17 October 2004

Huge gaps in points of view between the American populace and American leaders

Courtesy of a Programmers Guild posting from Dr. Norman Matloff.

The October 2 issue of The Economist (page 33) reported on a fascinating survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. The survey found huge gaps in points of view between the American populace and American leaders, where the term "leaders" means "not just politicians and businessmen, but also people from well-meaning institutions such as churches, universities and, er, the press." Here are some of the startling gaps which the poll found:

% saying issue is very important
issue   the public leaders
protecting the jobs of U.S. workers78%41%
controlling illegal immigration 58% 21%
improving the standard of living in developing nations 18%64%

This survey certainly explains one of the causes of the indifference the "leaders" have been showing to the American populace on issues like H-1B and offshoring. From their point of view, for instance, H-1B is good because immigration is good, and offshoring is good because it helps the developing nations. While many Americans may agree that immigration and improved conditions in the Third World are good things, they also feel that there has to be a balance between those things and the well-being of Americans. The "leaders" have no such concept of balance.

14 October 2004

Say goodbye to the American software programmer

A dim future lies ahead for those who wish to pursue a career in computer programming.
Some experts think they'll become extinct within the next few years, forced into unemployment or new careers by a combination of offshoring of their work to India and other low-wage countries and the arrival of skilled immigrants taking their jobs.

Although computer-related jobs in the United States increased by 27,000 between 2001 and 2003, about 180,000 new foreign H-1B workers in the computer area entered the nation, calculates John Miano, an expert with the Programmers Guild, a professional society. "This suggests any gain of jobs have been taken by H-1B workers," he says.

Yet while American programmers have been forced out of the profession, US business interests are lobbying to increase the visa cap to allow importing of more foreign workers.

7 October 2004

The world has lost Iraq's oil

2 million barrels a day.
The costs and benefits of America's occupation of Iraq vary, according to proponents and opponents, except when it comes to oil exports. The U.S.-led invasion has resulted in the loss of an average of 2 million barrels a day of Iraqi oil from world markets. That is a significant number with huge consequences for economies around the globe.

Instead of rosy promises by the neoconservatives of the Bush administration who pushed for the invasion — partly on the premise that they would turn it into America's private gasoline-pumping station — the contrary has occurred.

Indeed, we really didn't need that excess oil… …yeah right, and it probably has nothing to do with the record price of oil right now…

Sensible and farsighted economic management requires true discipline, compassion, and courage – not just slogans

An open letter to President George W. Bush:
As professors of economics and business, we are concerned that U.S. economic policy has taken a dangerous turn under your stewardship. Nearly every major economic indicator has deteriorated since you took office in January 2001. Real GDP growth during your term is the lowest of any presidential term in recent memory. Total non-farm employment has contracted and the unemployment rate has increased. Bankruptcies are up sharply, as is our dependence on foreign capital to finance an exploding current account deficit. All three major stock indexes are lower now than at the time of your inauguration. The percentage of Americans in poverty has increased, real median income has declined, and income inequality has grown.

The data make clear that your policy of slashing taxes – primarily for those at the upper reaches of the income distribution – has not worked. The fiscal reversal that has taken place under your leadership is so extreme that it would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. The federal budget surplus of over $200 billion that we enjoyed in the year 2000 has disappeared, and we are now facing a massive annual deficit of over $400 billion. In fact, if transfers from the Social Security trust fund are excluded, the federal deficit is even worse – well in excess of a half a trillion dollars this year alone. Although some members of your administration have suggested that the mountain of new debt accumulated on your watch is mainly the consequence of 9-11 and the war on terror, budget experts know that this is simply false. Your economic policies have played a significant role in driving this fiscal collapse. And the economic proposals you have suggested for a potential second term – from diverting Social Security contributions into private accounts to making the recent tax cuts permanent – only promise to exacerbate the crisis by further narrowing the federal revenue base.