraged. A black kid who’s stopped by a policeman for speeding may be in fear for his life. Same thing happened (stopped for speeding), different experience.

  • I would prefer to work with you to educate people. Working against you does more harm than good.

    Tasty,

    It might help you in your quest (one almost surely doomed to failure) to realize that Michael himself is a bigot. Anybody who he thinks is a “conservative” is not just merely making an error in their thought process they are somehow bad people. This is why he has no compunction using things like the race card, when nowhere have I indicated anything to suggest I have an issue with Obama’s race. I have issue with his policies, but to go from that to me being a racist requires somebody who has some sort of short circuit in their mental faculties, IMO.

    When you yell “racist” about a person, that person will immediately stop listening, and any chance to educate them is lost.

    I think this is true of just about anybody, racist or otherwise. And it is particularly true if this kind of statement is made when there is absolutely nothing to back it up.

    To be quite honest here, you are wasting your time with Michael, he has zero interest in reasoned discussion and/or changing his mind.

  • TastyBits

    @Steve Verdon

    I understand what you are saying, but I feel very strongly about the racism issue. If he is willing to work towards educating people, I am willing to accept his other traits, and I will even run interference for him, occasionally. If he can identify a real racist or racist sympathizer, I will excoriate them.

    The biggest difference between race based bigotry and any other kind is physical. Conservative, gay, gun enthusiast, Christian, etc. can all stay in the closet, but skin color is hard to hide. As such, racism is a special, and it cannot be equated to any other prejudice.

    I am a scary looking guy, and my bite is far worse than my bark. Few people would want to tangle with me based upon looks, but with a shave and a change of clothes, most people’s attitude would change. A black man does not have this option.

    Based upon my background, I have experience with both black and white worlds, and I do not mean knowing the “black guy” at work. Many black people know they do not share the same experiences as white people, and the “black friend” is probably not saying what he really feels. I have a fairly good idea of what and why that is. Few white liberals fully understand either, but they do understand there is a difference.

    Racists and racist sympathizers are never going to change, but through education, the ignorant can shed their bigotry or be exposed as racists.

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