consultants are sandburs

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fast Track - Slow the hummer down to a crawl and then stomp it dead. Or not? What is it really about is a fine question because it's secret; the prols with their votes are excluced on a "need to know" framework. So, thought experiment time arises, with fewer than normal limits.


Start by watching this WIRED - YouTube video, and if interested further, the YouTube sidebar has follow up video of an equivalent, even cumulative nature. You can get the general drift. Tesla is automated manufacturing of an auto; with job density per unit output different from the 1970's auto plant assembly line producing inferior product per happiness and complacency between the likes of GM etc., and the UAW. Consumers got gas hogs designed little different from designs pre-WW II, but for the introduction of automatic transmissions.

NEXT: An email was forwarded to me that in part reports:

Fast Track Stalls (for the moment)—But Keep the Pressure On!

Friday afternoon the House voted for the Fast Track bill, or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) (219-211); however, they voted against Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation that is needed to advance Fast Track. That means we can still stop Fast Track early next week!

Thank you for your efforts that contributed toward stalling Fast Track—YOU really made a difference (and how often can we feel that our actions actually made an impact to our Congressional leaders?!) BUT WE MUST KEEP THE HEAT ON over the weekend and into next week! We need you to continue to contact your House representative as well as both of your Senators and urge them to reject Fast Track/TPA!

Here’s the situation: In order to pass Fast Track/TPA, the House must also approve the TAA because Senate passage back in May combined the TAA and TPA. The House will bring back this legislative package for a vote early next week, most likely on Tuesday. Alternatively, Fast Track can advance if the Senate opts to vote for the House version of the TAA.

Over the weekend there will be plenty of deal making and lobbying by the Obama Administration, huge corporations, and the GOP leadership to pass Fast Track. It’s critical that your voice be heard and that we do not let up the pressure to vote against Fast Track, a bill that essentially by-passes democratic legislative processes.

Please call your Representative and Senators now.

Fast track is a followup to earlier outsourcing what used to be good manufacturing jobs in this nation to low-pay nations in Asia. Costs to multinational firms and other producers were lowered that way, but the money stays overseas and stagnant wages here do not translate fully to greater consumer buying power benefit.

One interpretation, a possible scenario, focuses upon factory automation. Were automation to have been directly introduced here, as a policy, it might have been resisted as job-killing bad to even a monstrous unsettling thing.

Instead, surreptitiously ship the jobs, blame it on low wages abroad, and offer robotics as an answer to bringing manufacturing back to within the nation at prices competitive with cheap foreign labor.

The first part, what Ross Perot called "a giant sucking sound" as the jobs were lost has happened.

So, fast track is step 2? Think about it. Recall the opening video of Tesla's robotics manufacturing; with human labor, but with [in one of the two subsequent serial items] the factory spokesperson - head of manufacturing - mentioning being in Silicon Valley where quality universities abound. Factory grunts need not apply, nor those who ran up student debt in one of Col. Kline's bogus student loan mills. An educated work force would be the rule, as the Japanese, Koreans, Europeans and Chinese can provide. Specialized human tasking in support of the main "labor" force of robots is the rule at Tesla, and a forecast for a future. Rolls of specialized grades of Aluminum in, other materials in, finished electric cars out of a quality that one might crave ownership. A nice clean factory floor that even the Europeans working for Daimler of BMW might envy - at least their equivalent.

Bottom line: Cheap marginally skilled labor is not needed. Hand assembly of Nike shoes and apparel as well as iPhones will still involve specialized assembly by persons with small skilled hands and good vision, be they highly educated or merely trained to work 12-hour shifts at a single assembly point station knowing little else of the sum of manufacturing going on around them. That still will favor cheap labor markets.

However, shipping finished cars from Asia to here is less efficient than shipping bulk rolls of specialized aluminum and bulk-packaged tires and paint/coatings materials, embedded electronics circuit boards, etc. to a factory closer to the consumer market. Less efficient meaning to mega-corporations, more costly, with that as a corporate measure of efficiency/productivity of human labor. Balance sheet and income statement kinds of stuff.

So, automation gives the U.S. its "salvation" from the predatory labor practices overseas, where our workers cannot compete with near-or-actual slave labor conditions. And it will be welcomed, since the big hit on the unskilled (but still voting) factory labor here has already been imposed, via "rust belt" jobs disappearing and the politicians and corporate spokespersons saying "Cheap labor, it is a market phenomenon we cannot overcome."

Automation comes out smelling like a rose, instead of our seeing luddites throwing wrenches into the machinery in opposition to new ways. And TPP is a promise, not a threat, just as you can believe all the politicians are telling us because they know they are public servants, first and foremost, and not hubris-ridden individuals with sociopathic tendencies.

Well, there is Tom Bakk and there is Paul Ryan and Col. Kline, but ... yeah, we mean on average ...

Supporting links for such a thought experiment are; e.g., here, here, here, here, more Tesla here, here, and here [source of lead image]. Dan Burns has written of a military dimension, actual or hypothetical, regarding the Malacca Straits, here. See also, here. From that basis, introducing military/national security into the stew; here, here, here, here, here, here, and you can

google = Malacca straits TPP
google = self-driving automobiles

for more of what Burns has mentioned, as well as what possibly is civilian spin-off from the nation's unmanned mobile ground based military platforms.

While not saying such a hypothetical automation-centric sequence as noted above is actually at play, (after all it is a secret deal, every which way), does any reader doubt whether it might be?

A parting thought. It likely is possible to manufacture a self-driving, silent snow mobile, indeed the military likely has such a thing in its cold weather arsenal as well as a silent self-driving ATV capability, but do not look for things of that nature to be commercialized given how the Arctic Cat mind-set is set to meet expectations and wishes of the snow mobile and ATV buying public, having tastes as they are.

A separate YouTube video demonstrates Tesla has some routine human labor involvement, i.e., some less skilled manual labor jobs than others. Moreover, the video contrasts a European hand-crafted specialty car's construction; where technician skills are again above past U.S. auto assembly line skill levels. Custom hand-building is a more labor intensive process, and the video does not get into comparative pricing of the finished product of robotic vs. hand made. Being more detailed, this video is longer than the earlier cited WIRED - YouTube item.

So even a robo-centric state of the art factory yields good paying jobs, just fewer than the old ways. And robotics would have been as disruptive to a multiplicity of high paying jobs if directly implemented here a decade ago, but the politics of being able to imply without actually saying, "Blame the Chinese," fits wall street and capitalist corporatism sensibilities better than admitting, "Blame my greed, my insatiable bottom line wealth-and-profit hunger."

That last cited video demonstrates two ways "cheap labor" can be circumvented - robotics or custom production. Otherwise, as with Nike apparel, it is easy to package and ship the product, but labor intensive to fabricate, so that manufacturing of that kind likely will remain in Asia. Until labor prices converge, theirs growing while ours suffer wage inelasticities while the devaluation of the dollar is ongoing, thus trending things towards one another as to price of labor, here or there.

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
A hat tip to the same person who forwarded the email item posted earlier; for sending this "not over yet" link which clarifies procedural nuances and possibilities re TPP - Fast Track in the near future.

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