Where Have All Our Jobs Gone?

The “As I See It” Blog is intended for those interested in hearing one person’s opinion, hence the name, “As I See It”. It is not my intention to find fault, assign blame or in anyway defame people or places which I write about, so should you feel assaulted or find the need to defend a position as the result of what you read, don’t do it for my benefit as I have survived for nearly 60 years, and have earned the right to say it, as I see it, just as you have the right to not read it!

To a large extent, my opinions have evolved as the result of living for several years in a third world country, and although America is the country of my origin, and I will always be proud and grateful to be an American, I now see things from a more global perspective.

So enjoy the stories, get mad, laugh or cry, but above all just consider all the information and don’t rely on any one source to guide you through life…think for yourselves, question everything and be amenable to change.

The first Blog is titled, “Where Have All Our Jobs Gone”, self explanatory, especially if you are one of the unemployed!

Note: I have never been one of those to lose their job because of outsourcing or downsizing, but know many people who have, and have seen the pain they endured.
 Prologue
 I recall growing-up, my mother saying to me, when we saw someone less fortunate than ourselves, “there but for the grace of god go you or I”, and although I never saw how god had much to do with it, I certainly knew that “having” was much better than “not having”!

The tragedy in the US (United States) today, is that so many hardworking people are struggling just to survive. Recent reports state that 1/3 of Americans don’t have health/medical insurance, not to mention the high number of those unemployed, with COBRA benefits soon to expire. Some will blame unemployment on the unwillingness of some Americans to work, or that jobs are being taken by illegal aliens crossing the border from Mexico, while others say that the quality of foreign products, such as foreign car manufactures, simply produce a better product, but these are the people who are looking to find ways to rationalize the problems, and are unwilling to accept any of the responsibility themselves. The issue remains, America is heading toward the “slippery-slope” regarding its lower and middle classes, and we need to standup and take responsibility for implementing corrective measures, and stop looking for excuses.

January 23, 2006
Where Have All Our Jobs Gone, or, I am now one of those people I used to feel sorry for
 

So you once had a job you were content with, living in the city/town where you were born and raised, surrounded by family and friends and had most of the things that made your life comfortable and even a few luxuries afforded by working hard and being on the job for many years. Of course it helped that your spouse also worked, actually there would be no way to have the “extras” if there wasn’t a dual income, but together you created a life you could be proud of.

Good schools for the kids, a retirement plan, health insurance and a family vacation once a year made you feel secure, and you were living the “American Dream”. Fortunately your family never has had to use the medical coverage very often, but just knowing it was there allowed you to rest easy at night. And then one day, rumors of a plant shut-down started to circulate and soon thereafter rumors turned into reality, and you were forced to leave the comfort of your job…the unthinkable had happened, you were unemployed. Gone was the medical coverage, the retirement plan was in jeopardy, because your employer had mismanaged the retirement funds, and your modest savings wasn’t going to last long, even when you cut back to the very basics.

With 10 years remaining on your home mortgage, and two cars that were close to being paid off, you made a vow to find work as soon as possible, so the things you had worked for wouldn’t be lost, but as hard as you tried, there just weren’t any jobs available, and it looked like you and your family would need to sell your home and move, but not until you had explored all options.

And while you were trying to recover from having the wind knocked out of you, things got worse, as rumors of your spouse’s employer shutting down began to circulate. 

A couple of months later the rumors again became reality, and your spouse is also out of work, and you still hadn’t been able to find a job, the savings are almost gone, and your hair was turning gray before your very eyes, and sleep never came at night, as you lay awake trying to find solutions. It has now become hard to face the kids, after all, this isn’t their fault, but still you’re supposed to be the provider, but the pressure keeps building.

What happened, you were a loyal employee, had given your employer15 years, never missed work and felt secure that there was a future in staying with the company that had been in business for the past 50 years. But like so many others you were now faced with something the “talking heads” called, global economics, and the impact of higher oil prices, could somehow have an affect on your staying employed, was beyond your ability to comprehend.

Financial analysts keeping defending the downsizing/closing of companies and outsourcing of jobs by telling anyone who will listen, that the reason this had to be done, was because American workers no longer wanted to perform certain types of work, or that the unions had broken the backs of industries, i.e. like the US auto makers or airlines, or that the timber industry was closed because of environmentalists, etc., but knowing this was of no comfort and doesn’t help you put food on the table, and a roof over your families head.

You know that this isn’t the time for blame, this is the time to find solutions, but who is looking for solutions, when it is just as easy to outsource work/jobs to a third world country. Again, politicians and economists (talking heads) are telling you that sending work to i.e. China or India is good for America, the bottom-line, business profits are up, and it is now possible to buy/sell products at lower cost, because they are imported, and the US needs to maintain an International trade balance, but your asking, buy less costly imported products with what, you lost your job, and if their business profits are up, how does this help you…your not a share holder, you don’t receive stock dividends, your just one of the struggling middle class, so who are the politicians and economists (talking heads) talking to…who are those that are benefiting?

