Thursday, June 28, 2007


Here’s a fascinating story in the NYT about globalization:An iPod Has Global Value. Ask the (Many) Countries That Make It.”
Who makes the Apple iPod? Here’s a hint: It is not Apple. The company outsources the entire manufacture of the device to a number of Asian enterprises, among them Asustek, Inventec Appliances and Foxconn.
But this list of companies isn’t a satisfactory answer either: They only do final assembly. What about the 451 parts that go into the iPod? Where are they made and by whom?
Three researchers at the University of California, Irvine — Greg Linden, Kenneth L. Kraemer and Jason Dedrick — applied some investigative cost accounting to this question, using a report from Portelligent Inc. that examined all the parts that went into the iPod.
Their study, sponsored by the Sloan Foundation, offers a fascinating illustration of the complexity of the global economy, and how difficult it is to understand that complexity by using only conventional trade statistics.
The retail value of the 30-gigabyte video iPod that the authors examined was $299. The most expensive component in it was the hard drive, which was manufactured by Toshiba and costs about $73. The next most costly components were the display module (about $20), the video/multimedia processor chip ($8) and the controller chip ($5). They estimated that the final assembly, done in China, cost only about $4 a unit.
One approach to tracing supply chain geography might be to attribute the cost of each component to the country of origin of its maker. So $73 of the cost of the iPod would be attributed to Japan since Toshiba is a Japanese company, and the $13 cost of the two chips would be attributed to the United States, since the suppliers, Broadcom and PortalPlayer, are American companies, and so on.
The UC Irvine researchers' analysis, and the methodology they used (which is quite detailed, thoughtful, and extensive) comes to a startling conclusion…at least for those folks who bemoan the exporting of American jobs and advocate “fair trade” policies (I’m looking at you, Mr. Dobbs.). It’s all about the value-add. And we’re very good at that particular piece of business. Best in the world, as a matter of fact.
HA HA HA! Omigawd…excuse me, but…HA HA! Hoo-BOY, this is GOOD!
WASHINGTON - Despite low approval ratings and hard feelings from last year's elections, Democrats and Republicans in the House are reaching out for an approximately $4,400 pay raise that would increase their salaries to almost $170,000.
The annual vote on the pay hike comes on an obscure procedural move — instead of a direct up-or-down vote — and Democratic and GOP leaders each delivered a majority of their members to shut off the move to block the pay hike.
So, we get consensus when it comes to a pay raise, but our esteemed legislators can’t seem to get it together when there’s…uh…legislative work…to be done? Oh, the irony.
A pox on them, their houses, and their offspring.
Marc Lynch of Abu Aardvark poses an interesting question, about which I have absolutely no opinion: “Who'll be the first t'blow?
I've been posing the same question to academic Middle East experts and government officials in a variety of forums lately (seminars, workshops, bars), and thought it might be interesting to throw it open here as well. Given the ever-growing strains and pressures on most Arab regimes, which - if any - will be the first to go? By "go", I mean a real change of regime - King Abdullah (Jordan division) replacing his Prime Minister doesn't count, the Hashemites being toppled does. Also, I mean actually functioning and currently seemingly stable states: so the Lebanese, Palestinian, and Iraqi situations don't count. Finally, I'm talking about Arab countries, so Iran is off the table (unless you really want to talk about Iran). So far, the most popular answer has probably been "none" - Arab regimes are really only good at one thing, staying in power at all costs, and there's a lot of well-merited skepticism that now is any different. But if you had to put money down on one, despite your innate skepticism, who would it be?
I have no opinion because I’m just not that well-versed in the arcane world of Middle Eastern politics. About all I know is neatly summed up by Mr. Lynch’s comment, to wit, “Arab regimes are really only good at one thing, staying in power at all costs.” Still the question IS interesting, if only for the accompanying analysis.
Coulter-Edwards follow-up… The LA Times:
WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Wednesday that conservative author Ann Coulter's attacks on him were hurtful, even as his campaign used her remarks in an appeal for donations.
Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, was responding to Coulter's suggestion that she wished he would be "killed in a terrorist assassination plot." His campaign cited her remarks in two e-mails to supporters for donations.
It was not the first time Coulter had given the Edwards campaign a financial boost. In March, she used the word "faggot" in reference to Edwards, and his campaign used video of the comment to help raise $300,000 before the end of the first quarter.
In the latest e-mails, the campaign asked supporters to send donations to defy her remarks and help Edwards meet his goal of raising $9 million in the second quarter. The first e-mail from campaign advisor Joe Trippi showed a clip of Coulter on ABC's "Good Morning America," where she made the assassination comments Monday.
Yesterday I made the point that Coulter should just shut up, as she’s John Edwards’ best, albeit de facto, fundraiser. Maybe I was missing the longer view. Maybe I should urge Ms. Coulter on. Because, really now, could the GOP ask for a better Democrat nominee than Pretty Boy? Any one of the leading Republican candidates (well, except for McCain, perhaps, but he’s not leading) would wipe the floor with Edwards while simultaneously erasing McGovern’s name from its place of (dis)honor in the Big Book of American Electoral Fiascoes.
Just sayin’.
Today’s Pic: The Well-Equipped Garage. I snapped this pic while at SN1’s place last month. Left to right: the ‘Zuki, Buck’s Kowalski, and my (now Buck’s) Ol’ Yammer-Hammer. This pic gives some perspective on the ‘Zuki’s size. Both the ‘Zuki and the Kowalski are 650s, but the ‘Zuki shares its frame and running gear with its bigger brother: the Suzuki DL-1000. Did I ever tell ya that it’s a BIG bike, Gentle Reader? Oh, I did? Never mind.
Layton, UT. May, 2007.


