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Why America Doesn't Need More Tech Giants Like Apple

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-the-other-fruits-are-trademarked dept.

Businesses 631

Hugh Pickens writes "Optimists says that if only America produced more companies like Apple and Amazon and Google and Facebook, the country's economic problems would be fixed — America could retrain its vast, idle construction-and-manufacturing workforce, and our unemployment and inequality problems would be solved. But Apple's $1 billion new data center in North Carolina has been a disappointing development for many residents, who can't comprehend how expensive facilities stretching across hundreds of acres can create only 50 new jobs, especially after thousands of positions in the region have been lost to cheaper foreign competition. In fact, Apple actually exemplifies some of the reasons why the U.S. has such huge unemployment and inequality problems: 'Digital' businesses like Apple employ far fewer people than traditional manufacturing businesses, Apple's 60,000+ jobs are not just in the U.S. — they're spread around the world. Companies like Apple 'create amazing products and vast shareholder wealth, but they don't spread this wealth around as much as earlier industrial giants did,' writes Henry Blodget. 'So, yes, we should celebrate the success of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon. But we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking they're going to solve our unemployment or inequality problems.'"

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Americans (-1, Flamebait)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213006)

Apple's $1 billion new data center in North Carolina has been a disappointing development for many residents, who can't comprehend how expensive facilities stretching across hundreds of acres can create only 50 new jobs

There it is. Proof of how wise Americans really are!

How about if people crying about "there are no jobs for me" would either make new products or services people want or improve themselves to be more useful to employers? But nooo, now they're crying how no one is giving money for what they think they want to do.

I learned this very skill in my teen years. You need to be useful to others to be successful yourself. It applies to work, woman and everything. Everyone is selfish and looking for their own good, in a way or another. Either with money, self-improvement, confidence, skills or experiences. Behind every action every human ever does is a selfish though. Leverage that knowledge, be useful and via that, make yourself successful.

'Digital' businesses like Apple employ far fewer people than traditional manufacturing businesses, Apple's 60,000+ jobs are not just in the U.S. — they're spread around the world.

Maybe that comes from the fact that Asians are not as lazy and against "stupid jobs" (when they are in fact the most useful ones) as Americans?

Re:Americans (5, Informative)

diersing (679767) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213064)

Who hurt you man, why so jaded?

Maybe that comes from the fact that Asians are not as lazy and against "stupid jobs" (when they are in fact the most useful ones) as Americans?

A quick google search reveals the average manufacturing job in China pays $134 per month. It has little to do with laziness or stupid jobs, its simple economics.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213194)

Why is this one marked as "flamebait?" The previous poster does sound extremely bitter and jaded. Wrong too. There are plenty of people who are out of work or underemployed, despite the fact that they have useful job skills. Besides, especially since we're talking about Apple and I don't think everyone has forgotten about Foxconn, "stupid jobs" might be referring to ones that make you suicidal.

Re:Americans (5, Informative)

SimplyGeek (1969734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213312)

The Foxconn suicide scare has been disproven. Given their large workforce, they're going to have suicides. When taken against the national average, it's actually lower.

But no; everyone just looks at absolute numbers and not relative numbers.

Re:Americans (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213422)

There is a difference between people being naturally suicidal, and people who feel it would be better to kill themselves, rather than go to a job that is so bad, they really would prefer to be dead. I've had the idle thought that due to things like leaks and corporate security, those Foxconn employees were killed for trying to sell secrets to others and were caught by security.

Re:Americans (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213538)

Did they compare the rate to people with similar jobs? Any population is going to have the random people who just pop and decide to end it. But lots of suicides are based on circumstances. Even if the Foxconn suicides are at a similar rate, they might not be distributed the same way. If 25% of the suicides in the population as a whole are because people can't find work, then you have to correct those cases out when comparing to people who DO have work.

Re:Americans (5, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213406)

Who hurt you man, why so jaded?

Maybe that comes from the fact that Asians are not as lazy and against "stupid jobs" (when they are in fact the most useful ones) as Americans?

A quick google search reveals the average manufacturing job in China pays $134 per month. It has little to do with laziness or stupid jobs, its simple economics.

Exactly. People are so quick to comment on "lazy" Americans, and yet fail to realize that unless you're willing to bring manufacturing to the US and increase the price of everything at least 300%, manufacturing will likely stay in parts of the world where it can be done the cheapest. Even if you found a willing worker, you'd be hard-pressed to survive anywhere in the US on $134 per month.

Nike shoes (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213540)

Nike Premium Shoes. Cost to make £4 materials $6 labour. Sale price (USA) $200.

Now how much more does labour cost in the USA than China? Tenfold increase? That'd be a $260 trainer, then. Or £60 less profit.

