Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lou Dobbs - Panderer Pro Excellance

I usually reserve my rants for the right wing, but today will be an exception. Lou Dobbs, CNN's dinner hour host, also seems to be going down the wrong road at full speed with his "War on the Middle Class" emphasis.

In Dobbs' mind, Corporate America's outsourcing and our government's lax enforcement of immigration laws are destroying the middle class. While I'd agree that the middle class is shrinking, Dobbs' populist explanation of the causes and his suggested remedies are both misguided.

Outsourcing to low-cost sources of goods is a good idea for American corporations and citizens. If they did not outsource, our corporations would evaporate due to competition from other companies that employed low-cost sources. If corporations did not outsource, Americans would pay much more for products they now obtain at low prices. Yet outsourcing does eliminate many low-skill American jobs and even some higher paying positions.

In the 1800's, American agriculture opened up the vast plains where producing crops and livestock was much cheaper than it was in New England and the Southeast. Food stores moved much of their sourcing to the Mid-West, which resulted in Americans getting more plentiful products at lower prices. This internal outsourcing decimated the small farms of the East because they could not compete. Was this "unfair"? No, it's just the way the world works.

Dobbs appears unwilling to tell the American people the truth, which is that the citizens of the United States need to make major changes to their society if they intend for our country to prosper in the 21st century. What are the changes that will bring back the middle class?

1) Education: We need to raise our expectations for student performance, across the board. There are no more $70,000 jobs for high school dropouts. America must compete in the areas of innovation and high tech manufacturing where high value products generate high salaries. Barriers to the entry of new teachers, which are union-driven, must be curtailed. Teaching should become a profession, not a modern "assembly line" job. Students, and their parents, should become far more accountable for the success of their educations. We have much to learn from our international competitors in this area.

2) Efficiency: We need to wring out the major inefficiencies in our economy. We use far more energy than we should, and we get it from inefficient sources that need to be eliminated in favor of renewable sources. We spend far more on health care than we should, primarily because we provide excessive services to those nearing the end of their lives and to those who choose unhealthy life styles (smoking, obesity, drug use, etc.). Individuals need to bear more of the costs associated with their own behavior. Lastly, we need to privatize many more government functions and eliminate the innumerable costly redundancies in government services. Why do states issue driver's licenses when state borders are virtually meaningless?

3) Entitlement Reform: We cannot continue to offload the cost of current benefits on future generations. Government must allocate the real cost of benefits to the time period when the benefits are earned. This will go a long way toward rationalizing our decisions about what benefits really make sense. And "disability" benefits make much less sense when our economy depends less and less on manual labor; "disability" is an occupation for many Americans, and we need to manage it much better than we do now.

Dobbs is jousting at the wrong targets. The real culprit for the slow deterioration of the American economy is our failure to adjust to change. If Dobbs and our elected leaders continue to blame outside influences for our internal failures, we will continue the downward slide toward a bankrupt and non-competitive economy. It's time for truth and change rather than pandering to people who wish there's a painless route to general prosperity in the United States.

11 comments:

EDS Sucks said...

"Outsourcing to low-cost sources of goods is a good idea for American corporations and citizens. If they did not outsource, our corporations would evaporate due to competition from other companies that employed low-cost sources"

Correction. It's only good for the former and not the latter. Any given phenomenon can be "good" for the select few. Cannibalism was very good for Mr. Jeff Dahmer, though I think that his dinner guests would disagree.

Let's say, for argument's sake, that companies that don't outsource just "evaporate". Of what value to American citizens are "American" companies that employ no American citizens? Oh that's right, Americans stockholders benefit! But wait, can't Americans just invest in foreign companies with just the click of a mouse button? Do we really need "American" companies?

Tell me, Mr. Hiker, if your wife says to you "Honey, I really need you to be ok with me banging the Bills offensive line when they're in Pittsford for a practice, because otherwise I'll have to be unfaithful to you", will you say "Golly, jeepers, that just makes so much darn sense" and praise her plans in your blog?

