30
Oct
10

A lesson in globalism with a local twist

When I moved up here near Portland several months ago I’d heard that it had what they called the “Silicon Forrest.” To the west of Portland is a nest of hight-tech companies including Nike, HP, Intel, Sun and quite an impressive list of others. And, in the last few weeks there has been a lot of excitement from the announcement by Intel that was going to expand its Hillsborough manufacturing and testing plant. Hillsborough is about 5 mi west of where I live.

In this down economy the announcement of an $8 billion plant to support its cutting-edge 22 nm features for processors is fantastic news. So the latest, greatest Intel CPUs will be made here for several years. It’ll mean somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 construction jobs over the next two years and about 1,000 permanent technical jobs. Sweet!

A lot of discontent in the US these days is over how: “our jobs have been shipped overseas!” The local Intel plant runs counter to that trend,  so I was somewhat surprised to see an announcement in my Oregonian this morning that Intel’s CEO, Paul Otellini, was in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, yesterday for a ceremony officially opening a $1 billion plant there. And earlier in the week he cut the ribbon on an Intel manufacturing plant in Dalian, China. Gee, do you remember when we were at war with North Vietnam and regularly bombing the crap out of Ho Chi Minh City? I sure do.

But it’s illustrative of how global commerce works. A lot of Americans seem to think that companies with US headquarters and names that are household words somehow have an obligation to be here and help employ Americans. Nah, that’s not how it works. These are not American corporations; they’re global and they go anywhere in the world to get the lowest labor costs and deals on the rest of what it takes to make their products. If you want to make money in the US invest in Intel stock. They don’t see the world and their purpose in nationalistic terms. A lot of Americans need to adjust their thinking to fit with that reality.

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