5 October 2003

Bush administration have no plans to impede companies from moving IT jobs to India

Instead, their answer is a vapid, ineffectual platitude about "growth and innovation".

Once upon a time in American history, there existed another president who idly sat by while the economic health of the nation deteriorated and its workers beset with the plague of unemployment and accompaning economic hardship. And George W. Bush is on pace to be the first president to end a term and oversee a net loss of jobs since that aforementioned other president. That president's name became synonymous with the words dirty and dilapidated.

But back to the Information Technology brain drain. It's an assault on our nation's knowledge workers and a crippling blow to aspiring computer scientists. The number of students studying technical disciplines will continue to plummet, as falling wages and diminished career prospects transform a once lucrative career field into the occupational equivalent of flipping hamburgers. And consider the wholesale relocation of engineering, programming and systems support to offshore locales in the third world. Our position as world leader in technology is eroding as we sacrifice our privacy and security to countries that do not champion freedom and justice. The national stockpile of bright minds is being sacrificed for next quarter's stock price.

Even while faced with the threat of domestic terrorism and the continuing military campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans believe the economy and jobs to be the most important issue facing the country today. But Team Bush II is managing the economy like it's the 1980's still, relying unconditionally upon business sectors to apply self remedies. But those companies are on a competitive quest to eliminate or migrate jobs.

Where are new jobs going to be created? The oft repeated answer from the Team Bush II apologists is that emerging industries and or a new entrepreneurial wave of technology will offset manufacturing job loss. But there are two problems with that assertion. First, even during the so-called boom times of the 1990's, head counts declined at the large companies as they cut staff and discovered that advances in automation and computing enabled managing operations with significantly less staff. And the new corporate behemoths, like Microsoft and Intel for example, operate with a very small staff in comparison to the old industry stalwarts, where labor comprised a much larger segment than is needed in today's world. The other problem is that all are not suited to thrive in a "free agent nation" in which all are the CEO of their own company and flourish in bountiful financial tidings. I don't know if the figure of 80% business failure rate in the first five years is accuarate, but I venture that the rate is no better than 50/50. The cost of unsubsidized health care has risen so high that many are doing with out - 44 million Americans lack health insurance.

Meanwhile, those fortunate to still have their positions are now required to put in longer hours and sacrifice family time for an increased work load in a world now where any employee is instantly accessible, thanks to the ubiquitousness of cell phones, pagers and laptop computers. Common sense would dictate that we could solve two thorny problems by dividing the work up more equitably. Such proposals, however, are not going to come from the current administration.


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