We Are Number One.

Here’s a depressing read from the LA Times about how it’s taken us thirty plus years to realize that the wholesale liquidation of manufacturing is maybe a bad idea. Basically, a guy invents a super-battery that will solve our oil problems forever and make cars walk on walk on rainbows but he can’t get going in the US and is forced to start up in China, where all his workers steal his inventions and begin to compete with him and causing him (probably) ulcers. The article tries hard to remain optimistic, pointing to the creation of jobs in a re-purposed VHS tape factory outside Detroit. Of course, the catch is that two thirds of his booming business is already located in Changzhou, because it’s just so much cheaper. Sadder still is the fact that the company’s founder, Yet-Ming Chiang, wants to do it all in America but there’s just no way to compete. The stimulus did help Chiang’s venture a bit, so let’s hope that’s a continuing trend in the coming months. I just can’t get over how bone-headed it is that even black hearted capitalists can’t fathom that there’s money to be made by making things.

I wrote about it before in the case of energy. America FIRST!!! is more than an annoying sound bite screamed from a fat, clueless patriot; it requires work. The world is shifting slowly but inexorably towards a different way of harvesting resources. If we manage to keep from screwing up royally with adequately repair the damage from our oily addiction, we can lead the globe in high tech manufacturing of all kinds of things like awesome magic batteries. It will take time to wean ourselves off black goo but concrete support for alternatives like Mr. Chiang’s battery can certainly speed the process. Obama has done a decent job funneling some cash towards these sorts of endeavors but convincing both corporate overlords and know nothing lumpenproles that they stand to benefit from said investment is a tall order. With China and India getting a head start on the technology that will someday power the world, we are fast losing the ability to make up for lost time.

Incidentally, I would totally work in a battery factory. Something about it just strikes me as cool and kinda patriotic. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!


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