Re:Americans (3, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213416)

Maybe with a not so quick Google search there is different data that comes up? [averagesalarysurvey.com]

Career Entries Gross (USD) Average Gross Salary Average Net Salary
General Manager 8 $93,657 595,656 CNY 447,625 CNY
Director 5 $88,050 560,000 CNY 446,000 CNY
IT Manager 8 $69,055 439,187 CNY 348,081 CNY
Manager 7 $59,973 381,428 CNY 300,285 CNY
IT Project Manager 6 $51,834 329,666 CNY 252,666 CNY
Human Resources Manager 6 $43,606 277,333 CNY 209,166 CNY
Architect 6 $35,901 228,333 CNY 181,736 CNY
Manufacturing 11 $32,547 207,000 CNY 176,529 CNY
Engineering Manager 6 $32,128 204,333 CNY 167,500 CNY
Marketing Manager 7 $31,706 201,651 CNY 158,366 CNY
Sales Manager 8 $31,184 198,330 CNY 170,486 CNY
Software Engineer 6 $27,004 171,746 CNY 135,659 CNY
Mechanical Engineer 6 $24,552 156,150 CNY 113,333 CNY
Accountant 5 $18,624 118,450 CNY 86,800 CNY
University Professor 5 $18,006 114,515 CNY 101,800 CNY
Manufacturing Assembly Worker 5 $13,774 87,600 CNY 74,000 CNY

Re:Americans (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213190)

let's see how smart the chinese will be once we pollute their country and people start dying of cancer, birth defects and other diseases

americans learned not to pollute decades ago

Re:Americans (0, Troll)

hjf (703092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213268)

Dude are you a troll or just retarded? America is the only country that DIDN'T sign the Kyoto protocol, because it wasn't economically convenient for them.

Re:Americans (1, Informative)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213410)

I think throwing words like "retarded" makes it hard to understand how someone else is a troll. There are plenty of countries that didn't sign the Kyoto protocol besides the US. The US just happens to be the most industrialized of those. This doesn't count the countries that get a free pass under Kyoto since it wasn't economically convenient for them.

Re:Americans (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213446)

you're a moron

30 years ago we had ozone and smog over our cities. manufacturers would dump their trash into our rivers and pollute our food supply in the process. i would look at manhattan and see a brownish smog cloud. there are still parts of NYC that are polluted from decades of manufacturing and uninhabitable due to all the chemicals in there. Jet Blue and Whole Foods had to spend tens of millions of $$$ in order to build on some of these polluted lands.

CO2 is bull sh1t compared to the pollution we had decades ago

Re:Americans (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213482)

What diseases and cancers does the pollution addresses by the Kyoto protocol cause?

None? So how is that applicable to the point in the slightest?

Yes, Those Lazy Unwise Americans (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213192)

Maybe that comes from the fact that Asians are not as lazy and against "stupid jobs" (when they are in fact the most useful ones) as Americans?

So many citations needed here. Okay so you say "the fact" and I'm asking you where you get your "facts."

You say that Asians have this awesome work ethic and will do all the dirty work? How do you prove that? If you go by GDP per capita, I think the US is doing alright comparatively [wikipedia.org] .

Could you please prove that Americans are against "stupid jobs?" I used to pick rock, bail hay, bus tables, work at a parking booth, etc. Now I code computers. There's my pitiful sample set of "one" please send me your numbers that prove it is applicable to all Americans. I think a lot of Americans working in the middle of nowhere get overlooked by people like you.

When you say "(when they are in fact the most useful ones)" I question how objective the superlative "most useful" is here. The factory worker, the quality control worker, the designer, the investors, etc. They all have a use. Which is "most useful" is totally a matter of opinion. The question I have for you is, do you think that Apple would just stop making iPhones if they were suddenly not allowed to import them from China? I highly doubt it.

I challenge you to grow up and to stop relying on tired stereotypes.

It applies to work, woman and everything. Everyone is selfish and looking for their own good, in a way or another.

So what you're saying is that you've learned that there is no place for love or satisfaction of a job well done? Just money? I'm really really sad you find yourself in that position ... keep manipulating your wife based on her greed. You know what else Americans are good at? Divorce [divorcerate.org] .

Re:Yes, Those Lazy Unwise Americans (0, Troll)

hjf (703092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213316)

I challenge you to, also, look at the bad things of your Great Beloved Country, and not get blinded by stupid statistics and knee-jerk reacting to an internet post. You know you're not the greatest, nicest, bestest, and and other "est" country in the world. I challenge you to accept that not everything is as wonderful as you just put it.

Re:Yes, Those Lazy Unwise Americans (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213564)

He didn't "put it" any way at all, besides disproving the points the original poster made.

It takes only one white crow to disprove that all of them are black. He did just that. With no word did he say that everything was peachy in the US.

Re:Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213216)

you are trolling again, aren't you ? Please go back to 4chan.

Re:Americans (4, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213306)

How about if people crying about "there are no jobs for me" would either make new products or services people want or improve themselves to be more useful to employers? But nooo, now they're crying how no one is giving money for what they think they want to do.

Actually, the people Google sent be interviewed for the one article did just that, but unlike you, they recognize that asking a 50 year old guy who's been working in Furniture manufacturing to learn computers so he can get a new job is pretty futile. Most companies won't hire him because he's too old with too little experience.

It becomes an interesting question of what percentile of people do we allow to become permanently unemployed. Is it the bottom 10%? 20%? And what do we do with the least useful people? Do we give them enough money to survive or do we do as the Libertarians suggest and let them die from the crime of not being useful enough?

