In "Buying from China" (July 7), you asked, "What does a large manufacturing corporation owe to the employees of the companies that make its parts and components?" You suggested no answer, but you did a pretty fair job of summarizing the dilemma.
The company that has employed me for 25 years is a Tier 3 supplier of plastics materials to the automotive and other industries. I suspect a senior executive of an automaker would express thoughts along these lines:
"If we do not continue to reduce costs by means of Far East sourcing, we will not continue to create the profits necessary to satisfy our shareholders and to fund new product development, which is the key to a viable future."
New product development is one of the keys to staving off further erosion of market share by European or Asian manufacturers.
I suggest that we need a major adjustment in our national approach to business, CEO by CEO, investor by investor, enterprise by enterprise. In order for that to succeed, we must adjust the way we do business with trading partners, even at the risk of creating tension in some of those relationships.
The stakes are high: We risk the failure of major industries. Certainly, our way of life is ultimately at risk. At some point, our national vitality could be sapped beyond our ability to recover and create new industry. Certainly, creation of new wealth through manufacturing is an essential part of that vitality.
You suggest, and rightly so, that our economy and our consumers cannot sustain that vitality as an all "service-based" economy. Nothing could be more true, and I think we had better focus on that as a possible outcome to avoid. If we do not, we risk our children's future.