"The Tech Rep" by James Michener, Continued
"I have heard the fanciful argument that it is the tech rep who enables the United States to live well. That is, there are literally thousands of American businesses which do better than break even on their sales to customers in the United States. Their degree of profit is determined by how much they sell abroad. And they cannot sell abroad unless they provide technically trained experts who will keep the product in working condition.
Let's take a look at these ideas one at a time. A refrigerator company I know-or it could be an automobile manufacture or a firm making comminication devices- has a market in the United States for a hundred thousand units. But because of the competition, costs of materials and wage scales, the company cannot make a penny on a production this small. Therefore, at very little extra cost in overhead planning, and at reduced costs for raw materials and labor, it makes up a second hundred thousand and disposes of them abroad. Suddenly the operation becomes profitable and everyone is better off-the American consumer, the American working man, the American shipping company, the American investor and the foreign consumer, who get a good product for one tenth of what he would have to pay if someone tried to provide it locally.
forget the fact that in order to enable the foreigner to buy the refrigerator, we gave him the money through foreign aid. A man or a nation must do something with its money. And besides, ninety cents out of every dollar comes right back to us-so who's losing? I think you would be astonished if you knew how many things you buy are made possible because the profit in their manufacture has been insured by sales abroad."
to be continued:
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