NYT reporters don’t seem to have access to the same facts as NYT columnist Paul Krugman, maybe because he doesn’t have an intranet connection to the newsroom. I’m kidding, but who knows? On Friday, Krugman lit into Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for misleadingly referring to Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, as a job creator, even though Apple employs only 43,000 people in the U.S. while indirectly employing 700,000 people in other countries.
Yes, the Times did report those figures in a piece that helped explain why Apple does so much work in totalitarian China — the Chinese government subsidizes huge manufacturing centers with reliable supply chains and ultra-cheap labor — and so little in the U.S.
However, a more thorough investigative piece would have put Chinese manufacturing efficiency in perspective by including the sometimes startling information in Krugman’s Friday column:
…Germany remains a highly successful exporter even with workers who cost, on average, $44 an hour — much more than the average cost of American workers. And this success has a lot to do with the support its small and medium-sized companies — the famed Mittelstand — provide to each other via shared suppliers and the maintenance of a skilled work force.
The point is that successful companies — or, at any rate, companies that make a large contribution to a nation’s economy — don’t exist in isolation. Prosperity depends on the synergy between companies, on the cluster, not the individual entrepreneur.
But the current Republican worldview has no room for such considerations. From the G.O.P.’s perspective, it’s all about the heroic entrepreneur, the John Galt, I mean Steve Jobs-type “job creator” who showers benefits on the rest of us and who must, of course, be rewarded with tax rates lower than those paid by many middle-class workers…
I think Krugman’s larger, implicit point is that American corporations do what they do — off-shore millions of jobs while being treated to gigantic tax breaks — only because our corrupt political system allows them to do so. We could be Germany, a democracy with strong unions, good wages and universal health care, if we had laws that reined in the Ayn Rand disciples who sell out American workers but are portrayed as heroes by the American media.