As a made in USA shopping and style site, we generally prefer to be a source of positive news and high quality American-made products. But as a long-time Apple fan and dedicated iphone user, it could not escape my notice that the front page of this week's Sunday New York Times featured an article entitled, “How the United States Lost Out on iPhone Work.” I highly recommend reading the complete article when you have time. Written by Charles Duhigg and Keith Brasher, it is fascinating, compelling, infuriating and, actually, very, very sad.
Duhigg and Brasher's article is long and well-researched; to try to summarize it in a paragraph would do it a disservice. It begins with president Barack Obama asking Steve Jobs to his face, “What would it take to make iPhones in the United States?” The article tries to answer the question and, unfortunately, the answer it gives is something along the lines of, it's not gonna happen — that ship has sailed. The reasons why are many, but descriptions of Chinese workers living in dormitories, working 12 hour days, six days a week, were depressing. Apple's transition from a company that proudly boasted of being “a machine made in America” just 10 years ago to a company drawing more than 90% of its manufacturing form overseas is disheartening.
An unnamed Apple executive said in the article, “We shouldn't be criticized for using Chinese workers… The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need.” This statement stood out as the scariest of all because it ominously echoes the comments we have heard from the small companies we have talked to who are earnestly trying to make a go of manufacturing in the US. We are hearing that the state of manufacturing in America is dangerously precarious, at urgent risk of passing the point of no return. We were glad to hear of Obama asking questions along the lines of, “what would it take” to make American manufacturing stronger? Let's all keep asking. What would it take to bring back manufacturing as a foundational source of middle class jobs? What would it take to bring our most successful products home?
And please to continue to visit USA Love List to find the businesses and products keeping their work in the USA. They need our support as they are our best hope to rebuild for the future.