WSJ Series Notes Decline In Cheap Chinese Labor! Solution: Add More People!!!

Donald A. Collins | 24 November 2015
Church and State

(Credit: Kostmo / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Perhaps you read the first article in the Wall Street Journal’s present series on the need for more world population with some misgivings. I expressed my own in my 11/23/15 Church and State article entitled “Disastrous WSJ Page One Series Starts By Advocating More Population Growth”.

In this 2nd article, you will perhaps find the authors’ reasoning bizarre or even comically grotesque if its consequences were not so potentially devastating.

Sadly, in a newspaper which so often contains valuable and well researched writing, a series such as this one can offer nothing but twisted rhetoric and absurd conclusions.

But let’s get right to the text, which begins under the headlines, “End of Cheap Labor. As China’s Workforce Dwindles, the World Scrambles for Alternatives. Levi Strauss and other global brands are revamping as wages and robots multiply” by Kathy Chu and Bob Davis.

Thirty years ago, Levi Strauss & Co. began producing its iconic jeans in China, eager to tap a seemingly endless stream of workers willing to sew for a few dimes an hour. Now that stream is starting to dry up.

Over the coming decades, a labor shortage will force Levi and scores of other Western brands to remake their China operations or pack up and leave. The changes will mark a new chapter in the history of globalization, where automation is king, nearness to market is crucial and the lives of workers and consumers around the world are once again scrambled.

The stirrings of change are visible already. In an apparel factory in Zhongshan, a gritty city of three million stuffed with industrial parks across the Pearl River from Hong Kong, lasers are replacing dozens of workers who scrub Levi’s blue jeans with sandpaper to give them the worn look that American consumers find stylish. Automated sewing machines have cut the number of seamstresses needed to stitch arc designs into back pockets. Digital printers make intricate patterns on jeans that workers used to do with a mesh screen.

“Labor is getting more expensive and technology is getting cheaper,” says Andrew Lo, chief executive of Crystal Group, one of Levi’s major suppliers in China.

While China’s economic downturn is providing some respite from the labor crunch, Crystal’s blue-jeans factory here still pays 20% above the market rate. It organizes cooking classes and singing contests to keep workers happy.

Last month, China announced it was abolishing its decades-old policy restricting most couples to one child. But that won’t likely put much of a dent in the country’s looming demographic problem because relatively few Chinese prefer to have more than one child, economists note—and it will be at least 16 years before any additional babies make it to the job market.

Enough!? The authors and Chinese revocation of the 2 child policy argue more people would be better. For whom? Rich companies greedily seeking cheap labor.

We know all about that familiar scenario in our own country, where Silicon Valley has joined hands with the Vatican and the Hispanic lobbies to bring in millions of unneeded aliens.

Finally after decades of being shafted by both major US political parties, an outsider named Donald Trump called them on their perfidy and is currently leading the polls for the Republican Presidential nomination, much to the discomfiture of Jeb Bush type Republicans who want to keep their scam going indefinitely despite the pain already caused by this bi partisan fraud.

So what the WSJ authors are complaining about—the decline of cheap slave labor—can only be solved by creating more cheap slave labor? Really!?

Well, that might mean more emigration. I guess we don’t have enough displaced poor people in the world. The refugee crisis must not have come to the attention of these sage authors.

My, my, the article continues, saying, “Fearing that China will see an exodus of manufacturers, Chinese Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping last year called for “an industrial robot revolution” in China, which has become the world’s largest market for automation.”

So grow more people while developing machines that will eliminate jobs? Will someone explain to me how that helps China?

The focus ahead date of this series is how will things be in 2050. Well, the authors tell us,

Looking ahead to 2050, the future appears mixed for consumers around the globe. Low-cost production in China has helped suppress inflation in the U.S., Europe and at home. It is an open question whether automation can hold down costs as effectively as Chinese peasant labor did. But consumers should look forward to more choice, faster delivery and, perhaps, less harm to the environment.

Some technologists even think that inventions such as 3-D printing—essentially printers that replicate solid objects like copiers reproduce printed pages—will have a big impact by 2050. In such a world, printers could spew out clothing, food, electronics and other goods ordered online from a nearly limitless selection, with far fewer workers involved in production.

“In 2050, you could potentially have a 3-D printer at home that could produce all the fabrics you want,” said Roger Lee, the chief executive of Hong Kong’s TAL Group, which makes 1 of every 6 dress shirts sold in the U.S. for brands from Banana Republic to Brooks Brothers. “That would make us obsolete.”

Again I am in utter puzzlement. But the article must really want more and more immigration into the USA which creating more unused people to feed, clothe and house must imply.

Then the article goes into descriptions of what Chinese people can do to amuse themselves in their expanding out of work hours (cooking classes, pool, etc) so what about earning to eat? Doesn’t say.

However, there is hope say the authors. Going back to the provinces to take care of the growing number of elderly. Hmm. Remember the old song, “How ya gonna keep’m down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree”? Increasing numbers don’t help anyone anywhere except perhaps the seemingly certain continuing mad dash to more war so that the generals have more cannon fodder.

Just can’t wait to read the next in this series to see what astonishing reasons the WSJ will offer for creating more people than the planet can already handle without vast disruption, increasing terrorism and profoundly increased chances for the loss of personal freedoms.

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.

WSJ Page One Series: Other Articles by Don Collins

Humans Need Not Apply

Al Bartlett – Democracy Cannot Survive Overpopulation

Amazon Warehouse Robots : Mind Blowing Video

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