For someone who touts himself as a paragon of capitalism, Donald Trump seems all too willing to trample on the free market whenever it suits his needs. During a speech at Liberty University in Virginia on Monday, he promised to “get Apple to build their damn computers in this country instead of other countries,” in the event that he won the election, which doesn’t make any sense, for a number of reasons. The reason that’s easiest to spot is the fact that the President doesn’t have the authority to make a decision like that, but the biggest issue with his promise is the fact that it’ll take a hell of a lot more than a few words and signed papers in order to bring America’s consumer electronics manufacturing capabilities to the same level as Asia’s.
GOP candidate and angry sweet potato Donald Trump claims he’ll be able to change Apple’s entire manufacturing system if he is elected president. I’ll give Trump this: He’s great at shouting impossible nonsense. Trump’s remarks on outsourcing at Liberty University today were especially bizarre and unanchored to reality. First, in the span of a few sentences, he insisted that he’d impose a 35 percent tax on businesses producing goods overseas while claiming to support free trade. At the end of his rambling, decidedly non-MLK-themed speech, he said this: “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers in this country instead of other countries.” An all-American Apple sure sounds nice—it would create jobs, it would help ensure that the factory workers have decent working conditions. It’s also an empty applause line. The US president does not have the power to ban a company from outsourcing, nor does the president have the power to completely overhaul the global economy. Sure, Trump could advocate for legislation designed to prevent outsourcing. But he would have to champion laws that would fundamentally alter free trade to make it financially advantageous for Apple to upend its manufacturing and supply chain. Apple outsources because it maximizes profit, but that is not the only reason. Asia’s electronics supply chains are much larger than what the US has to offer. Not only would Trump have to come up with a way to penalize Apple for outsourcing so harshly that it’d make sense to change its manufacturing model—he’d also have to help US manufacturing catch up to China so that Apple could feasibly begin production here.