Near the end of last night’s presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley asked President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney a common question: How do you convince companies like Apple to bring manufacturing back to America?
Unfortunately, both candidates flubbed their answers, AllThingsD’s Arik Hesseldahl argues. Romney simply talked about Chinese currency manipulation and intellectual property stealing. Obama correctly admitted that certain low-skill jobs are unlikely to return to our shores, but got off track.
Is there a right answer? Hesseldahl gives a full, time-limit free and non-partisan response. Assembling iPhones and iPads is the final, low-skill step of a complex process, he says. The Chinese economy is better equipped for this type of work. The future of American manufacturing should be focused on jobs that pay high wages and require highly-skilled, educated workers. Americans are already employed in the earlier stages of iPad and iPhone production; the devices’ microprocessors are made in the U.S., as well as the shatter-resistant glass of the iPad. Furthermore, Apple’s design and development happens in America, along with the hugely expanding mobile app industry. We’re unlikely to see an American Foxconn plant anytime soon, but the alternative is probably a lot more techonomic.