WSJ’s Prescription For 3rd World Manufacturing Failures Forgets History

Donald A. Collins | 25 November 2015
Church and State

A worker takes a break at a workshop in Rajkot, India, that stopped making diesel-engine parts and laid off 100 people as the industry was getting hit hard by Chinese competition.

The third article on November 25th entitled “A Blocked Path to Development” in the continuing Wall Street Journal series on “Demographic Destiny,” offers more specious insights for unwary readers about the future.

The series started with the presumption that the solution to the problems it depicts is fostering the growth of human numbers, but this article seems to ignore the well known phenomenon in business known as “creative destruction” which allows progress by competition that creates new products and services.

This article’s particular emphasis, subtitled titled, “For Poor Countries, Well-Worn Path to Development Turns Rocky” takes up virtually the entire article showing us pictures of manufacturing operations in developing countries that are failing. The text is quite limited but here is the listing of dismal situations.

One wonders what this article seeks to prove about demography other than saying that the high tech developed countries have made even the cheap labor attractiveness of the developing contries not good enough, particularly when massive money now goes to automation, even as the articles report when the developing countries try to automate.

We were with article one completely confused by any argument that would suggest that adding more poor people to this dismal mix would produce better results.

Now are they arguing that the old ways are better and should not be supplanted by improvements???

Actually, the West is educating massive numbers of people from all over the world and the developing nations themselves are making great strides to not only pick the brains of the West (legally and illegally with cyber theft) but to improve on products which the West makes.

My son, an engineer with 35 years of manufacturing experience recently found he could source a product needed for a machine he was building at a price from China over 10 times cheaper than the one he could buy here in the USA.

Yes, wages as these articles point out are going up in China and India, but competition and the access to the world wide web will certainly mean that while “creative destruction” of the less efficient facilities both in the West and in developing countries will continue, there is no reason to believe that the conditions depicted by these dreary photos predict the future of 3rd World economic progress.

With one exception of course!!!!!!!!!!! If the 3rd world continues as at present it is doing in Africa to breed endless numbers of people it can’t absorb, the chaos will continue. However, it has been true for decades now that much has been done in Asia to reduce and control fertility to acceptable levels.

Now is certainly not the time to take the bad advice of this WSJ series and add more unneeded humans to the mix.

The Journal lists the titles of the next 4 article in this series.

Girl’s Life

Gender Gap

Promise of Youth

Aging Gracefully

Recall the many examples in the history of manufacturing flight from textiles mills in New England to the ones in the South and finally to China and elsewhere.

One wonders what these veteran WSJ writers got in the way of direction from their editor about writing this series. Each episode seems to ignore the history of overpopulation, the price of cheap labor and now the creative destruction of the manufacturing business as if nothing had been written about these issues before.

It is so incongruous to ignore the uniquely widespread current problems in today’s world with a recitation of subjects which have already been foreshadowed by similar conditions which have occurred in the past as if they were new and the likely outcomes not clear.

Worldwide terrorism now occurring on a scale never known before, the massive movement of people from their homelands causing huge disruptions and the threats posed by climate change suggest that the WSJ editor who instigated this series and his workers need go to history classes.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

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