December 03, 2010



Hello, Vietnam!
by Jim Hightower

Several of America's top high-tech giants are now breaking with conventional thinking on the offshoring of their factories and jobs, asking a heretofore unthinkable question: "Who needs China?"

"Let's invest in new, state-of-the-art-factories," they declare excitedly. "We'll launch a bold new initiative to train tens of thousands of teachers who, in turn, will educate the high-tech workforce of the future, generating a wave of jobs and making our American corporations the most competitive in the world!"

Wow, what vision, what a boost to America's middle class possibilities!

Uh... America? Who said anything about the USA? No, no —  the high-tech powerhouses are not decamping from China to reinvest in our country, but to shift their production to Vietnam. It seems that the millionaire chieftains of Silicon Valley now deem the price of low-wage workers in China to be too high, and their wandering eyes have settled on Vietnam, where the per capita income is less than half that of the Chinese people.

Thus, on October 29, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, stood in a packed auditorium in Ho Chi Minh City and hollered out: "Hello, Vietnam." He was there for the dedication of Intel's sparkling, billion-dollar chip factory, which has a clean room the size of five football fields and employs 4,000 workers. Also, Intel is trying to realign Vietnam's educational system to be more corporate friendly, pouring money into the training of 87,000 teachers.

Hewlett-Packard is another world wanderer moving to Vietnam, having built a facility there for outsourcing its software engineering work. Wouldn't it be nice, in these times of middle-class decline in America, if the high-tech honchos who benefit so lavishly from our country were to move more of their investments and jobs here?

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Copyright 2010 by Jim Hightower & Associates
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