But I digress...

You say companies need to outsource to compete with other companies that outsource.
Let's say you're watching a hockey game with a friend. The referee has put away the whistle and a great deal of head-hunting, along with the predictable injuries and concussions, ensues. Your friend comments that the officials need to start clamping down, and you reply: "Headhunting is good for hockey goons as well as the team. Any team that doesn't headhunt and cause concussions will lose to the team that does" (The unraveling of this logic is left to the MBA as an exercise)

Oh, did you mean foreign companies engaging in outsourcing and competing with American companies?

Well, outsourcing ourselves only hastens that effect. By outsourcing, you're making those very same competitors privy to your technology. The Soviets in the 40's and 50's saved themselves oodles of time in nuclear research. If guys like you were in charge, the Soviets would have detonated the first nuclear device (possibly on our soil -- they would have "outsourced") instead of us because you'd have soviet scientists doing the "dirty" work. (Of course we'd save some money, and I'm sure you'd win that prestigious "Order of Lenin")

Oh, I know MBA types think that while the Chinese and Indians may be rocket scientists they congenitally lack the organizational skills to put together anything more complex than a bake sale, putting guys like you permanently in the driver's seat. This is why you guys think that "American" companies with Harvard MBA's will always "outcompete" all the foreigners and their engineering degrees. Let me give you to chew on: EDS management used to worry about competition from IBM, so they outsourced to India. More recently I read that they're now worried about competition from Indian companies. Raise your hand if you didn't see that one coming. In a few years what can EDS offer that Wipro, Tata, etc, can't? A fat, white, American manager who collects a fat salary and can't remember that last time he's written a line of code?

Outsourcing is like eating your seed grain just because your idiot neighbor is too, and you just can't see where the competition will lead.

You mention that Americans are being treated to cheap goods. A cheap iPod is wonderful news to someone who can barely afford their rent/mortgage, and is shelling out loads of money to a local college trying to get "retrained" for one of those hot jobs that outsourcing is actually creating. Forgive me for not seeing this.

"Dobbs appears unwilling to tell the American people the truth, which is that the citizens of the United States need to make major changes to their society if they intend for our country to prosper in the 21st century. What are the changes that will bring back the middle class?"

Ooh, can I suggest a major change? Can I? Repeal NAFTA and other trade agreements .

"Education: We need to raise our expectations for student performance, across the board"

Let's start with schools that crank out MBA's. Harvard cranked out Dubya. 'Nuff said.

I happen to be a teacher. Physics. Tell me, what am I to tell students who tell me that they'll never use physics? That there are engineering, programming, and research jobs awaiting them when those jobs are disappearing and you're cheering? Based on a survey these kids completed at the beginning of the year there was not one student contemplating a career in engineering. I'm no more surprised by this than by the fact that no one wants to go into the whaling business.

Or, I should I tell these kids that they need to know how to calculate FET drain currents to be able to deal with tomorrow's technology? I have kids who can't multiply by powers of ten but can navigate their cellphones, "The Internet", and iPods blindfolded. Think they'll believe me if I tell them the next generation of toys will require a degree to operate?

The fact is that without the possibility of engineering and science jobs, math and science education will continue to deteriorate no matter how much you babble to the contrary. Ever wonder why Latin Language study is is neglected in the US? Why don't you go on a crusade to change that by lecturing students that it's really important but offering no incentive whatsoever?

Bill Gates did the same thing to MIT students about engineering complaining that no one wants to be an engineer anymore. We need more engineers, he said, so we can drive down their wages. Gates is obviously too dense and/or too arrogant to realize that he was addressing some really smart kids who realized what the deal really really is: Pay six figures for a degree, and then compete for fewer jobs than there are applicants (Gates' wet dream), or end up at Walmart.

MIT students interviewed afterward claimed that they would switch out of engineering or never would have gone in.

