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Flintstones Legislation in a Growingly Jetsons World

Happy Wednesday, dear readers!

You know, in observing the “gig” or “sharing” economy, your humble blogger is noticing a pattern: legislation and regulation that is too old is trying, but failing, to understand new and advanced technology and methods which were designed with an eye to solving the problems of the old ways of doing things.

It’s like the Flintstones drafting legislation to govern how the Jetsons are going to feed their shiny dinosaurs. jetsons flintstones

But, keeping this in mind, I ran across two interesting stories I’d like to share with you today.  The first is from the New York Times, with a study by the Economic Policy Institute.  A study of Walmart’s 2013 activity suggests that the $49 billion spent by Walmart for imported goods from China “displaced over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013.”  That means that Walmart was prepared to suffer the delays in over-seas manufacturing and transportation, as well as the cost of the transportation over sea and ground, rather than pay the wages, taxes, and costs or regulatory compliance in the United States.

If this study is to be believed, that’s probably 400k manufacturing jobs that the United States forfeited to China, although there’s no guarantee that any of them would have been in California.

In the face of this story, you have another — Adidas is planning to start shifting its production from China and other Asian countries to Europe.  How?  By opening an almost entirely robotic factory to manufacture shoes.  No more labor costs, or dealing with the costs and delays of international manufacturing.  There would, presumably, be less concern of copy-factories being set up across the street and making knock-off shoes.

Adidas is claiming this new factory is going to be in addition to rather than instead of Asian production, but, realistically, if this factory proves itself cheaper and more efficient than overseas production, why wouldn’t Adidas start manufacturing everything local to the markets that demand their goods.

If these and similar stories are an indication of things to come, the news is both good and bad for Californians, depending on who you ask.  The good thing is that manufacturing may soon return to California – money will be spent and re-spent locally, instead of being sent overseas.  But while the manufacturing might return, the manufacturing jobs probably wont.  There will be highly skilled engineer and programmer jobs, sure, but a lot of the traditional jobs might disappear.

But, what changes slower than the market? The law.  The law that exists specifically to address issues in these industries that might vanish will stay on the books for years to come.  California would do well to start the process of change now, and welcome new industries into the state.

I know, I know, the Flintstones of the world are thinking “Rock hard.  Rock good. Me like rock. Rock legal standard.”  But the time is quickly approaching for that kind of thinking to follow the dinosaurs into the movies, and to give way to the Jetsons and the Jetsons way of life:

“The slave driver! Imaging putting you back on a four day week.  What does he think this is? The 20th Century?”

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