The point of the article is that the U.S. would need more Apples than it could possibly sustain to fix it's employment problems. The U.S. needs to have some manufacturing jobs because there a lot of people who are more suited to that work than to other jobs. This might seem like a problem of not adapting, but it's just a problem of numbers. Why would anyone want to hire someone from the bottom 50% of applicants for any job? The way to deal with this is to have a robust and diversified field of employers. The U.S. has failed to protect most of it's manufacturing industry from MBA idiocy that considers a hiring a Chinese company to do work inherently superior to employing Americans.

Statutes against such age discriminazis (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213392)

Most companies won't hire him because he's too old

Such companies that hire an inexperienced young person but don't hire an equally inexperienced older person may find themselves in violation of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 [dol.gov] or foreign counterparts.

Re:Statutes against such age discriminazis (1)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213456)

Dammit - accidentally modded you funny.
Stupid mouse.
Posting to cancel.

Re:Statutes against such age discriminazis (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213584)

And you actually believe that companies don't discriminate out of fear of breaking that law? They do it all the time. The wonders of marginalization at work.

Re:Americans (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213350)

How about if people crying about "there are no jobs for me" would either make new products or services people want or improve themselves to be more useful to employers? But nooo, now they're crying how no one is giving money for what they think they want to do.

I think you are missing the bigger picture. As technologies improve, employers and owners will need fewer and fewer people. That's what being more efficient and productive means - fewer people to pay $$$$ to. Where the humans are cheaper, the Owners will use humans. But if the tech keeps improving there may be a point where most humans become uncompetitive, and redundant.

You can give as much training as you like to a dog, but it's not going to be able to write decent software and/or create robots. The same goes for most humans.

AND even if you can improve, they'd still only need 50 people for that data center. And each data center can serve millions of customers.

Of course they may run low on customers since more and more customers have no jobs, but if robot technology improves to the point where robotic sentries and armies are good enough, the 1-2% ultra wealthy who own everything would have no need of customers. There's no need for all that if they own all the robotic factories, all the mines and farms, and have the armies to protect their assets. They may decide to instead keep worshippers, pets and "slaves", along with a few "tech priests" and "security robot" commanders (e.g. champion starcraft players).

That won't happen as long as voters still have say over stuff AND vote for leaders who won't herd them towards such a future.

But from what I see, most voters aren't very bright. Most voters might actually be convinced that going down the free market, low/no regulation path with a small/weak government is a good idea. In such a path, capital and power will concentrate to organizations and people do not have to answer to voters at all (unlike an elected government which at worst has to _pretend_ to listen to the voters).

Re:Americans (1, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213366)

'Digital' businesses like Apple employ far fewer people than traditional manufacturing businesses, Apple's 60,000+ jobs are not just in the U.S. — they're spread around the world.

Maybe that comes from the fact that Asians are not as lazy and against "stupid jobs" (when they are in fact the most useful ones) as Americans?

Perhaps.

However, Americans also would not pay $700 for an iPod either, but that's likely how much it would cost if it were manufactured in the US. Kind of a double-edged sword here that's been going on for a long time. Create more US manufacturing and triple the costs(or more)...or continue to fabricate it overseas to appease the Wal-Mart price point masses. Choose.

"Triple the costs" (5, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213492)

This is nonsense. Labor is typically quite a small part of the cost of electronic products. (In fact, before the rise of China automated assembly was doing very well, but Chinese labor undercut it and the products were redesigned for manual assembly. I actually costed one product line that had been largely automated and discovered that hand assembly in China cost almost exactly the same. But the company owners regarded "manufacturing in China" as some kind of dick-swinging club that they aspired to join. Yet products could easily be redesigned for automation again.)

You underestimate how little money companies are prepared to save by betraying their countries.

Re:Americans (4, Insightful)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213514)

Take away the patents and innovation will sprout once again. The small startups simply don't have the deep pockets required to defend against the private monopolies riding on patents.

Patents divide us. Free ideas unite us.

Need (4, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213008)

What we need is small, independent, companies competing directly in the same way Linux distros compete with each other. That will encourage innovation.

Re:Need (5, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213108)

What we need is small, independent, companies competing directly in the same way Linux distros compete with each other.

Aggressive flamewars on slashdot and mailing lists? I'm not seeing that work.

Re:Need (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213120)

And, it should be pointed out, we have that - there are thousands of small tech businesses in all sorts of fields.

What happens, of course, is that some of them start building up successes, and then the vulture capitalists get involved, and then the business press goes gaga over them, and then there's a headline IPO, and then they aren't small tech businesses anymore. That's what happened to Microsoft, to Apple, to Google, and to Facebook. And if you are the founder of one of these thousands of small tech businesses, and you had the opportunity to take this kind of ride and make millions, would you really not take it?

Re:Need (5, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213386)

Indeed. It's something of an oddity these days that there are so many tech companies that, instead of growing larger, are instead being bought out. That is to say, the game now is to build a company that gets bought out in (say) 5 years, not one that will last 200 years.