Sorry, if I want a dose of reality, I'll tune in to Dobbs. Been there, and I know what he's talking about.

Dave said...

Dear Mr. sucks, or if I may, Eds,

The problem with your argument, such as it is, is, that you are assuming a closed economic system that we, us forties through sixties ascendant Americans can control despite the pesky Indians, Chinese and lately Eastern European countries that do what we have always done for less.

I'm not thrilled with outsourcing, but, it seems to me to be a reality unless you want to convert the US into that nasty Soviet society of the post war years that you rail against, that, interestingly fell not to Democracy, but rather to the economic reality that a controlled, insular economy don't quite get it in the current world.

Life Hiker said...

Gee, I never expected anyone would disagree with me!

I wish it was true that if we just stopped outsourcing we could restore prosperity to America. Unfortunately, we would just accelerate our decline because other countries would allocate their resources better that we would. We can't isolate ourselves from the rest of the world: if you know your history, protectionism was a major cause of the Great Depression.

I'm sorry that your students don't give a crap about physics. It's not your fault - it's their fault and their parents fault. But I know plenty of high school and college kids (at the ambulance) who take physics and are going to have great careers in science, medicine, and engineering...and they are not all of Asian heritage.

All three of my children have been affected by outsourcing, technology change and the restructuring of our economy. Bad. All three used their skills and initiative to succeed quite well in new occupations, and two of them got entirely new degrees in their 30's and 40's. Don't tell me people can't adjust and become valuable in new places. (One is a math teacher now.)

Change is traumatic, but it always presents choices. Taking the Lou Dobbs road will result in an American nightmare for our children and grandchildren.

ThomasLB said...

My complaint with globalization and outsourcing is that it's just mean. It would be illegal to treat workers so poorly in this country, but we have no moral qualms about treating other people that way. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess, but that just seems wrong to me.

There's plenty of money out there for everyone who works, the problem is that it's all going to the shareholders instead of the people who really earned it.

The fastest growth in our economy occurred during the Eisenhower administration, when unions were strong and taxes on the wealthy were high. I think that's the way to go.

EDS Sucks said...

"Dear Mr. sucks, or if I may, Eds,

The problem with your argument, such as it is, is, that you are assuming a closed economic system that we, us forties through sixties ascendant Americans can control despite the pesky Indians, Chinese and lately Eastern European countries that do what we have always done for less"


Dear Dave,

No, I think it is you (as well as the major outsourcing cheerleaders) that are assuming that American can remain in control. Look at the history of Spain in the middle ages. Their huge stash of gold eventually became their downfall because they bought everything instead of producing it. Other countries gained expertise, and Spain didn't. I'm sure there were Spaniards who said what you just said.

"I'm not thrilled with outsourcing, but, it seems to me to be a reality unless you want to convert the US into that nasty .
"


Cancer is a reality. Are we to say "let's do nothing, cuz it's reality"

Lame pro-outsourcing argument #1: "It's the status quo, so we can't do nothin about it".

Someone comes into the room and cranks up the heat to an uncomfortable 80. You say to the dork: "turn down the heat please". Dork replies: "Duh, can't do that, cuz it's 80". Thermostat gets cranked up to 85. You repeat your request. Dork replies "Duh, can't do that cuz it's 85". Repeat ad nauseum.

Where were you people before NAFTA was enacted? Did you say "Reality is a world without NAFTA, therefore we can't enacted without becoming like the Mongol empire"

Where are you now as Dubya clings to his fast track authority and tries to enact even more "free trade" agreements? Are you reminding him that the status quo can never be changed?




"Soviet society of the post war years that you rail against, that, interestingly fell not to Democracy, but rather to the economic reality that a controlled, insular economy don't quite get it in the current world"

Lame pro-outsourcing argument #2: Justify something by trotting out some completely loony extreme.

Do you know there are morbidly obese people who will go to a doctor and then are inevitably told to lose some weight. They react by claiming that the doctor is hell bent on promoting anorexia. Losing 20 lbs when you weigh 300 is anorexia. They believe this. Do you? You must, because your logic is identical.

