There is an important article in today's NYT. What is fascinating about this account of Apple's iphone production in Asia is not the usual left criticism of Asian working conditions. That is mentioned. Work is structured in an authoritarian manner, for low pay, and with long hours. But a good case is made here that this is not the main issue. Rather, the US simply lacks the economic and educational infrastructure to get the job done at all.
It would be nice if the NYT would delve into the causes of all this. They note that we lack the relevant numbers of workers with the relvant skills, that we lack huge amounts of manufacturing infrastructure, that what manufacturing we have has not kept up with the flexibility needed for 21st c production. They also note that a huge middle class that might have been trained in the relevant sorts of skills are employed in service, financial, and other auxilliary sectors of the economy. What they don't mention is that public decisions led to this. There are no doubt many decisions over the last 40 years that left us in such a situation, but I'd like to highlight one: military spending. The US - especially since the second half of the Carter administration - has diverted enormous resources from civilian infrastructure to military spending, regularly spending more on its military than the rest of the world combined. One occasionally hears about how this level of spending contributes to deficits and wars, or how it facilitates imperialism and authoritarian regimes abroad, but far less does one hear about how it leads to a country that is incapable of producing actual goods.
Seymour Melman devoted most of a career to warning of this and documenting the details. No one in power listened, and now it is left to the NYT t0 document the result.