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The Rise of American Incompetence
Slate ^ | March 15, 2008 | Daniel Gross

Posted on 03/24/2008 5:32:41 PM PDT by forkinsocket

We used to be the world's most skillful entrepreneurs and managers. Now we're laughingstocks. What happened?

The dollar plunged to new lows against foreign currencies this week. There are plenty of reasons for its plunge, but at the most basic level, the dollar's weakness reflects the world's collective, two-thumbs-down verdict about the ability of the United States—businesses, individuals, the government, the Federal Reserve—to manage the global financial system and the world's largest economy. Countries that outsourced their monetary policy by pegging domestic currencies to the dollar are having second thoughts. Kuwait last year detached the dinar from the dollar, and Qatar government officials last week said they were considering doing the same with their currency. International financiers are unnerved by the toxic combination of "misplaced assumptions about housing, a lack of necessary regulation and irresponsible use of debt with sophisticated financial instruments," said Ashraf Laidi, currency strategist at CMC Markets.

Dissing American financial management is an affront to national pride tantamount to standing in Rome and asking, loudly, if Italians are able to make pasta. The United States invented the concept and practice of running large, complex systems. Along with baseball and deep-frying, management is one of our great national pastimes. The world's first MBAs were awarded by pioneering yuppie factories such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. (Wharton's founding in 1881 was quickly followed by the world's first time-share summer houses in the Hamptons.) Henry Ford's revolutionary assembly line was the gold standard in global manufacturing for decades. Contemporary American institutions stand for excellence in managing everything from supply chains (Wal-Mart) to delivery services (Federal Express and UPS).

Americans' ability to manage complex systems has been the ultimate competitive advantage.

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial
KEYWORDS: management
.
1 posted on 03/24/2008 5:32:42 PM PDT by forkinsocket
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To: forkinsocket

Gracious! Nostalgic frisson here!

I recall as a boy in the seventies reading articles like this on weekly basis.

The question is: do they piss you off or warm the cockles of your self-hating liberal heart?


2 posted on 03/24/2008 5:34:39 PM PDT by sinanju
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To: forkinsocket

We can still manage large, complex systems.

Only now the goal is to put all the money in management’s pocket, not the the stockholder’s pocket. Looked at from that point of view, we are very successful.


3 posted on 03/24/2008 5:35:59 PM PDT by proxy_user
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To: forkinsocket

Maybe we need to crank out some more MBAs and lawyers.


4 posted on 03/24/2008 5:39:20 PM PDT by The_Media_never_lie
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To: forkinsocket

In a word - Democatcongress. Any time the Democrats get in power, they manage to so completely trash the USA that malaise takes hold real fast.


5 posted on 03/24/2008 5:42:38 PM PDT by Twinkie (TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT !!!)
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To: forkinsocket
a lack of necessary regulation

Well, can't argue with that. I haven't seen much necessary regulation.

6 posted on 03/24/2008 5:43:22 PM PDT by Still Thinking (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: forkinsocket

Might have something to do with the crap public schools we’re stuck with (thanks to the NEA)— pumping out semi-literate useful idiots now for 30 years.


7 posted on 03/24/2008 5:43:23 PM PDT by Zman516 (socialists & muslims -- satan's useful idiots.)
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To: Zman516

Hey, ya can’t give what ya don’t got.


8 posted on 03/24/2008 5:44:36 PM PDT by Still Thinking (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: forkinsocket

Inculcated by DemoLiberal socialst “feel good” policies that have ruined our education system for over 40 years now.


9 posted on 03/24/2008 5:44:48 PM PDT by DGHoodini (A person educated without being taught morals, is a menace to society.)
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To: forkinsocket

The US economy continues to outperform other industrialized countries. News of our demise is premature.

Try this exercise - think of as many huge US companies as you can that didn’t exist thirty years ago. Not that hard, is it?

Now do the same for Europe. Well, there’s SAP, and then what?


10 posted on 03/24/2008 5:45:07 PM PDT by Toskrin (Bringing you global cooling since 1999)
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To: Twinkie

They have the Midas touch in reverse. Everything they touch turns to turds


11 posted on 03/24/2008 5:48:38 PM PDT by infantrywhooah
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To: Toskrin

Airbus, or whatever they’re calling themselves now, but they had to suck government tit for how long before they could stand on their own, and even then, there are leftists who are voting with their dollars by refusing to buy anything BUT Airbus (Jet Blue, for one).


12 posted on 03/24/2008 5:49:32 PM PDT by Still Thinking (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: forkinsocket

Aren’t we teaching our young that self-esteem is more important than competence? So why be surprised?


