Far too often the blame is placed upon labor for the decline in the stature of the United States within the global business community. It is far easier for those in a position of power (the business elite) to point the finger of blame at the supposed inadequacies of working Americans than to question their day-to-day activities.
American business has always been short sighted but what was once a focus on the fiscal year has now been constrained to the quarter. Investor's expectations were once in the realm of the reasonable from the standpoint of profit margin and time in which to realize a return in the form of dividends - business is now placed upon a day-by-day march towards the all-crucial quarterly report. With this continual tightening of the expectations (prior to even the realization of a quarterly report) all businesses must be engaged in the relentless spiral of cost cutting and budgeting that has the effect of reducing innovation, risk taking, and de-emphasizing the quality of the product or service produced.
Forethought into product improvements or the development of entirely new products are now ceded to the waste bin in the continual drive toward efficiency enhancements which had better translate into far superior profits than the prior quarter's results. Just maintain and make minor tweaks to the service or product but don't disturb what works or else you may disrupt the must have golden profits.
No longer is the quality of the product or service even remotely essential since all managers of the business from the first line manager all the way up to the CEO have their jobs 'on the line' for producing results in the form of reductions in expenses and increases in profit.
Where all intelligent enough to realize that something doesn't come from nothing, therefore better profits don't just miraculously appear from the ether - they are realized through the constant application of the cost cutting machine. Cut this, cut that, de-emphasize this or that, but keep the eagle eye of determination on what can be cut next. Don't be concerned what effect the continual bloodletting in the form of cuts in workers has on the moral of your labor force which comes to the realization that their just another widget to throw into the cost cutting equation.
No it is not that labor is any less educated or determined to produce a quality product (than our global competitors) but the business structure that has evolved makes this impossible. Remember the economy is not just a simple set of equations that when coupled together in this neat and tidy set of algorithms produces complete comprehension of all who view its glowing orb. The economy is a complex system whereby one single variable may result in a cascade of unpredicted results. For those who know their math just remember the example of the butterfly that flaps its wings and through this simple action is able to disrupt the entire weather system to the point of creating a furious hurricane on the opposite side of the globe.