The facts are that US companies are selling-off, at wholesale prices, the jobs of many Americans. Those Americans who were part of 3, 4, 5 or more generations of middleclass workers, many of whom struggled for workers rights and sacrificed, started at entry level jobs and worked their way-up, through hard work and loyalty to their employer, are now being rewarded by being cast aside and your very future…the American dream, was rapidly slipping away, now left without a job, medical coverage and little hope their lives will ever be normal again.

Question: Why is this happening?

Answer: So companies can take advantage of low cost foreign labor, i.e. China, India etc. and increase their profits.

These companies will tell you that their global expansion is good for emerging countries, and the US, but is this true? The answer is NO. It is not good for third world countries and it is not good for the US, but it is good for US companies bottom-line.

What they don’t tell you is that it’s less expensive to outsource to third world countries because they don’t have to worry about the environment, and if the foreign country doesn’t take care of this responsibility it isn’t their problem, nor is it there problem that the foreign workers are abused, and subjected to terrible human rights violations, but again, they don’t care, why should they, profits are up, so all must be well. They have other people deal with all the graft and corruption within the foreign country, so they never get their hands dirty, nor do they want to know how corrupt things really are…its far better to stick their heads in the sand, and pretend all is okay, and never think that there are children working in their foreign plants, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

They don’t tell you that they really don’t care about the American workers who lost their jobs, for them it’s all about money, and these people are simply collateral causalities. If there is enough money involved, these smarmy cretins would sell their own children and never think twice about it. Just look at the blatant corruption in major US companies, i.e. ENRON, WorldCom and others, and ask yourself, who did they care about, and you will find they only took care of a very few at the top, who became extremely wealthy as they robbed the futures of their employees and the American economy. How many innocent people had their lives decimated by a greedy few? And the same “talking heads” were telling you that when companies like ENRON were thriving, what a sound investment they made and they were good for the future growth of America.

You might also consider HP recently investing billions of dollars in India, rather than investing in America. And why, because labor is cheap, they can abuse the environment and others deal with the local government corruption, they can avoid paying for those overhead costs, i.e. workers benefits, insurance and taxes they would be subjected to paying if they stayed in the States.
 

Nothing against India, but American businesses should first consider development in the States, but a concept called ethics is fast losing ground in America, as is loyalty.
 In my opinion, some of these US companies are even worse than the dictators that rule many third world countries. Why? Because they know better, they simply elect to look the other way…. They are as bad as the flesh merchants that peddle children on the streets of Bangkok…literally, exploitation is just that, taking advantage of those less fortunate for the benefit of their own financial gain, and they ARE exploiting people in America and in foreign countries.
 

Why don’t people listen or react to this egregious behavior? Well in foreign countries, you complain enough and you end up in jail or shot, and in the US, no one wants to hear it, as deep down inside they are trying to protect themselves from a similar fate.
 

It’s been six months since you and your spouse became unemployed, your savings is gone, and you’re worried how you will pay the house mortgage, home insurance and school expenses for the children. You have already sold one of the cars, the children are no longer taking music lessons, they are skipping lunch at school and although you try to provide, you know the kids are going to bed hungry. They’re good kids, you did a great job and they want to help, but how much can you endure, seeing your family concerned about not eating. The winter has been unusually cold, but there is no way you can afford to turn the heat on, and you have taken to wearing several layers of clothes, and bundling close together at night. Your youngest child seems to be coughing a lot, and you took him to a free clinic, but they told you, you didn’t qualify; it seems you were not poor enough to receive benefits. The unemployment office has declined you and your spouse benefits, and family and friends have problems of their own to deal with, so you are on your own.

You realize there is no choice, you have to go to public services (welfare) and apply for assistance, there is simply no other way, and when you finally made that difficult request, you were told it would take 30 days or more for your case to be reviewed.

Occasionally you see the owner of the business where you worked, still driving his BMW, and living in a multi-million dollar home, life seems good for him, but you avoid eye contact, because you have pride and don’t want to appear wounded and vulnerable.

A friend, someone you grew up with, who went on to become the manager of the local bank, that holds your home mortgage, has told you there is no way you can qualify for a second mortgage, and tells you how sorry he is. He has also reminded you that your mortgage payment is late, and there are now late penalties are due. You know it won’t be long before he starts avoiding you, no longer taking your phone calls and although you try to understand his position you consider the real value of friendship and how fleeting it can be when money is involved.

As you and your spouse lay in bed, you can almost see the sharks beginning circle, getting ready to go in for the kill, and in a way, you can only hope you will get an eleventh hour reprieve…a call telling you, you got the job, would be all that it would take, just a chance, but you know in your heart the call will not come in time, and your eyes fill with tears and you face another sleepless night.

A former co-worker, another one of the people you grew up with, your supervisor at the company where you worked, called and asked if you wanted to take a vacation along with their family, as you had done many times in the past. You looked into the phone in total disbelief, was this some kind of cruel joke? And then you remember he received a large payout, when the company closed, as the result of his employment contract, and actually he never had to worry about working again, if he managed his umbrella payment wisely. You decline the invitation telling him you can’t get away right now, and wish him a good holiday.

That night as you lay in bed, you begin to wonder if it was true, that the underprivileged and struggling people in India and China, who replaced your job, have really benefited by foreign development. If they were, then somehow it could make some sense……………………….

To be continued…

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