13 posted on 03/24/2008 5:56:21 PM PDT by 353FMG (Vote for the Person who will do the least damage to our country.)
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To: forkinsocket

But on the plus side, American Idol is on tomorrow night!


14 posted on 03/24/2008 5:58:01 PM PDT by ItsOurTimeNow (For True Reform - Josiah / Hilkiah '08!)
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To: forkinsocket
"We used to be the world's most skillful entrepreneurs and managers. Now we're laughingstocks. What happened?"

We've abandoned, and banned, to great extents, the true source of wealth: manufacturing things that we want. Those who derive temporary wealth for themselves from the growing richness of other countries do so at the expense of our Nation. They sponsor propaganda through media companies to distract from the problem with their doubletalk.
15 posted on 03/24/2008 5:58:19 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), '89-'96, Duncan Hunter or no-vote)
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To: forkinsocket

BTW, our Federal Reserve is not to blame. Democrats are no more to blame than Republicans, as McCain will continue selling our Nation out to the Asian communists as much as Hillary will. Thus, the current Republican campaign to elect Hillary... Obama is no better or worse, having been trained as the other liberaltarian/slaver/lawyer politicians are.


16 posted on 03/24/2008 6:04:21 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), '89-'96, Duncan Hunter or no-vote)
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To: forkinsocket

There was a time, before FDR, that currencies floated pretty freely. Currency fluctuations are what corrects economic excesses.

But as Keynesian economics took over(a newfangled way to say Bread and Circuses), govt debt and taxation built up, so that not only were we not competitive, but we were dependent on foreigners to fund that debt, meaning our currency couldn’t float to correct excess govt spending.

This isn’t the fault of our free market economy. This is the direct fault of socialist govt policies.


17 posted on 03/24/2008 6:13:04 PM PDT by Free Vulcan (No prisoners. No mercy.)
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To: familyop
We've been busy eliminating "jobs in manufacturing" but not the manufacturing itself. We make more stuff than ever, and a far higher percentage of it is done by industrial robots or automated systems than in other industrial nations except, perhaps, Japan.

Eventually there will be no assembly-line employment in the United States ~ probably within a couple of decades.

18 posted on 03/24/2008 6:14:59 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Toskrin

Europe is history. Don’t mention Europe and competition is the same breath.

However, there are many HUGE Chinese and Indian companies that did not exist thirty years ago: Haier, Huwaei, Infosys, Wipro, Lenovo, Suntech, ICBC, Sinosteel, Chinalco. (And a lot more are coming!).


19 posted on 03/24/2008 6:19:36 PM PDT by KingJaja
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To: muawiyah

Some examples?


20 posted on 03/24/2008 6:25:39 PM PDT by truthguy (Good intentions are not enough)
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To: forkinsocket

“A graduate of Cornell University, Gross holds an A.M. in American history from Harvard University.”

Daniel Gross, not an economist.


21 posted on 03/24/2008 6:26:27 PM PDT by Uncle Miltie (New York Times Endorsed!!!)
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To: forkinsocket

I don’t think Americans are incompetent, but there’s a lot of competition out there. Nokia and Samsung are giving Motorola a run for its money. We’ve ceded shipbuilding to the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. Infosys and Tata Consultancy are competing with Accenture and IBM.

We don’t need to be smug or alarmist, we just need to work smarter and harder.


22 posted on 03/24/2008 6:27:08 PM PDT by KingJaja
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To: forkinsocket

The reason for this problem is egalitarianism.


23 posted on 03/24/2008 6:33:01 PM PDT by DilJective (Who is Francisco D'Anconia?)
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To: forkinsocket

No, we’re not going to go to global financial management, so stick it.

Of course they hate our weak dollar, no Americans vacation over there because it’s too expensive. Europeans come here for their vacations because they get a lot more bang for their buck. We can sell our manufactured goods over there very easily because they’re cheaper than their own, and on and on and on.


24 posted on 03/24/2008 6:33:49 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (Proud member of "Operation Chaos" having the T-shirt , ball cap and bumpersticker to prove it.)
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To: truthguy; muawiyah
Because the population and, hence, the labor force has grown, the share of manufacturing employment (to total employment) has been steadily falling since the Korean War. Approximately one in every three workers was employed in manufacturing after the Second World War; today, that number is about one in ten. Although the share of manufacturing employment has steadily fallen over time, the share of manufacturing output (to total output) has been remarkably stable over the same period. Labor productivity growth in manufacturing over this period can explain the falling employment share and the constant output share.

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/02/manufacturing_e.html

Photobucket

25 posted on 03/24/2008 6:45:04 PM PDT by A.Hun (Common sense is no longer common.)
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To: forkinsocket

Yeah, if you’re out of ideas for your weekly column in Slate, you can always join the other members of the liberal croaking chorus and rundown your country for a few laughs.


