What Your Tennis Shoes and Pigs Might Have in Common Some Day

     I am going to make this as painless as possible but here is something to think about on a cold winter night when you are losing money.

     Capitalism is thought by socialists to inevitably lead to a redistribtution of wealth which is unjust.  Namely, capitalism inevitably leads to a concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few, the owners of capital.  Labor inevitably gets the short end of the stick.  Capitalism cannot survive long-term because it will lead to such an unjust outcome that revolution will displace it.

     In the United States, the development of scale and mass production in the early 1900s is typified in the invention of the assembly line by Henry Ford (OK some dispute he actually invented it but bear with me).  The adoption of scale across many industries led to a tremendous accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few and the beginning of modern day concentration (fewer firms) was under way. 

     According to Marxist economists, the natural uprising of the people to revolt against this was kept at bay because Ford and those like him paid high salaries in response to union bargaining and this created a middle class which fared far better than the typical rural alternatives of the time and quelled the forecasted progression to the unbearable for the labor class.

     Fast forward to a few decades ago.  As the structures were gradually put in place to support a global economy (China opened to western trade, the Internet was developed, trans-oceanic air travel became commonplace and other communication and trading mechanisms came into being etc.), U.S. manufacturing (as well as the manufacturing industries from several developed countries) began moving high cost manufacturing off-shore to countries which had an inexpensive labor force.  This huge savings, the result of cutting off the bloated wage and benefit packages which had accumulated over time in the U.S. and threaten now to end both Ford and GM, fueled the move.  Add to that the relief from accumulated layer upon layer of regulation and bureaucracy compliance cost and you have a powerful incentive which is working itself out right before your very eyes.  http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/02/20/8369111/index.htm.  And if you want to see the Marxist slant on this go here http://www.the-spark.net/csart433.html (a little raised and clenched fist will appear on your browswer tab but don't panic).

     In the United States, we have systematically shipped abroad a very large percentage of manufacturing jobs which do not require high levels of skill in the labor force.  We have tended to keep and actually grow manufacturing which requires a knowledge-based labor force such as bio-tech. 

     The long awaited question now rises for you to consider.  Is swine production a manufacturing business and does it require a knowledge-based labor force?  If you answer that it is manufacturing and it largely requires non-skilled labor, you will have to be wondering if it is going off-shore to places like China, Russia, Brazil and anywhere else where rural labor is cheap and abundant and feed ingredients can be grown.  Sure there are a lot of obstacles to the move such as underdeveloped infrastructure but that was the same problem for other manufactuers until those things were put in place.  Can you foresee container loads of neatly stacked case ready pork steaming across the ocean bound for your dinner plate?  With the right packaging, atmosphere and temperature maintenance, the obstacle to shipping fresh pork world-wide is rapidly diminishing.     

     So in the next 20 years, will hogs follow your tennis shoes to far away places with strange sounding names?  And then return, ready to cook and eat?