Mr. China Thinks of Becoming Mr. America

By James Fallows

Our new issue is out. (Say it with me: give the best gift of all, a combined print-and-online subscription!). Although I've worked for the magazine for a very long time, I make a point of not looking at in-process versions of the articles or the ever-shifting story lineup but instead reading each new issue as it arrives. That lets me react in real time as other readers would -- and to be freshly enthusiastic (most of the time) rather than jaded about what it contains.

This new issue contains a lot in the freshly enthusiastic category, but if you're looking for a guiltily easy way in, I will suggest James Parker's column on the alarming end-times genius that is Daniel Tosh. Parker's reaction to the tosh.o spectacle is very similar to mine, so naturally I think his column makes good sense. You should look for it on page 36 of the print issue. OK, I'll add a link down below. I'll point out some other stories as the month goes on.

I also have an article in this issue, describing a set of simultaneous complex changes (a) in China's economic, workplace, and social situation, (b) in America's economic, workplace, and social situation, and (c) in the manufacturing, design, and distribution technology that connects the U.S. and the international (especially Chinese). The surprising upshot is that after decades in which "new phase in the globalized economy" essentially meant "new problems for American workers," several of the trends are moving in favor of US-based manufacturing. Charles Fishman has an accompanying article on some of the larger international forces pushing in the same direction.

We've also put up a video, based on photos I've taken in Chinese factories starting six-plus years ago and as recently as last month, plus "real" photos by professional photographers. It gives you a brief look-and-feel introduction to the trends I'm talking about -- and the man, Liam Casey, whom I jokingly gave the title of "Mr. China" in a cover story five years ago and who is directly involved in many of these changes. He's just now opening an office in San Francisco as an aid to US-based manufacturing startups. ("Mr. China," by the way, is a longstanding, informal, usually half-jokey honorific, similar to People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" title. Jokes aside, right now Casey is as good a contender as any for the title.) 

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