To reinforce the point I tried to make in my first post this morning (‘This election is about the First versus the Third World‘), here’s a profound and sobering article by David Hunt. He titles it ‘The Omen of Lost Shirts‘. He examines the growing trend to bring in cheaper (and often less skilled) labor to replace expensive, highly-qualified First World workers, and what it means for the latter and the society in which they live. Here’s an excerpt.
I was struck some time ago by a picture of two Air France executives being set upon by protesters over layoffs. The protestors assaulted them, ripped their shirts off and – possibly – intended even worse before they managed to escape and obtain police protection. The specific details of the layoffs are only circumferentially related to my central point: executives of a company announcing layoffs were physically assaulted.
In a similar vein, consider one specific protest that happened during the height of the “Occupy” movement: protesters angry at Bank of America’s (BoA) foreclosures descended – not on the company’s facility as I would opine would be a legitimate location – but to the home of one executive. Not content to trespass on the lawn, they stepped onto the porch itself, frightening the man’s son who was at home (bolding added):
But when hundreds of loud and angry strangers are descending on your family, your children, and your home, a more apt description of this assemblage would be “mob.” Intimidation was the whole point of this exercise…
And lastly, consider two different levels of emotional display clearly evident in this video of a Carrier executive announcing the coming closing of both the Indianapolis production facility and the distribution center. First, immediately relevant, is the very visible and barely-controlled fury at the announcement.
The second, the executive’s reptilian coldness in reading – and sticking to – a script (even if, inside, he felt uncomfortable about it), I’ll discuss a little later.
Just Short of Boiling
Unless you’re comatose you have heard that companies are replacing, wholesale it seems, American workers with H1-B visa holders. For example, Disney called their IT personnel into a meeting; many of these persons were top performers, having received excellent performance reviews with some winning top corporate honors. They were informed that their jobs were being transferred to cheaper foreign workers, told that their severance pay relied on their staying to train those workers before they were shown the door… and then they were terminated. Now they’re filing suit.
This is an epidemic. Abbott Pharmaceuticals just did it. As have Harley Davidson and South California Edison. Intel announced a 12,000-person layoff even as they lobby for more H1-B and L1 visas. Taco Bell is shipping jobs overseas. And it’s not just skilled labor: Tesla’s new factory seems to have used imported manual labor, saying they “expect their subcontractors to obey all laws…” – doubtless wink-wink.
A decade-old letter to the editor in the EE Times said “In my department, more than 20 Americans were ordered by corporate management to train our own replacements.” and added “I strongly suggest American students avoid the technology and engineering fields.” And a similar training-your-foreign-replacement action at BoA arguably contributed to one employee committing suicide. More broadly, being downsized in general increases the risk of suicide; one study reports losing one’s job increases it by 2.5 fold.
. . .
There’s even a book out about this wholesale replacement of American workers with cheaper immigrants:
And it’s not just cheaper labor; Shelly Palmer posted an antifreeze-level-cold LinkedIn post about how he replaced people with technology and commented (bolding added):
To the hundred or so people we’re about to get fired, I apologize. We make a living by analyzing problems for our clients and offering them solutions that create shareholder value. We’re just doing our job so you can lose yours. I’m pretty sure that one day (sooner rather than later) a machine-learning algorithm is going to replace most, or all, of my job too.
He apologizes. He apologizes. As I asked in the comments, without immediate reply, how would his crocodile tears look had he learned Mr. Lee, whose job he eliminated, committed suicide from the loss of face and income? I’m sure the fat wad of cash deposited in his bank account ameliorates his guilt; no doubt that his anticipated job loss will be after he’s gotten his lucre… he’s just following orders, er, doing his job.
Let Them Eat Pink Slips
So refer back to that Carrier executive’s announcement: it contained so little empathy for the fact that he’s announcing to these people the destruction of their lives, at least in the short term, as well as significant ripple effects in their community that it approached mathematical definition of zero. It’s possible that he did, in fact, dislike the task which he had been assigned, but his hectoring of the workers to “be calm” and “be professional” and “keep up the output and quality” even as he says, in translation, “Your future has been utterly overturned” bespeaks a dearth of EQ – the hip-hop-happenin’ term these days. Like Shelly Palmer, just above, I’d bet his bonus assuages any residual remorse he might have.
And while I can, on an intellectual basis, appreciate the economic arguments in favor of offshoring – like the one put forth by scholar Walter E. Williams, a man whose views I generally admire, here, – I will counter that the greatest global economic good does not necessarily equal the greatest American good. Nor does it take into account other factors like national security concerns.
There’s much more at the link. Sobering, infuriating, worrying reading.
I’m not sure whether either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton fully grasp the size of this problem; but I suspect the former does so in more realistic terms than the latter. Of course, Mr. Trump may well have used the laws of the land to do precisely the same thing in his businesses; one doesn’t know. However, as a businessman, I think he knows more about the subject than any professional politician. Can he effectively address the problem? Only time will tell . . . and the decision of the electorate in November.