Greenspan loved to talk about conundrums.

Let's hope we can do better than he did.

Here's mine:

I can order printed circuit boards ("printed wire boards" for our UK readers) from Advanced Circuits in Aurora Colorado. Shipping by UPS ground from Colorado to South Carolina costs $20 and takes 5 days.

If I order from "Silver Circuits" in Malaysia, the shipping from Malaysia to South Carolina takes 3 days and costs $18.00.

So why is it cheaper to ship from Malaysia than Colorado?

1) The labor costs are lower in Malaysia. -----Wrong, at least in the usual way of thinking.

The only labor intensive part is the big truck driving up my street and the driver waiting at my front door for me to sign the delivery receipt.
That is the same for both Advanced and Silver. At the PCB fabs, the packages are loaded en masse onto the truck, making the labor component
zilch at the senders end.

2) Advanced Circuits is price gouging. ----- possibly correct.

I have not found any good explanation why it costs more to send something 1200 miles than 12,000 miles, so it may be that Advanced charges me $20, pockets $12.00, and pays UPS $8 to carry a small box to me.

I don't see the logic of it. If they wanted higher margins, it would make more sense to raise the price of making the PCB's. Most of the business is repeat customers, who decide based on total costs.

3) Air travel is cheaper when it starts in Malaysia. ---- possibly correct--

Perhaps Malaysian jet mechanics get paid less than USA truck mechanics. Airport fees, insurance, etc. might also be lower in Malaysia.
But there is still the problem that the package still get's to my house by truck, so that #%!!! american worker is still in the picture!