Jobs, those jobs are gone for ever.

Russ Steele

We were recently chastised by our local lefty blogger for pointing out the obvious that companies and job were leaving California. He went on to point readers to Apple’s new headquarters in Silicon Valley, declaring all is not lost.

Editor’s note: While our local political ideologues republish editorials from the OC Register (surprise, surprise!), lamenting the loss of Waste Connections to Texas (again), a revised rendering of Apple’s new headquarters in California was released this month. It is a reminder that “all is not lost” after all.

Really, a story in the Sunday Bee has a very different point of view:  How U.S. lost out on Apple’s iPhone work.

When President Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.

But as Steve Jobs of Apple spoke, Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: What would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Obama asked.

Jobs’ reply was unambiguous.

“Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

I highly recommend  you read the rest of the article HERE, where the authors recount the demise of Apple’s Elk Grove facility who once employed high paying engineers and now only hires low paying service people. Why you ask? From the article:

In part, Asia was attractive because the semiskilled workers there were cheaper. But that wasn’t driving Apple. For technology companies, the cost of labor is minimal compared with the expense of buying parts and managing supply chains that bring together components and services from hundreds of companies.

For Cook, the focus on Asia “came down to two things,” said one former high-ranking Apple executive.

Factories in Asia “can scale up and down faster” and “Asian supply chains have surpassed what’s in the U.S.” The result is that “we can’t compete at this point,” the executive said.

ooo

“The entire supply chain is in China now,” said another former high-ranking Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”

To put this story in some local context, one of the early ERC strategies in the 1990s for growing our local tech economy was a supply chain strategy, by encouraging the suppliers to our local applied technology cluster to relocate to Nevada County.

There were multiple reasons that strategy did not work out, but one was the lack of industrial space, and the anti-growth attitude of our Board of Supervisors at the time the strategy was in play. Any supplier could pick up a copy of The Union newspaper and see the no-growth attitude. No sane supplier would move in to a community that was not growing or had little potential to grow.

I have serious doubt that we can develop faster engineering responses and shorter supply lines for local industry given California’s current regulatory environment.

Were are the jobs now, they are in oil, gas and mining and Obama is blocking them with every scribble of his pen and every EPA wet dream on how to save the planet from CO2 emissions.  Approving the XL-Pipeline would have been a good start.  But, that oil is going to China, which will make them even more competitive while their energy cost go down, while our soar as promised by Obama.

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About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

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