The late show

When the banks hit hard times, members of all the parliamentary parties decided that the recovery of the nation would be better left in the hands of the folks in the manufacturing industries.

So they put on an extensive show of support, taking any opportunity to convince large numbers of the public how important investment in such companies would be to create a new prosperity within their country.

Most folks who still worked in manufacturing were well aware, however, that a lot of the more traditional industries had long since headed for pastures anew, and they were frankly rather bemused at the late show of support from the parliamentarians.

But with the banks going deeper into debt, the politicians kept pounding home their message of hope ever louder as the day of the election approached. They realised that getting people back into work in manufacturing after the bank-led recession would clearly be one obvious vote-winning strategy.

However, despite their new-found enthusiasm for all things manufacturing, the politicians did recognise that many overseas manufacturers had an enormous advantage over their European counterparts – mostly because they paid their workforce a lot less.

So in their infinite wisdom, they decided to create substantial financial assistance programmes that would enable the manufacturers to automate their production environments, a process that they believed would enable the industries to compete with those wily folks from India and China.

A few companies did accept the government grants and tried to rejuvenate their manufacturing lines. But there were many that did not. The ones that didn’t realised that even with the most sophisticated automation equipment installed in their facilities, the price they would need to pay to maintain it would still outweigh the cost of farming the work out to low-paid manual workers overseas.

When the people’s representatives realised what was going on, they were forced to put a new spin on their industrialisation strategy.

So, in the run-up to the election, they asked the electorate to imagine a world in the near future in which, through their diligence and hard work, the workers in the overseas counties had finally achieved a standard of living that was comparable to their own, earning, and spending, comparable amounts of money.

Once that happened, the politicians argued, all the global manufacturing industries would again be on a level playing field and the role of European manufacturers would become vital to supply those new wealthy nations with technology and expertise, as well as high-end products that they did not manufacture themselves.

Unfortunately, once again, their arguments were flawed.

Because not only did it take 20 years for the folks in those nascent industrial nations to achieve a standard of living equal to their European counterparts, when they finally did, the companies there had built up enough expertise to design and manufacture the very same high-end products that the European parliamentarians had once claimed would be the salvation of their economies.

Dave Wilson
Editor, Engineeringtalk

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