26 posted on 03/24/2008 6:51:35 PM PDT by Captain Rhino ( If we have the WILL to do it, there is nothing built in China that we cannot do without.)
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To: muawiyah
"We've been busy eliminating "jobs in manufacturing" but not the manufacturing itself. We make more stuff than ever, and a far higher percentage of it is done by industrial robots or automated systems than in other industrial nations except, perhaps, Japan.

Eventually there will be no assembly-line employment in the United States ~ probably within a couple of decades.
"

That's not ultimately a bad trend, IMO. I haven't seen US manufacturing statistics outside of brief articles containing special interest skews and terseness, though.


27 posted on 03/24/2008 6:52:10 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), '89-'96, Duncan Hunter or no-vote)
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To: forkinsocket

Well, I can only speak from my limited view. In the last 10 years I have seen a world leading company managed into a bunch of bumbling fools. It would be funny, but they sign my check.


28 posted on 03/24/2008 6:54:55 PM PDT by Dawggie
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To: muawiyah

What is bad, is that we’re turning our own men away from robotics, controls, etc., at very young ages (starts with our pathological policies to cause fatherlessness and depopulation, teacher hatred against boys,...) and preferring only foreign students and women for such work. Most of the women don’t want to do it, so our business managers prefer foreign men.


29 posted on 03/24/2008 7:06:10 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), '89-'96, Duncan Hunter or no-vote)
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To: Uncle Miltie
Daniel Gross, not an economist.

I bet he had a chris-matthews-like thrill running up and down his leg while he wrote this death-to-america piece.

30 posted on 03/24/2008 7:10:55 PM PDT by Vision Thing
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To: familyop
We are? I have hundreds of computer games around here that enable even young children and old geezers to operate what amount to robots to do a wide variety of things.

We are several generations ahead of the world when it comes to assimilating to the new robotics.

Resistance is futile.

31 posted on 03/24/2008 7:11:25 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: familyop
We've abandoned, and banned, to great extents, the true source of wealth: manufacturing things that we want.

True, and how many American companies make the very best of something whatever it might be? Very few.

Somewhere back in the 1970's American companies went to making cheaper mediocre products where the emphasis was only on cost. That is why moving the production to China went so fast.

32 posted on 03/24/2008 7:24:39 PM PDT by Last Dakotan
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To: sinanju
...do they piss you off or warm the cockles of your self-hating liberal heart?

A little self-reflective time is good for anyone.

Japan for instance publicly called their shoddy products a "National Shame" in the 1950's.

33 posted on 03/24/2008 7:28:02 PM PDT by Last Dakotan
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To: forkinsocket

Oh, boo hoo! There are many reasons for the depreciation of the US dollar but “incompetence”? Hardly.

After WWII, America decided, unilaterally, to shoulder the burden of running the global economy, even when it wasn’t in its best interest to do so. It encouraged and protected international trade. It allowed itself to be the world’s export dumping ground without demanding other nations reciprocally open their markets to US exports. It allowed its factories to be shipped in toto to China and other nations. It allowed its advanced technology to be used by others, mostly gratis, for the ideal of lifting the world’s economic standard of living.

It became the world’s policeman since no one else could do the job.

Unlike every other superpower in history, it DID NOT extract tribute from its weaker neighbors. It did not expropriate the natural resources of other nations. It did not seize the richest and most strategic lands of others for concession.

Instead, we have the astonishing spectacle, never before seen in history, of the victor spending its treasury in rebuilding the vanquished. It also gives billions every year to nations that hate it and consistently vote against it in the UN.

These burdens are unprecedented in human history and is simply too great to bear for any single nation. It has kept the value of the US dollar much higher than where it should be, just to help the economies of other nations. Now that the standards of living between nations are leveling, it becomes more and more onerous for the US to be carrying this burden alone. IOW, the margins are getting tighter.

It is true that the welfare state, liberalism, political correctness, and multiculturalism have been tremendous multi-trillion dollar drains on the economy; but it is shared among all western nations, excluding Far East ones, who don’t have this Caucasian mental illness. Those that don’t subscribe to these lunacies, like Japan and the other Asian Tigers, face rapidly aging populations and below-replacement birth rates, giving identical results. Those in Western Europe, who have BOTH anchors, will never be able to carry their own weight, must less replace the US. In fact, their collapse will occur at least a decade before the US.

All this whining of the declining dollar and skyrocketing deficit obscures the fact, if push comes to shove, the US simply doesn’t need to honor its debts, if the alternative is economic collapse. This leaves debtors like China, holding a trillion dollars of useless electronic IOUs. They are trapped into continually propping up the US dollar since the alternative is revolution from the enraged masses who’ve los their life savings.


