Most people, if they know anything about the local food movement, have some gut instinct that it is good for their community, and can provide tremendous advantages by enhancing their overall economic and environmental well being.
As a former worker in the dot com boom and bust world that was Silicon Valley in the 90’s, I saw an incredible move to outsource and offshore manufacturing capabilities, resulting in slow but drastic changes to the Bay area economy. This trend also brought about other changes to the workforce, such as the mass exodus of customer service and support centers, software development and engineering capabilities.
One would have expected to see radically lower prices for American consumers, but this was not the case. Any major Silicon Valley company would like to say that any potential savings that could have been passed on to the consumer were instead “eaten up” by the fact that their competitors were also on the same quest for cheaper labor, and more business friendly geopolitical locales.
It is the nature of any business in a capitalist system to continually seek lowers prices for raw materials, labor, and such. In our time, we are witness to the effects of this effort. The so called global economy is in reality just a hymnbook for corporate America to go fluttering about, taking advantage of places like China, India, and others. And it will never end. Perhaps someday, they may even swing back around to America, once we are making less than folks in China. Hey, that’s just the way the game is played.
But perhaps somewhere out there, in that vast basin of greed we call Silicon Valley, one company might begin to buck this trend. They might decide to manufacture locally, for local consumption. Sure, they would have the same capabilities in China, but they would be used to supply Chinese consumers. Suddenly, people could actually afford to live and thrive in their own communities.
And I think the best single company to take the lead is Apple. So, Mr. Jobs, if you ever read this, do something really great. Stop thinking like a guy who sells iPhones and Macs for the highest possible profit, and start thinking about communities.