High Tech is Outsourced. Now What?

John Naisbitt in Megatrends wrote, “Whenever a new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response—that is, high touch—or the technology is rejected …  We must learn to balance the material wonders of technology with the spiritual demands of our human nature.”

That was 1982, last millenium, decades ago. Well, was he right? In his book, A Whole New Mind, author Daniel Pink asserts that ‘high touch’ along with ‘high concept’ will drive the job opportunities of the U.S. workforce in the 21st century. Yes, that’s his premise. Let that thought steep a while before going on…

Our nation was founded upon an agrarian society and, in fact, our Founding Fathers believed that farming would be the standard occupation for a vast majority of the citizens forever. Such is wisdom. Yet that held true for many decades thereafter. Then came the industrial age when today’s Rust Belt cities boomed and farmers threw down their pitchforks and punched their factory time card instead. One need look no farther than the city of Detroit as a sad example of the end of the industrial age in the U.S. Asians figured it out for a fraction of the cost of labor.

The Information Age sprouted with high-tech purporting to be the savior for our displaced workers. Computers were all the rage and displaced factory workers were retrained in computer skills as they replaced their blue collars for white. Yet,  Asians looked at us and they, too, figured out that computer skills and high-tech jobs were the future. Pink notes that each year, India’s colleges and universities produce about 350,000 engineering graduates. “Any job that is English-based in markets such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia can be done in India,” wrote the London Financial Times.

Outsourcing means money- not for the American worker- but for the corporation. Where are Apple’s IPhones manufactured? Pink writes, “Throughout India, you’ll find chartered accountants who prepare American tax returns, lawyers who do legal research for American lawsuits, and radiologists who read CAT scans for American hospitals.”

‘According to Forrester Research, “at least 3.3 million white-collar jobs and $ 136 billion in wages will shift from the U.S. to low-cost countries like India, China, and Russia” by 2015.’

Pink notes, “If standardized, routine [knowledge-based] work such as many kinds of financial analysis, radiology, and computer programming can be done for a lot less overseas and delivered to clients instantly via fiber optic links, that’s where the work will go.”

Advice from parent to child on career opportunities clearly has evolved in American homes through the centuries. ‘Find a good mule’ became ‘find a factory job.’ Then, ‘go to college.’ ‘Become computer savvy.’

So the conundrum for the U.S. parent now becomes: What advice to you give to your high school child? Where are the jobs, what are the jobs of the 21st century? What skills does he/she need to compete in the American market? Or does he/she need to move to Asia?

Hmm.

Further, what should U.S. schools be emphasizing in order to prepare the students for the 21st century? Math priorities? Science? Reading? Social Studies? Art? Music?  How would we decide what skills would be needed in the future? Is past prologue? Doesn’t seem to be. The mule is long dead and so is the factory job. The high-tech jobs are in Asia.

Is this the end for the American worker? Is there, in fact, NO FUTURE?

And then there is this: what the hell is Congress and/or the White House doing about this pending mess? Is there any leadership there? Where are the Big Ideas?

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “High Tech is Outsourced. Now What?

  1. Sorry, but this is too good to pass up….

    Thursday was Billy Grahams 95 birthday, and he delivered his “Final Sermon”. He was there, but the sermon was done by him on video due
    to his speaking ability

    One of the specially invited guests was Sarah Palin. She was interviewed
    and asked what Graham meant to her. (You ready for another “I can
    see Russia from Alaska response?) She replied that her mother was born
    and raised catholic. She then started to listen to Graham’s crusades and
    found Jesus. Now, her mother knew she was saved and became a Christian! I guess she, the mother, was pagan before Graham.

  2. M_R writes: “, Our nation was founded upon an agrarian society and, in fact, our Founding Fathers believed that farming would be the standard occupation for a vast majority of the citizens forever. Such is wisdom. Yet that held true for many decades thereafter.”

    NOT EXACTLY! The Constitution was called into being for capitalist
    economic reasons. The big states were NY, PA, MA, CT all northern
    federalist states. Hamilton and Adams. Largest southern state was
    VA, and dominated by agriculture. The north even in 1787
    saw slavery as an economic evil. Slavery was a paternalistic, anti-capital
    system to the north. North wanted a national banking system, which
    is still front page news today, national debt, and manufacturing. This led
    to high protective tariffs which the South detested because it made their
    agriculture more expensive abroad by lowering the price they could get,
    and this becomes a reason for all the nullification attempts and Civil War
    with the later development of King Cotton. NYC, Boston, Philadelphia
    wanted manufactured products and no tariffs between the free movement
    thereof through the United States and internationally. Where was the War of
    1812 decided? In the North! What did the North win? Freedom of the
    Seas for Northern manufacturing!

  3. Yes, post-industrialization is globalization. Work will go to Asia, Indian
    subcontinent, Africa, and South America. Manufacturing is basically
    passé in the United States. Even with energy development our wind
    turbines come from like Finland, solar panels from China, and so on.
    Robotics will continue to lessen the need for U.S. workers.

    As to solving the problem, I don’t know. Perhaps. it is vocational
    trades like carpentry, welding, plumbing, home and business cleaners,
    IT, and the like. The internet is destroying retail, right? No need for bookstores as you download anything from Amazon, right? Sears is basically gone and Penny’s is on the way out. An office cleaner or home
    cleaner makes $40 an hour in Jackson, so why become a retail clerk or
    restaurant worker for $7.25 and $2.12 per hour respectively? Maybe we will
    finally become that nation of small shopkeepers, do you think? Will we
    renounce four year college degree for everyone?

    1. No 4-year degree any longer, my friend except for very professional positions. Our nation has already peaked and is now in a downward spiral. Carpenters, welders, plumbers… That’s the future. Services. Back to the medieval times. Grunt work while the aristocracy dine in splendor.

      The funny (read pathetic) part of this bleak future is that so many of our fellow citizens cheered it on with their idiocy and gullibility as they moved farther and farther right, pawns of the monied interests who duped them.

      With few exceptions, the generation now in grade and high school was be worse off than we. That’s our grandchildren!

  4. “Our nation has already peaked and is now in a downward spiral.”

    Gulp! Are you a nationalist now? We need to rally around the flag? Are you saying “American exceptionalism”?

  5. Hello Muddy,
    What a great, and food for thought, posting. I came across Richard Wolff who is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts. His book, “Capitalism Hits The Fan.” I may not agree with all he has written, but it is worth reading his blog site “Common Dreams.”

    1. Hi Engineer. Thanks for the tip. The book I referred to in the post, A Brand New Mind, has several chapters devoted to careers of the future, noting the capitalism hits the fan reality. I’ll be posting some interesting leads in the near future

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