Re:Need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213454)

What you fail to see is the next stage in the sequence whereby numerous employees of said megacorp leave to start their own small consultancies. I work for Big Blue and I have personally witnessed dozens of people leave to go solo once they've built up the skills to do so or join another small company started and completely populated by ex-IBMers. Sure the vast majority of employees are lifers (unless and until the company decides otherwise), but its not all or nothing as you see it.

Re:Need (4, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213494)

It's another form of the lottery, pro-sports, famous actor/actress syndrome. Everybody sees it, everybody wants it, reality is that only a very very few can actually get it - if everybody got it, it wouldn't be desirable anymore.

Thousands of small businesses, or small business units of larger corporations, toil away toward the brass ring while only a few ever even come close to reaching it.

Just like the OWS 99% problem, the brass rings need to be more numerous and less shiny. The serfs (working poor, small businesses, etc.) are going to stop trying for them when it becomes apparent that they'll die before they ever get there.

Re:Need (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213124)

So, the whole point of "competition" is to eliminate competitors.

If you want a bunch of small independent companies competing against each other, that means you want one company to win and gain a monopoly position.

Re:Need (2, Informative)

LoyalOpposition (168041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213460)

So, the whole point of "competition" is to eliminate competitors.

No, the point of competition is to sell your goods or services for less than it costs you to supply them. Eliminating a competitor can make that easier to do, because it's one way to increase your price without increasing your costs. However, there's a limit to how effective that can be so long as barriers to entry are low. You must keep your price low enough that it wouldn't profit a potential competitor to enter your market.

~Loyal

Re:Need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213512)

No, the whole point of competition is to do better than competitor. Elimination isn't the goal. You can argue with that, but only for trolling purpose...

Re:Need (1)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213198)

Too much infighting and duplicated effort?

Re:Need (3, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213310)

Yes. I mean, if your goal is keeping a lot of people busy, efficiency is the one thing you don't want.

If two distros have their own people working on packages, then that's twice as many people being employed as if there was just one.

Re:Need (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213484)

Perhaps. Too much spying and intellectual incest will result in far too similar solutions. Which is duplicated effort.

Re:Need (3, Insightful)

Targon (17348) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213228)

What we need is for the entire patent system to be thrown out since only the big companies have enough patents to be ALLOWED to innovate without fear of a lawsuit crushing their company out of existence. That is the REAL problem, where if you come up with an idea for a $5 product that would sell millions of units, yet you need to pay $50 per unit worth of legal fees to protect yourself from lawsuits.

Apple is a PERFECT example of this, where they will start lawsuits over their so-called intellectual property that was clearly a copy of some other product that came out in the 1980s or even earlier. I've had some great ideas for products, but know that the big companies would just steal my ideas, then if/when it went to court, it would be 10 years later, at which time the idea would seem obvious, even though it was innovative at the time of invention.

So, we need companies to be allowed to compete, without fear of being shut down. Linux doesn't have lawsuits between distributions, which is why it is a great example of competition, but that doesn't apply to the corporate for-profit world.

Re:Need (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213530)

Actually, I favor the creation of patent firms with lower fees and larger volumes. The $10,000 it costs for a small entity to successfully prosecute a patent is quite expensive for most start-ups, especially when you may be filing for dozens of them.

Law firms, like the courtroom, are a few of the places desperately in need of a little programming attention. The problem, of course, is maintaining quality of work, while keeping the lawyers happy. If you're an associate, you're already doing too many hours, and if you're a partner (let alone a senior partner), you're probably past the point of doing volume work (you've paid your dues).

Re:Need (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213352)

You can't just mandate "small, independent, companies competing directly." They must develop because market forces allow them to, or you end up with a Solyndra.

What we 'need' here is a closer look at the market itself, to see what is interfering (if anything) with normal market operations. We need to verify that the market is actually functioning nominally. Chances are, if there is a lot of money, but very few players, something is going on. Perhaps the barrier to entry to the market has become obstructed. Perhaps the barrier to exit the market, in the event of failure, is too high. Perhaps some laws favor larger companies at the expense of smaller ones ("pay to play").

Whatever the case, an objective analysis, with no givens, is needed to understand what we do know, and what we don't know here.

I DUNNO !! WHY ?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213016)

You asked !!

I don't see the problem (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213054)

Why won't APPLE build 100,000 new data centers ?

Re:I don't see the problem (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213114)

There's a limit to how much gay porn you need. Even for Apple.

Re:I don't see the problem (2)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213258)

One data center per town* in the US!

*A town must have at least 50 employable residents to qualify for an Apple Data Center.

Time for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213084)

#Occupy Apple

Surprised we haven't seen it already.

Re:Time for... (4, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213102)

Actually, we did back in October. That was also called the line for the iPhone 4S,. . . ;-)

small vs. large businesses (5, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213092)

It is interesting how many people seem to see big businesses and major corporations. They have huge advertising budgets, and thanks to that, you see their logo EVERYWHERE. And they do employ a lot of people, at home and abroad, and support the development of great products (be they actual tangible products like the iPhone or Kindle, or more of a service, like Facebook. That being said, the backbone of any modern economy still lies in small businesses. And the big ones do support the little guys. Look at Apple's App Store, for example. Of the thousands of apps on there, how many of those apps were created and marketed by a small company of less than 100-200 people (or even how many apps were put out by a one-man-shop)? Remember also, that many of these big corporate giants started as small businesses -- Apple and HP both started in a garage in silicon valley.

