Good News For Software Engineers

Are you a software engineer (programmer)? I’ve got good news for you! You are now a “low-skilled” worker! Hooray! From this NYTimes story from yesterday — read on an airplane, ON PAPER! — Who Wins and Who Loses as Jobs Move Overseas? an economist says this:

“Out in the Bay Area there are plenty of folks who would love to create a little bit of protectionism around their I.T. jobs, but we are far better off letting a lot of those jobs go. Low-skill jobs like coding are moving offshore and what’s left in their place are more advanced project management jobs.”

Better off letting those jobs go? As compared to high-skill jobs like economist?

And for the rest of you, who might think you are not as “low-skilled” as software engineers, there is this:

“China for all practical purposes has an infinite supply of labor: 400 million in its urban population and another 900 million in the rural area. The average wage of a Chinese worker is still 2.5 to 3 percent of the counterpart in the developed world. Those are disparities that will be around for a long time.”

Someone, somewhere, please tell me why it is a good thing to negotiate trade agreements that do not protect workers and the environment? Aren’t we guaranteeing a “spiral to the bottom,” when we set up these deals with China allowing them to pay workers only pennies per hour, meanwhile forcing them to work 80-hour+ weeks? No one can compete with that – but the Chinese workers don’t benefit either, and they certainly aren’t earning enough to buy anything we make in the US! They are not allowed to organize independant unions, and they know that if they make trouble they can be replaced by one of those 900 million from the rural areas. Meanwhile the labor savings are not passed on to regular Americans. They are pocketed by CEOs and ultra-rich shareholders who don’t even have to pay much in taxes on the money gained from sending OUR jobs offshore. We get poorer, the Chinese don’t get particularly richer — at least not rich enough to be buying the few things we still make. Over time this HAS TO erode demand in the US so even our corporations stop benefitting from this arrangement. (Of course the current crop of executives will have already pocketed their millions, (giving a share to The Party,) and flown off in one of their jets to one of their $5 million homes, so they don’t care.)

Who IS our economy for, anyway?