Tell me, what was your time in the Soviet Union like? Never been there, you say. Hmm. If I, or some other anti-outsourcing person suggests that repealling NAFTA might be a good idea, we are told -- in no uncertain terms -- that that would put us smack dab in the middle of the Soviet Union. This begs the question: What country was I living in before NAFTA was enacted? Must have been the Soviet Union. And I didn't even have to buy a plane ticket. I amaze myself.

Speaking of the Soviet Union. Americans, even educated ones, have a chronic inability to appreciate the role that culture and history play in shaping citizens' minds. This is evident in the misadventure in Iraq. "Give" them elections and they will become like us. Poof. Give them freedom of speech and even the most devout muslim will respect your right to pee on a copy of the Koran. Poof.

Same with the Soviet Union. Far too many Americans think that only their form of government made them what they were. The moment the wall fell they were like us!!! What were Russians before they were communist? Another totalitarian state.

The point is that repealing NAFTA won't turn us into the Soviet Union any more than putting a man's shirt on Teri Hatcher will turn her into a man.

EDS Sucks said...

Gee, I never expected anyone would disagree with me!

Hikers, as a group, need to get out more.

I wish it was true that if we just stopped outsourcing we could restore prosperity to America. Unfortunately, we would just accelerate our decline

A brilliant use of the technique known as the "hand wave". AKA, assertion without proof or evidence.

Let me just remind you that people in your field, MBA/Economics/Accounting types, insisted a few years back that truckloads of high end jobs would just be streaming in. For every "programmer" job there'd be a "software engineer" job, etc. When non-MBA/economics types asked "where and how is this possible?", you types just said "trust us, we have MBAs and we drive really expensive cars, so we must be smarter than you"

Hate to be the guy who tells the emperor that he's got no clothes, but just what makes your predictions any more valid than ours? You know what would be really really nice? If guys like you (and this includes Donald Trump, Bill Gates, George Bush, Craig Barrett and every other rich pro-outsourcers) would put their money where their mouths are.

I would like to see:

"I _________________ (insert name) am so incredibly confident in my economic predictions about the wonders of outsourcing that I am willing to wager my entire fortune. If my predictions turn out to be wrong I agree to hand over my $$$ to the people whose lives I helped shatter by perpetrating idiocy. If my idiological opponents turn out to be wrong and my predictions vindicated, my opponents agree to wash my car while wearing dunce caps for the rest of their lives. I understand that at this point in their lives they will be mired in debt and will be in no position to offer me any monetary compensation"

I find it interesting that none of the pro-outsourcing crowd has actually thought of this. (so much for thinking "out of the box") If you guys are right it's damn no-brainer. You get to keep all the goodies you make on the stock market and free car washes!

I lied. I don't find it that interesting. I really think that a great many pro-outsourcers know this course is going to lead a great majority of Americans into the shithole. They don't care. Corporate profits are up, and life on the Cayman Islands will be sweet by the time most average americans are experiencing the Great Depression Part Deux.


because other countries would allocate their resources better that we would.

Other countries do allocate resources better than we do. Outsourcing is not a "better" allocation of resource. Tell me, did you actually read my comment and comprehend it, or are you some kid's AI project?

In the case of EDS. By outsourcing to India they've now helped train a workforce that is now forming corporations that will go head to head with EDS, and win. Please tell me how this constitutes efficiency. (Unless efficiency means "millions in CEO's pocket to pay for private island")

The US outsourced some navigation components for smart bombs to Switzerland, and the Swiss, disagreeing with US actions in Iraq, refused to deliver. What if it wasn't the Swiss, but a nation that's a potential enemy (but with a cheap labor force) and responsible for far more war materiel? Please tell me, as a former military man, that corporate profits for those already rich are more import (efficiency!) than the lives of our citizens and troops.