Re:small vs. large businesses (3, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213130)

Most small businesses are support business for large business. It is absolutely the case in the US that their is mobility between businesses, small businesses grow and large business often shrink. However this can take quite a bit of time and really doesn't change the fact that big business is the ultimate engine.

Re:small vs. large businesses (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213262)

Apple and HP both started in a garage in silicon valley.

And HP has recently announced they're moving back to their garage.

Re:small vs. large businesses (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213346)

The problem is that at the time those businesses got started, they were not in danger of lawsuits shutting them down the way things are today. Could you even come up with a new computer program without tripping over some software patent that is so obscure, no one would know about it?

Re:small vs. large businesses (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213552)

Apple and HP both started in a garage in silicon valley.

and, how many silicon valley garage shops flopped since HP started? On balance, HP has probably made more money than all those flops lost, but I bet the balance is closer than you think.

I would rather live in a world where thousands (more) of smaller Apple/HPs can successfully launch from garages per decade, in exchange for reducing some of the outrageous success that the big companies enjoy today.

Makes no sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213104)

economic problems would be fixed

How would that stop the metastasis of government into all areas of life AND stop the central bank devaluing every dollar whilst bidding prices up with money made from thin air?

Jobs aren't the only effect (5, Insightful)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213106)

Those 50 jobs aren't the only benefits that came out of the data center.

If it costs $1billion to build that data center, then that's $1billion added to the economy, affecting a lot more people than 50 direct employees.

(How many people did it take to actually construct the place? to handle permits for construction? To deliver food for people that handle permits? To handle mail to deliver food to the people that handle permits for construction, etc..)

Jobs created don't provide the overall picture of an economic effect. Actual spending does.

Re:Jobs aren't the only effect (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213278)

Short term vs Long term.... Construction of the Data center was a short term gain in employment for the region. In the long term, only 50 jobs were added, the point being, a manufacturing facility would employ more people for a longer time. A much smaller manufacturing facility, with a much smaller land and resource footprint, say 1/4 the total area, employing 100 employees, would have been a much bigger LONG TERM gain for the area.

Re:Jobs aren't the only effect (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213322)

The big problem is that you are talking about two very different things. You have the need for long-term jobs, and you have the need for short-term/temp jobs. Construction is a dangerous area to talk about, because for those who have a career in the construction industry, you need to have new contracts that come in so you have work AFTER each project is complete. This means you need to have a sustained environment of growth, or at least building(tearing down and then re-building would work too). So, if the building of that data center was the ONLY big project in that area going on, and nothing follows, the construction people will be back to looking for work and doing poorly.

If people have jobs, and they can spend money on other local businesses, that helps. The big problem is you need more than 50 new jobs to make a properly sustainable environment. So, 50 people have jobs....will they all shop at the same stores, live one or more towns away? It is far better for a local economy to have 5000 jobs that pay $20,000/year each than 2500 jobs that pay $40,000/year each, just because there are that many more people who spend money locally. Those who make more than $100,000/year tend to be more interested in keeping their money invested, or looking for ways to make more money than they are about spending on the local level, so you also see a gradual decline in how well money gets distributed locally as the rate of pay goes up. Even those who put their money into a 401K, while it is a good idea, that is money that isn't being spent, and the economy needs more people to be spending.

Re:Jobs aren't the only effect (2)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213332)

You're looking at the wrong thing.

Yeah, 1 billion might be a big number. But that number is much smaller than the total that would result from 1000
  small datacenters that would provide the same capacity. Building a huge datacenter saves money, and needs fewer people to run. That's why they build things like that in the first place.

Re:Jobs aren't the only effect (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213378)

The spending you're referring to is one time, not sustained and while a one off might provide a more accurate picture of an economic 'effect' it doesn't pain a more accurate picture of the economic 'situation' over time.

On top of that how much of that $1billion do you think was actually spent on products made inside the US?

Re:Jobs aren't the only effect (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213520)

$1 billion wasn't added to the economy. $1 billion was transferred to other companies and the government.

Re:Jobs aren't the only effect (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213544)

Yes, but it's probably close to election year, and the incumbents need some good economic news to keep themselves in office.

In other news, unrest in the middle east!

Re:Jobs aren't the only effect (2)

hjf (703092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213566)

Now take all you just said and multiply it for, say, 500 people of a car factory. A value-added product, that transforms raw materials into a car. The $1B data center doesn't take any raw materials, its sole purpose is to deliver Angry Birds to your iPhone.

But hey! If it makes you better to think that a huge capital investment of $1B is better than probably $1B operating cost over 3 years for a factory that actually sells products for export (and has an expected life of 10-20 years until a complete overhaul), then yes, by all means, kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

The whole point of the OP was to show that unmanned data centers are NOT what the economy needs, but real, tangible (gasp) JOBS!

Americans just don't realize it. The convenience of a digital world will likely destroy the American Dream. How many people lost their jobs in the music CD industry because of iTunes? I'm not talking about copyright. I talk about people in brick and mortar stores. People in the CD production lines, the people that manufactured stuff.

