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Here’s a TV-watching tip for the upcoming holiday – and No, it’s not the college football championship games. Catch or stream the 2012 Will Ferrell comedy “The Campaign.” And it’s not mainly because I’m a big Will Ferrell fan. Rather, the film deals with the idea of manufacturing insourcing in an especially funny way. In fact, make that “two funny ways” – only one of which the scriptwriters seems aware of.

The Campaign” is about a Congressional race in a small-town North Carolina district between the worthless – though sort of lovable – gadabout of an incumbent (Ferrell). and a humble, endearingly wholesome political novice unwittingly fronting for ruthless tycoons. The puppet is played perfectly, touchingly old-fashioned sense of honor and all, by (get this) Zach Galifianakis. Special casting bonus for fans of the near-classic “Trading Places”:  Dan Aykroyd, whose arrogant young financier character in that 1983 feature was chewed up and spit out on a bet by his bosses, the nefarious Duke brothers, plays one of the equally villainous “Motch Brothers” in “The Campaign.”

I’m betraying no momentous secret by revealing that the climax involves the challenger indignantly refusing to go along with the Motches’ plan for the district. But the scheme itself was striking (at least for a policy wonk) and creative: The moguls need a pliable Congressman to help them buy up huge tracts of land, build factories on them, and then sell them for a ginormous profit to a Chinese manufacturer. He, in turn, would staff them not with the locals, but with 50-cent-an-hour workers shipped in from the PRC. As the Motches proudly announce, “We call the concept ‘insourcing.’”

The writers obviously viewed the term as a simple pun that would elicit laughs from an audience by-then largely familiar with the term “outsourcing.” They also seem to have known that insourcing (along with “reshoring”) was a term that had begun to be used by analysts who believed that the United States was on the verge of an historic manufacturing renaissance. Production and jobs would increasingly be brought home, they confidently predicted, because wages in outsourcing destinations (like China) were rising, along with the freight costs of shipping the output to American customers. In fact, just like the insourcing cheerleaders, the Motches explain that their plan would combine labor savings with the transportation savings from producing close to their market.

But here’s what the “Campaign” writers couldn’t have known: As dependent as insourcing has been on cheap labor, lower costs on this front haven’t required using workers from China. Thanks to the always available option of re-outsourcing (which has continued to undermine workers’ bargaining power), Americans – especially in the non-union South – have accepted sufficiently abysmal pay to supercharge profitability.

In fairness, the pioneers of real-world insourcing claims – the Boston Consulting Group – made clear from the start how the South’s low wages were keys to the U.S. manufacturing renaissance. But although the journalists and politicians who believed such predictions seemed neither surprised nor dismayed about this low-road route to restoring competitiveness, “The Campaign’s” story line apparently assumed that American wages could never sink low enough to attract much investment. I wonder if the writers realize that, once again, truth has been stranger than fiction. And in a final irony, not even rock-bottom wages have been enough to cure what’s ailed U.S. manufacturing.