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The Jobs Debate We Ought To Have

July 16, 2012

FINALLY, a reprint in the STRIB of editorial from Bloomberg News that makes some sense!

This entire argument about off-shoring and out-sourcing, may have been appropriate in the 1950s, but come on, people, we LIVE in a world of globalization!  And more important, as a country, we benefit from it and will continue to benefit from it when we act like collaborative partners with those countries that are increasingly playing important and contributive roles in the global economy.  And let’s not forget where the innovation came from that allowed for the rapid growth of globalization.  If we don’t like it, and would prefer to lock to the doors to the country – no immigrants in; no jobs outsourced – we have no one to blame but ourselves!

However, like it or not, the world around us has awakened and moved forward.  We have good examples of what has happened to countries like China and Russia in the past, when afraid, or unable to keep up, chose to lock the doors and wither inside.  

 Think about this argument in the article:

For U.S. corporations , globalization isn’t just about cheaper wages.  Companies create jobs outside the country to pursue sales opportunities in new markets, get closer to suppliers in fast-growing regions and employ people who understand local tastes.  Even if labor costs were equal, companies would still hire abroad because that’s where the talent pool is.  Companies that don’t do any of this for patriotic reasons will be at a disadvantage to European and Asian competitors, probably resulting in lost market share and more U.S. layoffs.

Are there downsides to globalization?  Of course.  Can we minimize the impact if we address the right issues?  Probably.

But the two little boys fighting in the national presidential sandbox today are not going to solve the problem with their approach. 

Those that follow my blog will recognize the thinking expressed in the last two paragraphs of the editorial:

An honest discussion would require both sides to face…unpleasant facts.  Many jobs have been lost to automation, not necessarily just to off-shoring.  That [ is} why employment in the middle-wage occupations is declining rapidly.

If the presidential candidates want to be constructive, they will tell voters the hard truth:  Well-paying midlevel jobs may have to wait for new industries to be born, and the wait could be a long one.

And as long as we continue to use the industrial model and practices of early 20th century to guide our educational systems, we only create more people that can’t get jobs that do not exist.    Since high-skill/high wage jobs are plentiful and U.S. corporations insist they have openings today that can’t be filled, it appears that is a lasting need, that our educational systems need to address. 

Likewise, low-skill/low wage jobs are also available.  Perhaps it is time to RETHINK those service jobs.  Early in the 20th century we had to make a shift….industries at the time were sweatshops and small cottage industries where laborers could barely make a living.  It took a change in thinking  led by the labor unions to create those mid-level well-paying jobs that have now been eliminated- 100 years later -by technology and automation. 

Yes, a change in thinking is what is needed today. Perhaps it is time to look at the value of those providing services to us every day, and determine whether we are paying for the value we receive.  Perhaps it is time to ADJUST those incomes to a point where service laborers can support a family without holding two jobs. 

Perhaps it is time to stop ignoring the practice of using the new immigrants we are trying to stop from coming into the US to groom our lawns, paint our houses,  clean our homes and do our laundry  all for $5 an hour!  

Perhaps as our country evolves into an inter-racial country with “minorities” out-pacing the whites-combined with longer lifes that could be economically productive lives, we RETHINK social security without all the emotion: raise the retirement age to 70.  With average lifespans of 75-80, it is ridiculous to think that it is our RIGHT to work only 25-30 years of a lifetime and play the other 60%!

And definitely it is time to acknowledge that an educational system that was geared to the industrial age creates  people to fill  jobs  that have now disappeared, it might be time to teach them what they need to learn to fill the job markets we will have available – not only now, but for the next 50 years!

 

 

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