Riddle me this MBA-man: if an American company employs no American workers, how is it an American resource? It's like having a neighborhood hospital that doesn't accept people from the neighborhood (I forgot, someone in the neighborhood might be making a profit. check)

We can't isolate ourselves from the rest of the world:

Ah. Lame argument #2. Trot out the extreme. Can't ask the obese to cut back on Twinkies without making them anorexic.

No one is suggesting isolating ourselves from the rest of the world.

Imagine if I snuck into your house, took your children, sold them into slavery, and pocketed the money. You'd object?

Why? You can't just isolate yourself forever. What if you wanted to sell your old Elvis records on eBay but were afraid to because you've isolated yourself?

You have rich, fat, greedy people selling something that other people have developed and keeping the money. And they want more. Case in point is Bill Gates, who's far more thief than computer scientist (though he plays one in the public imagination). AND HE WANTS MORE.

if you know your history, protectionism was a major cause of the Great Depression.

The Great Depression ended in 1994?!? Let's see. NAFTA wasn't around before then. The MBA claims that rolling it back is protectionism. That means that we were in A Great Depression before 1994. So it ended in 1994. QED.


I'm sorry that your students don't give a crap about physics. It's not your fault - it's their fault and their parents fault.

I bet you were quite a boxer in your younger days. I can tell by the way you bob and weave, avoiding punches and responsibility.

It's not the kids' or their parents. They're completely rational. It's suicidal to spend nearly $100,000 on an engineering degree and drive a cab. It's people like you who are promoting this situation and weaseling out of it.

But I know plenty of high school and college kids (at the ambulance) who take physics and are going to have great careers in science, medicine, and engineering...and they are not all of Asian heritage.

I didn't say they don't take physics. If they didn't, I wouldn't have a job. But an overwhelming majority take it just because it looks good on a transcript and they have little incentive to understand it beyond simply getting an OK grade.

As far as having great careers ahead of them, this is just another one of your unsupported assertions. It's my turn to trot out my experience in my college teaching program. Here's a rundown on some of my fellow students over the past few years.

-- Young guy. Twenties. Graduate of Cornell University in Materials Science. Couldn't land a job in his field beyond a short contract position.

-- Young guy. Twenties. Graduate of Cornell University in Structural Engineering. Couldn't land a job in his field beyond a short contract position.

-- Young guy. Twenties. Graduate of less prestigious, though well respected state school in Mechnical engineering. Ditto.

-- Young guy. Twenties. Graduate of less prestigious, though well respected state school in Mechnical engineering with high GPA. Ditto

-- Young guy. Twenties. Graduate of less prestigious, though well respected state school in Physics. Nice kid, good writer, intelligent, shy. SEVERE STAMMER (keep this in mind)

-- Not so young guy. Maybe forties. Graduate of prestigious university in particle physics. PHD. Laid of from prestigious BELL LABS. Couldn't find work.

-- Kind of young guy. Early thirties. Masters Degree in Chemistry. Couldn't find work after getting laid off from very well known technology company.

-- Early forties. Mechnical Engineering BS from well respected school. Laid off from very well known technology company after 20 years.

-- Possibly late forties. Physics. Expecting to be laid off from the very same company as the guy above. Doesn't expect to find work in engineering and is quietly working on plan B before the roof falls.

-- Fifties. Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry? Had good sense not to believe guys like you and realized that engineering was a dead profession years ago. Started working on teaching certification nights about ten years ago and has been teaching chemistry and physics for a few years now. The engineering ship he was on sank after he wisely left.

-- Middle aged guy. 20 years of hardware design experience. Degree unkown, but taught physics at the college level, so at least MS in subject. Couldn't find job after layoff. Visibly demoralized.


-- Twenties. Electrical Engineering degree. Laid off from well known company after a few years.

-- oh, and yours truly. MS in computer science. engineering undergrad.

