Reply to post: Re: Beijing Intellectual Property Court

Chinese smartphone cable-maker chucks sueball at Apple

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Beijing Intellectual Property Court

"The system, as it was set up and continues to operate, has allowed companies in the West to stagnate or even decrease wages over the last nearly 40 years"

On the other hand 4-5 billion people have been lifted out of grinding poverty over that period - and as the manufacturers jump around trying to find the next cheapest place to make things like clothing because workers in XYZ country are demanding too much pay, they usually leave behind economies which have been healthily kickstarted and able to keep chugging along very nicely thank you. (along with that comes better health, living conditions, education, lifespan and fewer children. More than half the "developing" countries of 40 years ago are now "developed" or close to it and becoming major markets for foreign-produced stuff instead of principally being exporters of cheap goods or having no economy to speak of. China is now buying more whisky from Scotland than every other country combined, as one example)

What _has_ been proven over the last 60 years is that protectionism policies invariably benefit a few rich people whilst economically damaging the populations and the very manufacturers they're supposedly protecting - which is why american cars are hard to sell outside north america - the effective protectionism created by things like the Chicken Tax(*), or mandating that air/fuel ratios in gasoline engines must always be stochiometric instead of simply regulating tailpipe emissions and letting makers meet them however they choose(**) allowed US domestic manufacturers to be lazy and uncompetitive, producing cars that have awful fuel economy and poor reliability compared to what the rest of the world is now used to. They've improved a little but the US domestic market is still so heavily protected that they don't have to compete effectively to make sales targets.

(*) Which prevents foreign-made vans being imported without paying punitive taxes, originally targetted the VW T2 microbus in 1964 as retaliation for EU anti-dumping measures and is now used to keep Japan at bay.

(**) Japanese makers solved the NOX problem from running extremely lean gasoline ratios by using air pumps and complex catalysts, which gave them far better milage than american vehicles. American makers lobbied congress to mandate the air-fuel ratios, which meant they didn't have to spend more on production componentry or R&D and wiped out the fuel efficiency advantage of the foreign competition. The American public paid trillions at the fuel pumps as a result.

It's not a zero sum game by the way. "western" incomes have stagnated - primarily for manual and unskilled workers - but the inflation-adjusted global average has increased dramatically, as have the number of people in fulltime equivalent employment. What you're seeing in the UK in particular is what happens when you were in the top 5-10% of global income earners even just pushing a broom in a widget factory and someone can be employed to push a broom for less.

The solution is not to "yearn for days of old empire" or protectionism, or pretend that you can live in the same place forever if you want to keep doing the same kind of work. People need to work smarter, not harder, and as the UK ship building industry found out the hard way, refusing to adopt more efficient manufacturing techniques "because they'd cost some jobs" frequently results in ALL jobs at the employer going "phut". Competition is global. No amount of putting fingers in ears and going lalala will change that.

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