How about books? How many people are already losing their jobs (Borders?), and all the printers, delivery trucks, etc.

Is that good or bad? I don't know. All I see is that while you could have a decent living in the USA with just a high school diploma, newer generations will have to compete. All of them will be required university-level degrees, because jobs will become more and more technical and specialized. If you were a CD press operator, your son will probably need to be a CD press designer (or not, cause there won't be CD presses, but you get the idea).

Don't believe me? You don't have to. But you just look at App Store and Android Market: HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of developers jumping into the Digital Gold Fever. App stores are just a bubble waiting to burst: such a saturated market simply cannot exist. It's like the 90s internet bubble - everyone became a millionaire with the internet, now everyone wants to become a millionaire with apps. Developers will soon realize that they can't compete with the giants like angry birds and hobby guys giving away their work. The self-regulated app store model (where a popular app is pushed higher in the popularity list simply because it's popular, and new apps don't even get a chance) is terrible. The only winner is Apple.

Diehard Digital age fans defend this by claiming that "there have been changes like this throughout the whole history of mankind". And that's fine - but the point is, RIGHT NOW, there is no visible economical alternatives to the "traditional" manufacturing model (software developing is manufacturing too).

50 jobs (3, Insightful)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213122)

who can't comprehend how expensive facilities stretching across hundreds of acres can create only 50 new jobs

Yup! Its amazing that the whole project was actually completed with only 50 local people... who now have posh jobs running the place. Actually, it would have taken far less people, but curious onlookers kept getting too close to the packed ACME Instant Data Center (tm), so Apple had to hire 49 more people to make sure the crowd stood back while a single drop of water was added to the ACME package and it expanded instantly into the glorious data center that stands there today.

Re:50 jobs (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213586)

who can't comprehend how expensive facilities stretching across hundreds of acres can create only 50 new jobs

Yup! Its amazing that the whole project was actually completed with only 50 local people... who now have posh jobs running the place. Actually, it would have taken far less people, but curious onlookers kept getting too close to the packed ACME Instant Data Center (tm), so Apple had to hire 49 more people to make sure the crowd stood back while a single drop of water was added to the ACME package and it expanded instantly into the glorious data center that stands there today.

Yup, and now that the $1B construction job is done, do we just ship the construction workers off to "somewhere else"?

Marx (-1, Offtopic)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213126)

And socialism.

Maybe Not (1)

glorybe (946151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213164)

One way or another those that have wealth are forced to invest. Inflation and taxation will eat a large fortune that is not invested. Often huge business end up owning strip malls that employ a lot of people or they invest in companies that produce hard goods. One issue is that those labor providing investments are not made in the US. Investors seem to have few issues with slave labor or starvation wages in non- advanced nations. America could criminalise the investment in companies that use child labor, starvation wage labor or conscripted labor over seas. Yes, the idea is to put bad people out of business and into jails and lives of poverty. Show the rich that the fast lane to poverty is the bad treatment of people, anywhere.

Not spreading the wealth around? (2)

imamac (1083405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213166)

Seriously? Buy stock. Wealth spreads to owners. It's that simple.

Re:Not spreading the wealth around? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213256)

Buy stock.

But there is a hole in my bucket, dear Liza.

Re:Not spreading the wealth around? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213292)

That only works when you have the money to buy stock with, which implies a job and enough disposable income to do so.

Re:Not spreading the wealth around? (4, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213384)

Even worse for many companies like Apple you have to actually sell the stock to realize any benefits from it, because Apple doesn't pay dividends. So unless you have a lot of money, you can only be a temporary owner and hope that you can stay an owner until other people want to be an owner more than you do.

Re:Not spreading the wealth around? (3, Insightful)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213442)

How much stock do you have to own before it generates enough revenue to actually live on (never mind getting rich on)?
What are the currently unemployed and / or in debt going to buy that stock with?
How many companies / governments with excellent ratings have tanked, taking the investor's money with them?
How much of that investment then goes towards exorbitant executive pay?

Most people don't want to gamble on making a living. They want to work and make a living.

Traditional Manufacturing Businesses (4, Interesting)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213172)

Even the "Traditional Manufacturing Businesses" aren't employing as many people as before. It all comes down to automation. If you do something routine, simple, and repetitive, you can and will be replaced by a machine.

Re:Traditional Manufacturing Businesses (1, Funny)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213272)

That's the truth. Why, you can just look at the success of replacing women in certain simple and repetitive actions [realdoll.com] (NSFW)

Welcome to the future (5, Insightful)

pesho (843750) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213178)

All the talk of how manufacturing will create jobs is just that, talk. In case you haven't noticed modern day manufacturing is automated to a very high degree and requires a lot fewer people to do the job. Robots kill jobs not only in manufacturing, but in pretty much every other employment field. Even scientific research is affected heavily by this and requires fewer people to do the same job. In one week I can do experiments that 5 years ago would have taken 10 people a full year to perform. With such throughput it isn't necessary even to formulate a hypothesis. You just test every possible variation and let the data speak for itself. Machines are more consistent than people, don't get tired, if the make mistakes the mistakes are systematic and easy to troubleshoot. Oh and recently even advanced robots have become very affordable (way cheaper than hiring humans). It is the 19th century industrial revolution all over again but this time it is affecting everybody, except politicians. Although I suspect lying can also be automated. Now this rises the problem what to do when 30-50% of working age adults become unemployed. I can imagine how this will work in the much hated in the US 'welfare states', but the US society itself is in a lot of trouble the way it is set now.

