Thursday, January 29, 2004

A collapse of some kind

Here's an interesting analysis. I took this right out of the Wired Magazine article that I mentioned in my "Jobs are not Us" post. "Agriculture jobs provided decent livelihoods for at least 80 years before the rules changed and working in the factory became the norm. Those industrial jobs endured for 40 some years before the twin pressures of cheap competition overseas and labor-saving automation at home rewrote the rules again. IT jobs - the kind of high-skill knowledge work that was supposed to be our future - are facing the same sort of realignment after only 20 years or so. The upheaval is occuring not across generations, but within individual careers."
- Daniel H. Pink / Wired Magazine Feb-2004

I've been noticing this, but what I think is more alarming is the cheap mobility of intellectual property and the huge, cheap labor forces available to produce it. There is no shipping cost to moving production overseas when all that being produced is information. And that goes for anything that can be transmitted electronically, including any kind of accounting, financial analysis, designs such as schematics, blue-prints, artist-concepts, finite element models... the list goes on. It's not just IT, it doesn't look like any of the white colar world is safe anymore.

I suppose it's inevitable, and in a global sense, it probably represents an equalization of income that you may even go so far as to call a universal justice, but if the government is watching out for the American people then I think it would be a good idea to slow the process down a little so the American people can get half a chance to adjust. It's fine for the technicians in India to make $11,000/year if that buys them a decent life in India, but $11,000/year ain't gonna buy shit in America. American workers could really use some protection right now.

Of course the decrease in wages will eventually bring lower prices on goods and services, but not without an overlap that will have a squeezing effect on American consumers that will shed enough debt to feed an investment frenzy. But on the other end, will Americans still have to pay 5 times more for pharmacueticals than people in other countries? Only as long as we have collateral... If nothing else, it would be nice if there was some kind of managed approach to handling the inevitable downsizing of American consumerism where the human and social interests of American people are not up for sale.