Should We Outsource CRC to China?

by lewwaters

I can hear what you’re thinking already. Lew are going out of your mind? Have you gone completely off your rocker?

No, I haven’t nor do I actually think we should outsource anything more to China than we already do. But, I do ask the question for a reason.

China as we know is rapidly becoming the world’s preeminent manufacturer, manufacturing sections for the Bay Bridge in California and contracting infrastructure projects in some other larger American cities. We in America are bellyaching about our jobs going overseas to countries like China, but they continue to operate at a much lower expense we cannot match. We cannot even come close to matching their low costs.

Few infrastructure projects point out that fact more than does the Bay Bridge project I mentioned and our own Columbia River Crossing.

The Bay Bridge Eastern Span being replaced is some 1400 feet in length and is costing around $7.2 Billion to construct.

The CRC, including a new bridge, light rail and freeway improvements on both sides of the river is about 3 to 4 miles in length and last I heard, conservatively estimated to cost us $4.6 Billion, with cost overruns very likely.

So how is it that China recently built and just opened 26.4 mile Qingdao Haiwan Bridge between the port of Qingdao and the industrial suburb of Huangdao at a cost of $1.5 to $2 Billion?

The length of this bridge in China is slightly wider than the English Channel! A marathon could be run on it by just crossing it. You can’t even see the other end if you stood at either end of it.

It is said they built it in 4 years with 10,000 workers and was completed for less than $2 Billion!

Granted, Chinese workers are paid far, far less than American workers, especially union workers, but they are working and undermining manufacturing all over the world.

The American worker led the Industrial Revolution and built this country from sparse prairies to major cities. We established a living standard higher than the world has ever seen and the envy of many.

But it appears to be slipping away from us as we pack on bureaucratic and environmental regulations that all too often have more to do with “feel good” than actually protecting anything.

We have union bosses that convince workers they deserve more and more, miring them in a vicious circle of ever rising prices and taxes to pay for increased wages and benefits.

China currently has a 4.1% unemployment rate while in America we have a 9.1% unemployment rate.

China touts the world’s largest labor union, although controlled by their Communist Government and is currently seeing mounting labor unrest as their workers are beginning to demand more as did America’s labor unions years ago.

Still, the built the world’s longest sea bridge in just 4 years.

How many years does the CRC estimate it will take for our bridge replacement?

I don’t advocate paying our workers as little as the Chinese workers receive, as low as $200 a month, working six or seven days a week currently, but slightly increasing.

But America, we better come up with a plan to be competitive again, to stop borrowing money from China and to stop outsourcing our manufacturing to them.

If we don’t soon, we may end up being poorly paid Chinese workers ourselves in the future.

13 Comments to “Should We Outsource CRC to China?”

  1. Lew; America used to be what China is now – a developing nation with a cheap, ambitious workforce and big aspirations. We are no longer in that cycle, and nobody is willing to go back. It’s China’s time now, then India, then somebody else after that.

    Now it’s important to find our own sustainable equilibrium.

  2. I disagree that it’s China’s time now and we cannot recover that cheap, ambitious workforce and big aspirations. We could if we wanted to.

    That’s my point too, too many don’t want to.

    Without some sort of manufacturing, what does anyone have to offer to others?

    The more dependent we are upon others, the less likely it is we will ever find that sustainable equilibrium you mention.

  3. Lew, you’re right – too many don’t want to. America was established by ambitious young people leaving their homelands and coming to America to make a new life. Only a fraction of the people who lived in those lands came here – the rest stayed because they were unambitious. Now America grows its own unambitious people. You can’t MAKE them ambitious. America was in the right place at the right time… And now China is.

  4. You’re right about the country being built by the ambitious.

    But, making others ambitious isn’t really what is needed. Making them productive would be.

    Too many have discovered the loop holes in our safety net and take advantage of it to not be productive.

    Too many believe they are entitled to what others have built in their lifetimes.

    Basically, it’s a prime example of why socialism always fails.

    Sad part is, bureaucrats promote such attitudes to keep their paychecks coming in.

    China is taking advantage now, but they too are facing unrest as workers are already demanding more through unions. It will be years before it destroys them.