Re:Welcome to the future (1)

wedontneednobadges (856106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213314)

Indeed! [irobot.com]

Re:Welcome to the future (1)

tucara (812321) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213334)

Even scientific research is affected heavily by this and requires fewer people to do the same job. In one week I can do experiments that 5 years ago would have taken 10 people a full year to perform. With such throughput it isn't necessary even to formulate a hypothesis. You just test every possible variation and let the data speak for itself.

You use the word science, I don't think it means what you think it means.

Re:Welcome to the future (4, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213542)

It's more or less how it is done now in large-scale pharma research. Any idea for a plausible lead compound? Nah, we don't need no stinking ideas. We have that fancy combinatorial chemistry which let's us build huge-arse substance libraries, mostly automated, which we then throw on cell cultures, mostly automated, too. Get some Chinese post-docs on time-limited contracts to do some data mining on the results, and here we go. We are indeed in the process of automating away research scientist jobs.

Re:Welcome to the future (2)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213590)

I can imagine how this will work in the much hated in the US 'welfare states', but the US society itself is in a lot of trouble the way it is set now.

You don't think "'welfare states'" will be in trouble if 30-50% of working age adults become unemployed? (Note, "welfare states" is not the term I'd use; I'm quoting the previous poster.)

America is not a country (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213180)

It's a continent. Thank you and good night!

Re:America is not a country (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213582)

Meh. In common parlance, when one speaks of Americans, they are typically referring to citizens of the United States of America; calling them thus, or USAsians, doesn't really roll off the tongue, so Americans is chosen to simplify things.

tldr; Americans is fine for the country.

who is deciding what is 'needed' here exactly? (1, Offtopic)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213206)

The markets have decided that iPhones and iPads sell really well, that's all there is to it. Whether there is a "need" for companies similar to Apple - it's up to the markets to decide.

However with every more the governments make sure that there will be no small competition to the large established businesses in any industry. Be it the food and drug industries, be it telcos or utilities (water/gas/sewer/roads/transportation/energy), be it entertainment, be it military, be it MS or Oracle or Apple or Google whatever.

The government implicitly that it wants only the large companies, that's why the interest rates for borrowing are pushed down, so no small business can get those loans and the credit is only available to the ever growing and ever and all consuming government.

The patent and copyright laws, the licensing by all these departments like SEC, FINRA, FDA, FCC, whatever. Everything is done so that there will be no competition.

Try and start your own investment business today, go ahead. Start it from scratch. If you are not already wealthy (like a millionaire), you won't even move past the first hurdles of licensing across all states and you CANNOT ADVERTISE your success, it's illegal in the investment business, it's a direct help to the established businesses.

Don't forget the added costs of things like the Patriot act, where you must be an unpaid spy for the IRS and CIA and FBI, spying on your own clients.

Try and start your own store chain. Try and cut through all the red tape of all the licensing and all the labor regulations. Good luck.

Sure, you can start a software company, your own 'Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net' from your house. Try and sell some of your software though, it's a tossup. You are probably going to be attacked by armies of lawyers based on anything, from patents to copyrights, it doesn't have to be true, but if you become successful enough, they'll "buy you out". [videosift.com]

Same problem.. (1, Insightful)

greywire (78262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213214)

The problem here is the same thing that is effecting all our decisions. We look at the top 1% (people, companies, whatever) and get angry because they have everything, and then look at the bottom 1% and get angry because they have nothing and think one must cause the other. And we completely overlook the middle.

Its the middle thats important. Because from there you can fall to the bottom too easily. Only from there can you typically rise to the top. The middle is the backbone. As mentioned already, that $1 billion spent on Apple's data center employed thousands of people directly and indirectly for at least a period of time. And those people and companies are probably all from the middle.

You can argue that our economic system is broken (or flawed by design) but so is our society. We pay attention only to the top and bottom and ignore the middle. We have brains and brawn but no backbone. We have the tools but no wisdom to use them correctly.

JR (1)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213226)

The US needs companies like JR and JP. They employ lots of people who seem to do nothing.

50 too many (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213236)

One Jobs was far more than enough. The damage 50 would do is unfathomable.

Why Politicians Love Data Centers (5, Insightful)

miller60 (554835) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213254)

Data centers have always created very few jobs due to the high level of automation in these facilities. As a result, they don't appear to be a compelling candidate for economic development incentives, which have traditionally been all about job creation. But there's a political component to this. Data centers represent far more than jobs or bricks & mortar. They have become symbols of the new economy, a tangible sign that a community is making a successful transition to the digital economy. Governors and local legislators understand the value of a press conference to announce a new project from Google, Facebook or Apple. That's why North Carolina has hit the data center trifecta [datacenterknowledge.com] with projects for all three of those companies, and continues to offer aggressive incentives for new projects. We've been tracking this trend for years, and there are more states than ever before offering incentives for data centers. That competition will intensify as the Internet continues to transform our economy, and ensure that tax incentives for data center projects are here to stay.