The naive may claim that these folks all suddenly got the urge to teach. Indeed this is the politically correct thing everyone says in interviews and around education faculty. Few people trumpet their inability to find engineering jobs for fear that some potential reference writer might sense a lack of commitment. The guy who jumped ship and was teaching for a few years was more blunt. If the young guys, especially them, really wanted to teach all along, wouldn't they have switched to education programs over at Cornell and other places? And then you have the guy with the speech difficulties. If I were him I'd be terrified of speaking in front of maturity challenged teenagers.

Mind you, I didn't scour the country for these people. This is who I ran into at education classes at two different colleges.

Does engineering seem like a great career choice when two grads from Cornell, among the most prestigious engineering schools, can't find jobs? Or a Phd in Particle Physics? Or someone who taught physics at a college level and has 20 years of industry experience?

And as jobs like this bleed out of the country thanks to people like you, what will the job landscape look like when your teenage ambulance mates are pounding the pavement?

And don't tell me they can all become physics teachers. I ran into some of these folks a few months back at a job fair and they were still looking for their first teaching jobs even though they were legally eligible the prior year. People with physics certifications were getting close to ten offers a few years ago and now it's difficult to get one.

A good friend of mine is a certification specialist for teachers. She told me that all sorts of people are trying to get into teaching because they've lost other sources of livelyhood. Here's something I find truly intersting (really): She's got a bachelor's degree in French, not math, not economics, not science. Yet she immediately grasped that the increase in supply, with no corresponding increase in demand, spells trouble for a lot of people. Many people with economics and managerial degrees can't seem to grasp this. They will stubbornly insist that 20,000 people can fill 10,000 positions, and that all it takes is some nebulous "adjustment".

Honestly. Reply to this with some substance instead of CEO-speak like "I'm just so very sorry to see that people have suffered in any way, shape, or form but when the going gets tough the tough get going and listen to great leaders like myself nstead of tuning in to Lou Dobbs"


All three of my children have been affected by outsourcing, technology change and the restructuring of our economy. Bad. All three used their skills and initiative to succeed quite well in new occupations, and two of them got entirely new degrees in their 30's and 40's. Don't tell me people can't adjust and become valuable in new places. (One is a math teacher now.)

Three? Yet you're still clueless.

A sinking ship is a sinking ship. You can climb to dryer decks, but they will eventually be underwater.

Some people in concentration camps "adjusted". This hardly exonorates those who built the camps.

Since you have so much free time on your hands I'd like to suggest the following literary selection: Collapse, by Jared Diamond. In it he details the rise and fall of several civilizations, all of which went under eventually.

The Easter Islanders, I believe, depleted their supply of large trees preventing them from making large canoes. They "adjusted", to smaller vessels. Yet the smaller vessels kept them from hunting dolphins, a major food source. No worry. "adjust". Yet the lack of large trees eventually eroded more and more land. Strife broke out, leading to the well known statues. (see the book for greater detail)

Anyway, Diamond asks whether anybody back then could foresee the path that their history would take.

Change is traumatic, but it always presents choices.

Have you considered a career writing brochures for nursing homes? You're really very good at eloquently saying not much of anything.

Taking the Lou Dobbs road will result in an American nightmare for our children and grandchildren.

I like how you skillfully began your comment with a hand wave, and ended it the same way. Just like a set of bookends.

Ron Davison said...

Globalization seems real and inescapable. To my simple mind there are at least two tricks to surfing this tsunami.

One, go with fair trade and take advantage of the best and cheapest from around the world. I say fair and not free because I don’t want to compete with child labor, prison labor, or companies that pump carbon into the air as I’m taking measures here at home to reduce carbon emissions. (Okay, as I should be doing.) As with any game, I’d like for the opposing teams to play by roughly the same rules.

Two, provide a safety net that acknowledges that it is taking longer than ever to find new jobs and that the cost to impacted employees is greater than ever. The whole country of consumers benefits from foreign competition even as a sector of employees takes it on the chin. Provide universal health care and salary through training programs and realize that months before reaching the limit of unemployment benefits is simply not going to cut it; make it years instead. If the country is going to save billions, it can afford to spend millions.