    Funny on their labor unrest is that they are a Communist nation, supposedly founded on workers rights against the big businesses.

    But there, the big business is mostly government as are much of the unions.

  5. Once again the crux of this discussion is an ideological difference. I just don’t believe there is any way to go back to how it was before – if we even wanted to – or if how we think it was really was…

    America is not in decline – it is in transition. I won’t argue unions, or socialism, or laziness, because those are simply ingredients of what America will be, along with earnestness, optimism, and willingness to explore new things. If our leaders can manage the negatives while making hay with the positives – that’s all I’m asking for.

  6. There may not be a way to go back, but America would be a lot better off if it could, and took heed of the lesson learned and mistakes made along the way from *there* to *here*…

  7. Yes, we have ideological differences and yes America is in transition.

    Part of our ideological difference is your looking to our leaders while I’d prefer entrepreneurs and business.

    I know you too realize it will take private sector business, but I guess we disagree on just how much business vs how much government.

    So far, I haven’t seen any real leadership or managing from either political party.

  8. Lew; the fact that this country is not in a depression RIGHT NOW is because Bush did what he had to when the market crashed and Obama put us on a glide path. That was pretty good crisis management followed by real leadership.

    You are right to fear the large number of public employees and people’s sense of entitlement… But that’s not the root of the problem you’re worried about in this thread. China will be a Superpower.

  9. I don’t know if Bush did what he had to or not, Martin. I’m still wondering just who it was making the run on our money markets.

    The timing of that has always been very suspicious to me.

    It has all of the earmarks of being set-up deliberately just before a major election.

    Obama has not really helped things out much either. If anything, it’s temporary as we are just way too deep in debt.

    Personally, I believe China is already a super power and will rapidly bypass us while we sit around and argue on how much to borrow from them next time.

    We cannot stop China nor should we. But, we have to compete, at least in side our own country.

    What Fred said is correct. We do have to go back at least some. If we aren’t producing anything desirable to others, what have we to earn on?

  10. Great discuss & food for thought.

  11. I’m sorry Martin, the “stimuluses” and “bailouts” haven’t done a thing to help the Economy. Bush got sucked into pushing for bailouts and Obama and the Democrats in Congress continued the raping of the treasury in spades.

    You can directly hang the blame for the current Economy on the Democrats and you can directly blame the current economic stagnation on the Democrats and the RINO Republicans as well.

    Government doesn’t produce anything, it only gets in the way of the people taking care of themselves by imposing stupid “regulations” and it extorts much of the income of the nation in the process.

    The only solution is to drastically reduce government and encourage ambitious people to create businesses and manufacturing enterprises.

    If we don’t do that, America will become a third-world nation. It’s that simple.

    Government is the “answer” too absolutely nothing.

  12. Lew, I can see one thing that stands in the way of China becoming the manufacturing “leader” of the world, and it is quite “racist” – the oriental mindset and culture doesn’t easily lend itself to “creative innovation”.

    America has always been the leader of “creative innovation” simply because of the way our nation and culture are constructed. We are way ahead of other cultures just because our personal freedom has allowed our creativity to flourish amongst a great many of our citizens.

    This is something that will take the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Russians centuries to master if they ever do, and is the one thing that can quickly bring America back to it’s position of world leader.

    All we need to do is get our government out of the way.

  13. Lew,

    One thing that I have been saying to my own friends, family and connections is this and hear the quote it in some form:

    “Never assume in the 21st century economy that you cannot be canned, replaced or removed at any moment from head of state to the lowly farm picker. With how the world works and how we run our nation, NO ONE is safe or guaranteed any thing.”

    (I change this comment up for contextual reasons, but this is the general point I am trying to say.)

    So remember folks, if the chinese, russians or any other nations figures a way to beat us in some major way, niche or ?, it won’t take them long to overcome us, unless we continue to whine and dine in our current state of failure. Step up, step out, get off your assets, stop watching the idiot lamp/box for your whole life.

    We need you as a citizen! Even if it means you can talk to a classroom of children sitting in a wheelchair and telling us who you are or share with us how we could improve things.

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