We already know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213270)

Apple's Jobs is dead.

It makes sense if you think of it (2)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213282)

Large companies at first look seem to employ a lot of people. But the amount of people they employ is much smaller than you'd expect.

If a small company needs a sysadmin, accountant and receptionist, then that's 3 people that are employed. If there are 3 such companies, then each needs their own, so that's 9 people employed.

But what if they merge? All those people are probably not working at their limit at the new company. The sysadmin that managed 10 servers probably can manage 30. The new company is not so huge as to have more than one door, so only one receptionist is needed. The accountant can handle a bit more work. And so it's quite likely that 6 people will be laid off.

If the objective is creating jobs then what you want is creating inefficiency: lots of small companies that employ people below their full capacity. Large companies are experts at employing as few people as possible. If there's one thing that would be counterproductive towards that goal, it's them.

I've been saying this for YEARS! (5, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213290)

Municipalities and state governments are MORONS. There is not one reason to spend a single cent of tax incentives on a data center. They hear "Google", "Apple", "Facebook", and they have visions of hundreds of highly-paid software engineers sitting in row upon row of cubicles, and then going home to their brand-new houses, spending all their millions in local stores, etc.

Not even the companies themselves promise much in the way of jobs, but the governments aren't paying attention.

If you have finite electrical generating and grid capacity, it's far better to lure in SOME kind of manufacturing facility (they do still exist) then a data center that will book a huge portion of the output while employing a tiny handful of people that really don't get paid that much.

Inequality is not a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213294)

Inequality is only a problem if you are a communist.

Re:Inequality is not a problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213438)

or if you're poor

Re:Inequality is not a problem (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213580)

Would you rather be a poor person in the United States, or a poor person in Ethiopia?

If you pick the US then clearly income inequality isn't the problem.

Wages as percentage of GDP peaked in 1972 (5, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213300)

Increased automation was supposed to bring more leisure time and higher pay --- instead it's been used to prop up corporate profits:

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1345 [cbpp.org]

I want a politician to stand up and demand a shorter work week --- force companies to either hire more workers or pay more overtime.

Tech giants want to offshore/inshore all jobs (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213336)

No way Americans can compete against 3rd world wages. Software development is probably the easiest thing in the world to offshore - you don't even have to ship products. Less than 25% of IBM employees were born in the USA.

Not related to unemployment (4, Insightful)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213338)

"In fact, Apple actually exemplifies some of the reasons why the U.S. has such huge unemployment and inequality problems: 'Digital' businesses like Apple employ far fewer people than traditional manufacturing businesses" That's quite a reach, to say Apple only needs X people, therefore this is a contributing factor to unemployment and inequality.

Two related ideas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213360)

I've heard a simple statement that captures much of the problem, "People have to be willing to pay more at Walmart". If they want stuff made in the US, or more correctly the tax base that underlies such things, they have to pay for it. They can do it implicitly or explicitly, via 1930's style economic protectionism. Granted, that stuff didn't turn out too well back then, but if people want their government benefits they're going to have to pony up their share for them. Unless the tax base is maintained, the benefits have to go down.

You cant build bridges anymore? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213370)

Bridge Comes to San Francisco With a Made-in-China Label [nytimes.com]

Im no us citizen, but I wonder if it really is more economical in the long run to outsource everything to china.

Buy Local (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213396)

If you want to create jobs buy items made as close to you as possible.

Big companies won't tell you this because it will hit their profit margin
Government won't tell you this because they are lead by big companies and are restricted by trade agreements.

But this is what has to be done. As long as you are buying stuff made in China/Korea/Mexico Companies will continue to ship your jobs overseas. Buy local, sure you'll pay more but the person that got hired now has money to buy the stuff that you are making.

This is not rocket science. Made in means you are providing emplyment for someone who is keeping you employed!

What about those 500,000 apps? (1)

npuzzle (1875242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38213400)

It's arguable that Apple as a business might not directly create as many jobs as a traditional manufacturing business; however, Apple certainly fosters the creation of "collateral" jobs with myriads of developers working night and day to produce iOS apps. As of today, Apple has approved more than 500,000 of them (source [washingtonpost.com] ).

Will this lead to shorter work weeks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213444)

If there's simply not as much work to go around, perhaps this will actually lead to the decline of the American work week.

How could we set up a system that supports twice as many people working half as long?

Same experience in my home town (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213468)

Facebook is currently building a datacenter in my home town. Everyone I know mentions it to me "Apply so you can move back" They're surprised when I mention how few people the massive facility will staff.

the problem is not unemployment... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38213534)

the problem is not unemployment, it's employment. it's good to see machines doing all the work so we have to work less and less so we can focus on the fun things in life - the only problem is that the profit stays in the hand of fews instead of benefitting the people in a whole.
we can have better and better lifes and escape wage slavery with the help of the machines, but as always we're doing it wrong and let the thieves take the big piece of the cake. :(

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