Monday, February 21, 2011

Oregon Must Win the National Competition for Jobs

Imagine if Obama had delivered the revised speech below last week.  If it sounds silly to hear the president talking about Oregon "winning the national competition for new jobs and industries," that's because it is pretty silly.  But it's equally silly to talk about the county "winning the global competition for new jobs and industries," because it's based on flawed "zero-sum," "fixed pie" thinking, i.e. there's only a fixed number of jobs and for us to "win jobs," some other country has to "lose jobs."  Here it is:

Weekly Address: To Win the Future, America Oregon Must Win the Global National Competition in Education

PORTLAND – In this week’s address, President Obama said that the United States Oregon needs the best trained and best skilled workforce in the world country to win the global national competition for new jobs and industries.  

I’m speaking to you from just outside Portland, Oregon where I’m visiting Intel, a company that helped pioneer the digital age.  I just came from a tour of an assembly line where highly-skilled technicians are building microprocessors that run everything from desktop computers to smartphones.  But these workers aren’t just manufacturing high-tech computer chips.  They’re showing us how America Oregon will win the future.

For decades, Intel has led the world nation in developing new technologies.  But even as global national competition has intensified, this company has invested, built, and hired in America Oregon.  Three-quarters of Intel’s products are made by American Oregonian workers.  And as the company expands operations in Oregon and builds outsources a new plant in to Arizona, it plans to hire another 4,000 people this year.

Companies like Intel are proving that we Oregon can compete – that instead of just being a nation state that buys what’s made overseas in other states, we can make things in America Oregon and sell them around the globe country.  Winning this competition among the states depends on the ingenuity and creativity of our private sector in Oregon – which was on display in my visit today.  But it’s also going to depend on what we do as a nation state to make America Oregon the best place on earth in America to do business.

If we want to win the global national competition for new jobs and industries in Oregon, we’ve got to win the global national competition to educate our people in Oregon.  We’ve got to have the best trained, best skilled workforce in the world country. That’s how we’ll ensure that the next Intel, the next Google, or the next Microsoft is created in America Oregon and hires American Oregonian workers.

The truth is, we have everything we need to compete in Oregon: bold entrepreneurs, bright new ideas, and world-class colleges and universities.  And, most of all, we have young people in Oregon just brimming with promise and ready to help us Oregon succeed.  All we have Oregon has to do is tap that Oregonian potential. That’s the lesson on display at Intel.  And that’s how America Oregon will win the future.

Thank you.


At 2/21/2011 1:08 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Is not the point of competition to determine winners? If there are winners then there are losers, of descending success. Competiton in cpu tech involves innovation to deliver value in cost, reliability, power and forward imbedded performance capabilities.

For some, high-tech competition results in zero-sum because the winner may become the specified industry standard. But the pie is not fixed, and the president may or may not realize this.

Consumers of the world are the real winners, if they have governments that allow access to the products of the winners, based on fair markets and intellectual property rights enforcement.

At 2/21/2011 7:49 PM, Blogger aorod said...

Why not just pass a right to work law..??

At 2/21/2011 9:13 PM, Blogger Michael Hoff said...

He's a twit.

At 2/22/2011 11:01 AM, Blogger TOF said...

I cannot recall any Progressive I have met NOT thinking in exactly the same terms: zero-sum.

At 2/22/2011 12:32 PM, Blogger James Fraasch said...

I fail to understand why you think 50,000 jobs created in China is as good as 50,000 jobs created in the United States.

Elasticity of the location of an American worker is not so elastic. It's actually rather fixed. Unless of course you have some other plan to initiate government funding of relocation of American workers to China.


At 2/22/2011 1:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Obama does have a point: we do compete for jobs and industries. The prevailing wages of our workers, our tax rates, etc., all combine to create an environment that is offered to business. The US is the "supplier", selling such opportunities at a cost. Businesses then "purchase" said opportunities, and the purchase price is reflected in taxes and wages paid. In that sense, there is indeed competition.

The problem is that Obama's zero-sum thinking leads him to commit the fallacy of composition and believe that losses in single industries are losses to the nation. The concepts of specialization and comparative advantage are ignored entirely; and what matters then is not that companies are allowed to shop globally to find the best possible return for their money - that is, the highest possible production for the lowest possible use of resources - but only that they have the jobs here and now. After all, the Chinese can't vote for an American President; so the President had better provide those jobs on local soil! Political motivations once again trump sense. This leads to special favors to local businesses, high tariffs, and the general spread of the crony capitalism that so many correctly loathe, all in the name of saving the country.

The issue of funding education to make America a more attractive climate in which to do business is really a separate point and actually has some merit. Indeed, if America is to be an attractive country in which to invest, it is important that workers in America are able to return good work for their wage, which is tied into proper education. The trick is that, as is covered elsewhere, increasing government funding of education tends to provide ever-decreasing rates of return and is more of a favor to teachers' unions than to the people broadly. (It is also worth noting that if the average American worker regresses in skill to the stone age, wages will adjust appropriately.)

At 2/22/2011 4:42 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Hmm. How things change in only a year.

From lawsuit to lovefest. This from All Things Digital.

"What a difference a year makes. At this time last year, Intel was preparing to defend itself against an antitrust lawsuit brought by Obama’s Federal Trade Commission. A settlement last August brought an end to that. Now Obama and Intel totally heart each other..."

At 2/22/2011 5:00 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

James Fraasch

"I fail to understand why you think 50,000 jobs created in China is as good as 50,000 jobs created in the United States."

Here's an example of how saving on some operations by manufacturing in China, allow a company to spend more and create more jobs in the US.

At 2/22/2011 10:56 PM, Blogger Bill Conerly said...

Mark, what the heck are you doing making a comment about Oregon? I've been an Oregon-based economist since 1984 and I resent competition. I mean, I'm all for fair trade, but your discussion of Oregon is decidedly unfair.

To begin with, you are underpricing Oregon economists. I have to charge a fee for my consulting services. You can provide comments for free, thanks to some kind of subsidy I don't understand. That's totally unfair.

You also have gone to a couple of state universities, whereas my education was at private schools. I presume you were the beneficiary of a bigger subsidy than I was.

The only value that could possibly come from your comments about Oregon is an improvement of public understanding. However, isn't the whole point to benefit producers, such as me, rather consumers, such as your readers?

Go back to comments on Michigan--if there's anyone left there.

With kindest regards,
Bill Conerly


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