Ron Davison said...

P.S. Ed Sucks, I have to say that your
"Hikers, as a group, need to get out more."
quip was pretty hilarious even in the midst of your bashing on my blogger buddy.

EDS Sucks said...

"1) Education: We need to raise our expectations for student performance, across the board. There are no more $70,000 jobs for high school dropouts. America must compete in the areas of innovation and high tech manufacturing where high value products generate high salaries."

America is shipping high tech jobs by the boatfull (often, quite literally) to places like China. It's like claiming that America needs to become more competitive in Olympic Hiking just as we're closing down hiking trails. Sounds like a plan to me. I know, we'll have college majors in hiking. "Hikers" will plan trips and share plans with fellow students via PowerPoint slides. Students will simulate hiking by demonstrating that they can walk from the front of the classroom to the back, and jump over a desk pretending it's a log. This will make the US competitive by the next Olympics.

Education is key.

Regarding "innovation". I'm sure folks like you think that innovation is exemplified by a Victoria's Secret commercial. Come up with new product and a new advertising campaign while poorly paid workers in China slave away making the stuff.

There's a tremendous amount of real innovation that takes place as people slog through their daily jobs. Take away the jobs and the potential for innovation goes away too. No amount of formal "education" will replace certain types of knowledge that will only be gained through the job.

Case in point. Train your little eyes north to where the Xerox facility is. There you might find someone who, in addition having some science degree, may have 20+ years of toner experience. Depriving an American of those 20+ years cannot be made up through some degree program. That knowledge, and that experience, and whatever potential there is to mine it for some yet-to-be-discovered eureka moment, will now be the province of someone other than the US. I'll let you in on a little secret: they call graduation a "commencement" for a reason. It's the beginning of an education, not the entire enchilada. Pro-outsourcers like you want to freeze peoples' learning in infancy (in addition to robbing a generation of incentive), all the while pretending that you believe in education.

"Barriers to the entry of new teachers, which are union-driven, must be curtailed."

Tell me, how do unions constitute a barrier? When I was in college I had a summer job in a union shop, so I've seen the side of unions where one can't move 10 pieces of metal in an hour if the guys do 5. But I've seen nothing of the sort in teaching.

Or do you mean that the union prevents "bad" teachers from being let go. Define "bad" teacher and tell me how you would identify one? Students who don't learn? Suppose you're some ballet star and I tell you to forcibly teach a bunch of Texas good-ole-boys the finer points of this classic dance. Think they're gonna learn? Does that make you a bad teacher? Does replacing you with another twinkle-toes magically make things better?

Or do you mean that there teachers completely ignorant of their subject. I'm sure there are, but I don't think there are anywhere near as many as you think. The state exams that people take do a pretty good job of weeding them out.

"Teaching should become a profession, not a modern "assembly line" job."

I'm guessing this supposed to mean something. But I'm drawing a blank.

"Students, and their parents, should become far more accountable for the success of their educations."

Not that I disagree with this, but it reminds somewhat of the scene in Animal House when the camera pans to the statue of the schools founder, and we read his quote: "Knowledge is Good"

"We have much to learn from our international competitors in this area."

I'm happy you said this. Reminds me of something a relative told me. Seems that after earning a degree in Physics he went off to teach in Ghana for the Peace Corps. He said that the students there were extremely diligent hunting him down at his residence to pick more of his brain regarding physics. Why? For them it was a ticket to a dramatically better life. Instead of spending a life in a cow pasture life could be spent under far more glamorous and comfortable circumstances. Some years later a couple of his former students attended his wedding as they were graduate students in the US.

But, when this guy returned from the Corps and tried to go through the teaching certification process here, he was complely disillusioned. The students here were far less motivated since studying physics would make less of a difference in their futures.

And yet, the pro-outsourcers are removing what little remains of incentives, crowing all the while that education matters.

