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October 07, 2012


Tim Worstall

"They're more willing to stand up for their rights, to stand up to injustice"

Of course. As Marx pointed out, once the reserve army of the unemployed is exhausted then conditions for the workers will improve.

And there are indeed many stories out there about labour shortages in China. Which is why wages are rising so strongly. No need for a liberal, neoliberal or even Keynesian explanation: this is just straight classical economics.

sf reader

Count me in as wholeheartedly in favor of the discomfiture of the hipster classes. Go Foxconn workers!

Speaking of the pain of hipsters, here from the bedroom community of Google/Apple/Oracle (the city formerly known as SF) - it recently occurred to me that someone needs to stage a reenactment of the Jerome Robbins Jets/Sharks number between the Mission hipsters and the Marina former-frat boy types, staged in United Nations Plaza.

Trying to figure out how to transliterate the Maria and Tony characters. The tattooed/pierced hipster chicks passive-aggressively making your coffee waaaaaay toooooo sloooooowly are clearly far too tough to be Maria, but they'd make a good crew for the America number, maybe takes place "off-site" at Burning Man? And Maria is a clueless sap in the original, so just keep that, I am supremely confident the Playa has an abundant supply of utter saps, renewed annually.

The mindless violence, tribal loyalty and idiocy of Tony's crew need little to no work to translate to the frat boy element of the Marina, so that's sorted.

If only there were some way to produce this with all proceeds going to the Foxconn strike fund!


I really doubt this does any work. First night sales just aren't a very big proportion of the total, and pretty much by definition a lot of people who run to the Apple Store on day one are going to be disappointed. Which is, from Apple's POV, the point.

One thing the Foxconn workers certainly see is how much capital Apple invests into the iThing supply chain, because it shows up at the plant in big crates marked "Schmidt & Kielowitz Maschinenbau GmbH" or similar. See here for beautiful charts.

Sensibly, rather than destroying it and rendering themselves unemployed, they evidently realise how much just idling it hits the return on all that investment (the grey columns in Horace's charts), with the advantage that going on strike is reversible while smashing the machine tools isn't.

It's also interesting that the quality control people walked out. It sounds like Foxconn is a final-inspection shop, not a total-quality operation, so if QC isn't functioning, all the wheels stand still. A figure of 200 is given for the number of QC inspectors, so they've discovered the smallest number of strikers you need to idle the whole plant, and by extension, the iGadget supply chain.

Also, using Horace's stats, it looks like Apple and Foxconn work under JIT most of the time, but build stocks ahead of important moments like new product launches. So the timing is interesting; did they let the inventory bulge go out and the supply chain tighten before they (literally) struck?


On the theme of machine tools, North Korea awards a medal to a lathe, although only because a Kim once used it.


Here's someone actually bitching about not getting a shiny: https://twitter.com/_DonaldS/status/255707995344863232

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