34 posted on 03/24/2008 7:28:24 PM PDT by Edward Watson (Fanatics with guns beat liberals with ideas)
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To: Edward Watson

Edward:
Excellent retort.


35 posted on 03/24/2008 7:41:44 PM PDT by mkleesma
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To: muawiyah

It’s no wonder that foreign children write game engines and objects to parody gay characters like Daemia and Grunt (Quake 3) for free. That’s far from milling, turning, grinding and shaping a lot of parts, though. And whose posterior is all of the steel stock for our massive manufacturing coming out of these days? ...the mind of which importer’s journalist? After Charlie no longer needs our dollars so much, he probably won’t find it in his loving heart to spare an ingot for our lazy selves.


36 posted on 03/24/2008 7:44:36 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), '89-'96, Duncan Hunter or no-vote)
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To: Last Dakotan
Yes, cheap mediocre products like, for example, jet planes.

A mere half century ago we were hopelessly behind the Third Reich and Japan in that product line ~ even though they were defeated and flat on their backs.

37 posted on 03/24/2008 7:51:17 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Matchett-PI

Not only is it too expensive, but who wants to go abroad and be lectured about what laughingstocks we are by a bunch of smug eurosocialists (in love with the smell of their own farts) in the pub.


38 posted on 03/24/2008 7:52:50 PM PDT by ichabod1 (I'm a TWiP and I'm proud.)
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To: Last Dakotan
" True, and how many American companies make the very best of something whatever it might be? Very few.

Somewhere back in the 1970's American companies went to making cheaper mediocre products where the emphasis was only on cost. That is why moving the production to China went so fast.
"

...agreed. Way back then, I saw it. Here's a quick anecdote.

It was about 108 degrees in the shop, with arcs flashing here and there. Smoke from welders filled the air. Just before the half-hour meal break, I peeled my soaked t-shirt off and put another one on. A tall and high-heeled woman from the office strutted through the center of the shop, between the yellow safety lines, and stared at me with a grin. I refused to ostensibly look back at her or to make any sound. She was the wife of a man who did not work there.

A few minutes later, the plant Superintendent (married to a woman who did not work there) came down, wild-eyed. He was a former high-ranking Navy officer. He walked quickly up to me, screamed obscenities, grabbed the manual feed control on the machine, broke a tool (worth hundreds) and risked our lives with the shrapnel from it.

I saw it many times on several jobs. It was not so much about money. Our manufacturing went out the window to foreign countries with the childish pride and immoral mindsets of our management. It went out with the hatred of some Americans against their own neighbors. Our universities went that way, as did our public schools and political activities.

It's their kids against our kids. The class war was started a long time ago.

There was a time when our then-conservative leaders rightfully preached the wisdoms of the healthiness of domestic business competition and avoidance of class wars. Apparently...no more.

The problems are not only caused by our various kinds of leaders, either. Our Nation needs a bath. Otherwise, we'll elect something like Hillary and be attacked with heavy intensity by antagonistic nations (something that can't happen and shouldn't be planned against these days, according to our contemporary weenie commander doctrine).
39 posted on 03/24/2008 8:02:29 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), '89-'96, Duncan Hunter or no-vote)
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To: muawiyah
"Yes, cheap mediocre products like, for example, jet planes."

while (BoeingWichita == whorehouse)
     contract->Airbus();
40 posted on 03/24/2008 8:12:55 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), '89-'96, Duncan Hunter or no-vote)
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To: ichabod1

LOL Exactly


41 posted on 03/24/2008 8:38:46 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (Proud member of "Operation Chaos" having the T-shirt , ball cap and bumpersticker to prove it.)
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To: muawiyah
Yes, cheap mediocre products like, for example, jet planes. A mere half century ago we were hopelessly behind the Third Reich and Japan in that product line ~ even though they were defeated and flat on their backs.

Pssst! Don't mention Airbus or aerial tankers, O.K.?

42 posted on 03/24/2008 10:22:15 PM PDT by investigateworld ( Abortion stops a beating heart.)
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To: investigateworld
Pssst! Don't mention Airbus or aerial tankers, O.K.?

Or the domestic content of the 787. Given the trend, one has to wonder if the 797 (if there is one) will be built entirely overseas.

43 posted on 03/25/2008 6:24:38 AM PDT by Last Dakotan
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To: Last Dakotan

It was reported here Boeing was contracting out engineering work for their new products. Sounds like Boeing plans to eventually just become a marketing concept.
Sort of like Black and Decker has become.


44 posted on 03/25/2008 10:56:43 AM PDT by investigateworld ( Abortion stops a beating heart.)
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