theodp writes: At his Last Supper with Steve Jobs, reports the NY Times, President Obama had a question for Jobs: What would it take to make iPhones in the United States? 'Those jobs aren't coming back,' Jobs replied. The president's question touched upon a central conviction at Apple: It isn't just that workers are cheaper abroad; Apple execs believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that Made in the U.S.A.' is no longer a viable option for most Apple products. 'The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,' a former Apple exec gushed, describing how 8,000 workers were once roused from company dormitories at midnight to address a last-minute Apple design change, given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. 'There's no American plant that can match that.' What's vexed Obama as well as economists and policy makers is that Apple — and many of its hi-tech peers — are not nearly as avid in creating American jobs as other famous companies were in their heydays. 'We don't have an obligation to solve America's problems,' a current Apple exec is quoted as saying. 'Our only obligation is making the best product possible.'