31 July 2003

Is the Bush clan that detached from economic reality?

How out of touch is President Bush on the plight of the American worker?

In his press conference today, he was asked about the wretched state of the economy and sour job prospects. Like a robot that spits out the same scripted voice track, he responded with the expected "tax cuts create growth" mantra. But the followup question really details the extent of the myopia that clouds the current administration:

Thank you, Mr. President. Staying with that theme, although there are some signs of improvement in the economy, there are sectors in the work force who feel like they're being left behind. They're concerned about jobs going overseas, that technology is taking over jobs. And these people are finding difficulty finding work. And although you're recommitted yourself to your tax cut policy, do you have any ideas or any plans within the administration of what you might do for these people who feel like there are fundamental changes happening in the work force and in the economy?

Incredulously, W. retorted that "jobs going overseas" is because "technology races through the economy" and "worker skills don't keep up with technological change". He then launched into a call for the championing of the community college, as the savoir of the American worker, ensuring that he or she will be retrained to keep up with the changing nature of technology. Huh?

Holy presbyopia, Batman! Maybe it isn't so far fetched - President Bush has meandered through life as the fortunate recipient enveloped by powerful family and influential brokers that have fed him with a silver spoon, tidied up his transgressions, surrounded him with ideological kingpins and insulated him from what 98% of Americans experience as everyday life.

Not that I expect my words here, or the discourse of many others, will find their way into the Bush camp. Even if they did, they would most certainly be discarded, as I've never been a fan of the Bush presidency. Still, I'm going to clear up a few things for him.

  1. Technology is not changing the "nature of jobs", the drive to replace the American worker with the lowest cost foreign national replacement is. And there exists no feasible possible comparative cost advantage for the American technology worker. When a multinational corporation can hire ten engineers for the price of one in the U.S., there is no way we can compete. Not unless the worker is a lottery winner, blessed with enourmous trust funds or already independently wealthy. Because one tenth of the average American salary isn't going to pay the mortgage or put food on the table.

  2. How can American technology workers be failing to "keep up their skills" when they are training their offshore replacements to take their positions? This scenario is playing out all over American information technology and engineering departments. Even the mainstream media, after ignoring its existence for so long, is devoting coverage to the trend. The deluge of email to business correspondents across the country has overwhelmed their inboxes.

  3. How effective will community colleges be after the devastating funding cuts that result from massive deficits inflicted by the Bush administration? As it stands right now, much of the community college curriculum is under equipped to address the dynamic nature of computing. More apropos, why should effort be expended to train and prepare for work that will no longer be done by Americans who are tagged as too costly?

» read more

15 July 2003

He won't be able to have a career designing and building stuff because all those jobs have moved to India

Another article about programmer jobs departing for offshore centers. I reckon the flurry of emails being sent by engineers, programmers and other white collar workers has resonated with writers across the nation. AZ Republic columnist Jon Talton penned a column last week on the new "brain arbitrage".
Their fearful e-mails, from Arizona and nationwide, have overtaken every other topic I hear about from readers.

American companies are no longer just sending manufacturing jobs offshore - now the jobs are high-skilled technology positions. Forrester Research, which is hardly an alarmist outfit, estimates that a cumulative 472,000 information technology jobs will move to India alone by 2015. Call-center jobs, a staple of the regional economy here, are already on their way. A total of 3.3 million service sector jobs are expected to be part of the exodus.

The companies are playing what the Financial Times calls "brain arbitrage." That's the difference in cost between a skilled knowledge worker in India, or another developing nation, and the United States or Western Europe. The developing nations have an insurmountable advantage. The top 100 financial institutions in the world expect to save $180 billion a year by moving jobs to lower-wage countries. The loss for Western countries: 2 million jobs.

Some, like this so-annointed "Boswell of Silicon Valley" says we should stop whining and embrace the new better jobs and talented immigrants instead of lamenting the jobs lost. Yeah, try telling that to some poor soul who can't meet the mortgage payment now or others who are working double part time jobs in a feeble attempt to make ends meet. The India press is all over the issue, even more so than our national scribes, as they throttle up the lobbyist effort to protect their bustling software industry. One group actually has the audacity to proclaim that outsourcing has saved U.S. jobs! And I guess the H1-B visa holder replacement that I had to train before I was terminated was a positive result on my professional career? Black is white, up is down.
» read more

6 July 2003

Cost of the War in Iraq

Check out the running counter displaying a total of the money spent by the U.S. government to finance the war in Iraq.

3 July 2003

Jobless rate up to 6.4%

The U.S. unemployment rate rises to its highest mark in 9 years. Also, the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims rose 430,000.

Bush-o-nomics has a tragic financial trifecta going on now, with home loan foreclosures at a record high and personal bankruptcies at record marks, up 25% since 2000. A soaring level of consumer debt threatens to make it a superfecta...