Race To The Bottom

Over at The Zeitgeist: Lay off the Kool-aid Tom…:

“I’ve been a software developer since the late 1970s when I was running my own business in high-school. I was a VP in technology on Wall St. for many years, and even helped jump-start this whole Internet thing by putting JPMorgan & Co. on the Internet back in early 1991 — JPMorgan was the very first bank in the world on the Internet — and helping to fund the development of a little program called Mosaic (which later became Netscape). I’ve run my own consulting business. I am the founder of a start-up. God help me.

I am 41, I’ve got 25 years in this business and I know lots and lots and lots of people. I have never seen such pessimism from so many smart, smart people before. Why are they so blue? Its simple:

They know that no matter how hard they work, no matter how many degrees they have, no matter how much have contributed/created in the past, and no matter how much they are capable of creating in the future — it doesn’t matter one bit. They’re all toast. Because you see, its not about training, or capability, or creativity, or past contributions, or future potential… its only about cost. And there’s no way they can win.

Ask any employer who’s fired their IT people. they’ll tell you: It doesn’t matter what their American staff was capable of creating or achieving. They just don’t want Americans, no matter what. Its all about a race to the bottom; a race to see who can get away with paying the least.

With about 3 Billion people in the world willing to work for pennies, and with selfish, greedy, thoughtless corporate thugs willing to put the shaft to Americans and others who made our high-technology world possible, there’s no possible way for American (or other) workers to survive. There’s just no competing with essentially free labor.”

I don’t think the job loss situation is about “trade” at all. I think the use of the terms “trade” and “free trade” are clever ways to distract from the real problem. “Trade” sounds great, OF COURSE we should “trade” with others. Duh! But the arguments I have heard promoting sending jobs offshore are pretty much the same argument as those for getting rid of the minimum wage, for not having unions, for workers keeping quiet, doing what they’re told and being grateful that they have food and shelter at all. As I wrote the other day in Trade, Jobs and the Ongoing Struggle,

“Show me where the current trade arguments are different from the minimum wage arguments? They argue that raising (or even having) a minimum wage keeps the poor from getting jobs. And they argue that asking trade partners to protect workers rights and safety and pay higher wages keeps THEIR poor from getting jobs.”

I think this is about the moneyed interests — corporations in this case — being able to make use of global unemployment to drive down not just wages and benefits (costs) but also the power of workers. This is about the struggle between labor and capital that has been going on and will go on. Since they started shipping jobs to Mexico they have been able to substantially weaken the unions and by weakening the unions they have weakened the power of the Democratic coalition (with some help from Ralph).

It seems that the question, Who is our economy FOR, anyway? gets more and more relevant every day.