US Manufacturing Jobs: Why Economic Development Matters

As indicated in a recent post, the New York Times ran a series about how Apple claimed in could never manufacture its products in the United State.  In his blog at the Foreign Policy website, former Reagan Administration trade representative Clyde Prestowitz has a different take on the matter.

In the 1981-86 period I was one of the U.S. government’s top trade negotiators, especially with Japan. At that time, Apple was trying to crack the Japanese market for personal computers and getting nowhere. Steve Jobs and other Apple executives had the funny notion that the U.S. government had an obligation to help them and asked me and other negotiators at the Commerce Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to help them get on the shelf in Japan. We did all we could and in doing so came to learn that virtually everything Apple had for sale, from the memory chips to the cute pointer mouse, had had its origins in some program wholly or partially supported by U.S. government money.

Nor have things changed that much in the intervening time. Apple’s products still have a large U.S. government R&D content and I’ll bet that the guy who says Apple has no obligation to help Uncle Sam does strongly believe that Uncle Sam has an obligation to stop foreign pirating of Apple’s intellectual property . . . .

Economic developers take note:  one of his major points is that, without active public support for R&D and without government incentives, Apple would never had become the global powerhouse it is today.  Going a bit further, Prestowitz believes that obliges Apple and other corporations to do what they can to make sure the US benefits from their government-subsidized success.  You can read his full post here.

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