On Wed, 29 Nov 2006 04:10:34 -0500, Bill in Detroit wrote:
That is a much more sensible argument than "it wastes a lot of energy to
ship something from Asia" but do they really make cars and appliances and
televisions and tools locally where you live?
Personally, national origin means a lot less to me than performance and
cost. I notice that it's always "Asia" that gets the complaints, I never
see anybody griping about those Swiss jigsaws. In the short run
protectionism helps the local economy, in the long run it hurts
everybody--want the Chinese to quit being a cheap labor market? Fine,
encourage them and pretty soon their labor rates will be right up there
with the US, Japan, and Germany. Took Japan about 40 years to get from
bombed out ruin to the second largest national economy in the world. One
wonders how long it will take China to get to that level.
The thing is, once Asia is all up to a high standard then it will be
Africa and once they're up there there isn't really much of anywhere else
left with a large population that will take starvation wages--this
century is probably going to be the one in which poverty in Africa is
finally solved not by the UN but by those hated multinational
corporations. In the meantime they're difficult to compete with.
International economics is a very difficult beast to predict with any
I rather suspect that the multinationals will, with the assistance of
complicit governments, 'solve' poverty by spreading less wealth more
evenly and pocketing the rest.
There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.
That's a nice theory, and it might work out that way.. I think it will
partially work that way for offshored jobs which require a highly
skilled and/or educated person and if the supply/demand factor drives
up the salaries in China. We've seen this happen to some extent with
the IT workers in India. They aren't making 4-5k/year anymore. They
still make less than US workers, but the gap is closing.
I'm not sure it will ever happen though for the textile workers and
other low skill jobs. The coorporations are not going to let them
unionize. The government isn't going to protect them. I think China is
going to be a good source of almost slave labor for coorporations for a
long time (unfortunately).
They've already started farming stuff out to parts of Africa, by the
One could have said that about Japan once. The trouble with "almost slave
labor" for some occupations and high pay for others is that eventually all
your workers move to the others, then you have to offer high pay to get
them to come back to the mill.
China has a very large population and relatively little industry, so it's
going to take a while to get there, but outside efforts to stifle their
economy will just prolong the process.
Good. The sooner they're brought up to a reasonable standard of living
the sooner they'll stop killing each other for hardscrabble farmland.
So if I follow the logic less fuel is burned and less pollution is
making a product in Asia
driving it to the dock
driving a cargo ship to CA or NJ
Driving it to my house
making a product in Ohio
driving it to my house
Do I have that right?
Actually, if the factory is near the dock and your house is near the dock
then yes, that might very well be right.
To take an example, a typical 18 wheeler uses 100 or so horsepower to haul
40 tons of freight, while a Liberty ship (a small WWII-vintage cargo ship)
uses 2500 horsepower to move 7,000 tons of freight.
I suspect that, on a ton / mile basis, trains use less fuel. They aren't
pushing water out of the way. They aren't fighting currents and cross
winds. They haven't nearly the frictional resistance.
Bulk stuff leaving Asia for Europe will often chug across the Pacific,
roll across the US, then chug across the Atlantic. Saves both time AND
Cargo ships don't have to have a fleet of vehicles doing repairs and
maintenance on tracks, nor do they cause other vehicle traffic to stop,
idle for 10 minutes and then accelerate back up to speed when they roll
On Mon, 27 Nov 2006 14:55:42 -0500, Bill in Detroit wrote:
You're not a sailor are you? Anyone who is has had the experience at
least once in his life of standing with one leg on the dock and one on the
boat and finding that his weight exerts enough force to move a hundred
tons of boat far enough from the dock to drop him in the drink.
You don't move 100 tons of train with one person's muscle power.
Cargo ships don't "fight currents", they use them--ocean currents are well
charted. As for "fighting cross winds" trains "fight" them too--has to be
a Hell of a lot of wind before one does anything resembling "fighting" it
I would be _very_ surprised if unloading it on the west coast and loading
it on the east coast was cheaper than just leaving it on the boat and
running it through the Canal.
Life is full of little surprises.
I worked for Conrail as a Conductor for 11 years and saw an awful lot of
such freight. Going straight across the US is cheaper than detouring a
thousand miles south, waiting to use the canal, PAYING passage through
the Panama Canal, passing through the canal and then recouping the lost
thousand miles (all the while paying wages to the sailors and handling
maintenance on a very big machine). I probably have the mileage wrong,
but I think I've got a handle on the principle.
Then, too, there's the issue of getting a load to return home with.
Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as
one goes on.
Bill in Detroit wrote:
> I worked for Conrail as a Conductor for 11 years and saw an awful
> such freight. Going straight across the US is cheaper than detouring a
> thousand miles south, .....
All you have to do is drive from Los Angeles to Needles across the
California desert to truly appreciate how truly massive the unit
trains are as they head across the country.
Maybe 200 railroad cars with four (4), 53 ft box trailers on each car
would not be atypical.
Expect to see one of those trains at least every 4-6 hours.
Lots of retailers use those trains as their "warehouse", thus actual
inventories are kept to a minimum.
well, unless you mine your own ore, use locally produced power to smelt
it and manufacture with it, all at the same or better efficiencies as
large scale industry does, the difference of pollution from shipping
the finished goods disappears pretty fast.
Not to mention that they make stuff cheaper and "better" by polluting.
Some of these companies finish parts of the manufacturing process on
the ships and
dump the waste in the ocean on the way to the USA.. Our great
grandchildren are going to pay the price for those cheap tools we are
Just retired after 30 years in the U.S. Navy with 18.5 of those years riding
warships at sea and I've never seen a ship that performs manufacturing at
sea, it is just too expensive to waste cargo space on people and shops.
Everything is in conex boxes or bulk for liquid/gas. Manufacturers load into
conex boxes at the plant and hundreds of boxes are loaded by crane onto the
ship to minimize time alongside the pier.
The shipper makes money in transit, not at pierside.
I'd be interested in seeing anything that is actually processed at sea,
I have a relative in the steel business. Apparently his company buys
some kind of parts that require some kind of coating on them. On the
ship to America, the parts get coated and then the waste from the
coating process is just dumped in the ocean. In the USA, the coating
would be considered hazardous waste and expensive to dispose of
properly. The damn Chineese don't care and just dump the shit in the
ocean to get rid of the "problem" of how to dispose of it.
I'm not sure how new this practice is, but it happens.
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