  1. Reminds me of the photos my dad used to keep of all his cars. Every car he EVER had, there was a picture of it. Plus pictures of every car my mom, brother, sister and I ever had. And my dad never had just one car - the driveway was always full of them. There were quite literarlly STACKS of photos. Sadly, when my mom retired she THREW THEM ALL AWAY! It was sacrilege, it really was. I really had wanted them - envisioned digitizing them and having some fun. Oh well...

  2. See, from where I'm coming from, Edwards' comments and behavior help to substantiate what you were saying earlier. And as to what you're saying now...well, that makes even more sense. Maybe Edwards is secretly a Republican agent, and Coulter is secretly on his payroll.

    "Edwards 2008. Vote for him. Because Ann Coulter said nasty things and made him feel really, really, bad."

  3. Wow, Kris...there's sacrilege, and there's sacrilege! What WAS your Mom thinking?

    Good attitude, though. "Oh well" is about all you can say. Coz you can't disown your MOM, now, can ya?

    Morgan: I agree. I find it amazing that Edwards' constituency can't see through his blatant fund-raising ploy. But then again, folks who sign on to any form of class warfare rhetoric ain't the sharpest tools in the shed. That, and they're looking for someone to blame for their shortcomings in life.

    Are you gonna print those bumper stickers? I'll buy one...


  4. You might be interested in Ann's take on the whole thing. Hot off the presses.

  5. Ya know, about a month ago I said to my darling hubby that I hope Edward's gets his party's nomination. He looked at me like I had committed treason and said, "WHY!?". And I said, because it would be an easy victory for the Republicans. And you could see the realization spread over his face as he thought, "ya know, my wife ain't such a dumb blonde/housewife afterall!". LOL!

    Myself and the kids were in P-town today. Thought about driving by your neck of the woods, but then you would probably be outside enjoying a drink and cigar and think I was stalking or something. I also had groceries, so I came on home instead. It would probably have freaked my husband out if I decided to meet "a man I met on the Internet". LOL!

  6. Morgan said: You might be interested in Ann's take on the whole thing. Hot off the presses.

    That was interesting, indeed. While I'm still firm in my dislike for Coulter (and everyone else who uses her tactics, more or less), one has to admire the way she can squeeze a thousand words worth of meaning into a single paragraph, to wit:

    I'm a little tired of losers trying to raise campaign cash or TV ratings off of my coattails, particularly when they use their afflictions or bereavement schedules to try to silence the opposition. From now on, I'm attacking only serious presidential candidates, like Dennis Kucinich.

    Genius, that.

    Jenny: Well, I probably wasn't outside enjoying an adult beverage and a cigar at the exact time you had in mind, I did have a couple of brewskis and that cigar not but a half-hour ago. Not that that should ever stop you if you have the notion of popping by in the future...


  7. Dang, I want a brewski at Buck's. I'm so jealous. I'll skip the cigar though.

  8. Buck - my mom was never happy with the amount of money my dad spent on the cars. Throwing away all the photos was her way of cleansing herself from all the memories unfortunately. She did it 9 years after my dad passed away. Believe me, took me a long time to get over that.


Just be polite... that's all I ask.