Well protectionism is alive and well in these United States. This time its the nice folks at the US International Trade Commission. They have "tentatively" decided that South Korea is competing unfairly against US DRAM manufacturers (like Micron Tech). The problem centers around South Korean government "subsidies" to Samsung and Hynix Semi. We'll skip the part about glass-houses and such, and jump to the real-issue: "playing fair".
Often in trade disputes between governments somebody is being accused of not "playing fair". The unfair play usually takes the form of tariffs or subsidies to industry. "Our guys" are affected because the subsidies over there allow their competitors to sell products for less, possibly forcing lay-offs in the good-ole-US-of-A. While it sounds that the other guy is behaving badly are they really?
The customers (numerically far more than manufacturers) are not complaining, they can buy parts for their products cheaper. The customers' customers are not complaining (the retailers), they can sell products for less. The customers' customers' customers (that's you and me, or is it I) are not complaining because, hey, its so cheap. The benefit of lower prices more than off sets the problems for local manufacturers that compete against the subsidies.
The only ones complaining are the businesses that have to compete against these subsidized competitors. But the one who really should be complaining is the South Korean citizen, it is his taxes that are being spent to give US consumers a discount. Let me be the first to say, Thank you. Thank you for lowering the prices of cell-phones, digital cameras, mp3 players, and hundreds of other products.
While I feel for the smart folks at Micron and their investors, the simple fact is that there are no guarantees in life. If they cannot compete against foreigners without running to Uncle Sam for help, they better get out of that business cause the writing is on the wall. Once upon a time the US had a really big textile industry, today despite ridiculous tariffs the textile industry in the US is tiny (when was the last time your shirts were not made in China, Philippines, etc). It seems the DRAM business is going the way of the sweat shop, and there is nothing Uncle Sam can do about it.
It would be just fine with me if all the countries in the world (expect the US) subsidized their businesses. We could all be driving foreign cars that cost $10,000. Nice four door cars, with air bags and walnut interiors, not "2-door-specks". Wearing the finest silk and cotton at Walmart prices. Europeans would be traveling to the states to go shopping (of course they do that already). Perhaps one day.