Are we witnessing a resurgence of American manufacturing?
The New York Times seems to think so, based on the fact that Starbucks has placed a new order with the American Mug and Stein Company in East Liverpool, Ohio.
American Mug and Stein uses much the same manufacturing techniques it did 90 years ago, relying on molds and casting, finishing and glazing that are done by hand.
The factory, where the temperature stays at 90 degrees to ensure the products dry properly, feels Dickensian. Shards of broken pottery and clay dust are piled on the floors, and products are pulled by employees along a monorail to various stations in the four-story factory.
And then there’s Ulrich Honighausen, the owner of a tableware company, Hausenware, in Sonoma County, California, which supplies retailers like Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn and Fred Meyer with ceramics and glassware from producers all over the world:
“I was surprised I got into this town without a passport,” Mr. Honighausen said. “It looked like a third-world country.”
Maybe that’s what employers have in mind as the ticket to American competitiveness, to drive down wages and working conditions until once again they resemble those of a Third World country.