Moving right along....

"2) Efficiency: We need to wring out the major inefficiencies in our economy. We use far more energy than we should, and we get it from inefficient sources that need to be eliminated in favor of renewable sources."

True, but right up there with "Knowledge is Good".

"We spend far more on health care than we should,"

True, but things are about to get interesting....

"primarily because we provide excessive services to those nearing the end of their lives and to those who choose unhealthy life styles (smoking, obesity, drug use, etc.). Individuals need to bear more of the costs associated with their own behavior."

My wife happens to be a physician. She's a wizard when it comes to diagnosis. I've seen it myself. I met her shortly before she started her residency and just about a month into it I watched as she diagnosed an ailment my father had in about 10 seconds flat. An ailment that was missed by other doctors with more experience and more time to examine him. An ailment that would have eventually killed him. This isn't an isolated incident. This is her forte.

So...

When someone like my wife says that a medical test and electronic medical records are necessary or that more time is necessary for a patient, someone with the letters MBA (and no MD) needs to say "Yes Doctor, I'm on it like white on rice. I will put together some options along with costs" Only in an insane asylum does an MBA making seven figures (to my wife's five) call the shots when it comes to medicine. Just because my wife does not have a business degree and has never taken a formal time-management course doesn't mean she can't grasp the concept of money or that she needs a schedule imposed from up above. Don't tell me that there's no money when you're shopping around for a new yacht and you have an MBA because you partied too much to get into medical school.

And, speaking of money. The greedy short-term decisions that business-heads make end up costing more down the road anyway. Funny how this doesn't occur to you.

Medical school is not a dumping ground for people who've flunked out of business school. MBA's are not the intellectual gods so many pretend to be.

I'm not through.

When I was in engineering school there were was not one instance of someone who said: "I'm changing my major to engineering because business was too hard!" There was plenty of flow in the other direction. So why is that MBA-types treat engineers the same way they treat doctors, and even worse?

If an engineer says "we need to use a higher grade of steel for its tensile strength" who the hell is some business major to argue?

MBA: "Tinsel? No. Absolutely not. You don't need any tinsel. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out."

True story:

I was working on a software project and my esteemed colleague and I decided that a software source control package was essential. My esteemed colleague, by the way, had an MS in engineering, a BS in computer science, as well as a Professional Engineering license. We approach our perfectly coiffed, immaculately dressed, pleasantly cologned, pretty-boy of an MBA-type boss and tell him that we need what we need or the project will go south. The exchange goes something like:

Boss: "software sorcery c... huh? What's that? Is that something that you buy? How much?"

Us: "The bake sale that was our plan B probably won't cover it, but it's probably less than what Dick Brown (then CEO) drops on booze on a Friday night."

Boss: "Absolutely not"

He was still clinging to the idea that people like us want go around spending money for no good reason. Eventually, our prediction became obvious, even to him, and he seemed to have that embarrassed look of someone who's thinking "Shoulda listened to those guys". At this point it was too late.

But his shenanigans didn't end there. He came up with a schedule for us (we never took "Time management for business majors"). In it, he devoted an entire two days to integration testing. We said, "Boss, what if we discover a major problem, one that may take far more than two days to fix? There's not much sense in allocating money for a pregnancy test if you don't allocate money for pre-natal care and diapers, is there?". So he has this look on his face like "I suddenly feel something warm and moist in my pants" and says "I never thought of that!".

"Which is why it is so gosh darned cute that someone had the foresight to put you in charge."

He found plenty of time to waste however, a few months here and there writing documents that were destined to be completely useless (they looked pretty), attending meetings where he kept giving us our marching orders, and at least an entire day wasted listening to some bigwig ("Number 2 man in the company!") running his mouth and saying absolutely nothing.

So the project goes south as we saw coming (we tried to warn the "captain" of the ice berg, but he was too busy estimating his bonus check) and I was one of the ones who went down with the ship. Pretty boy, I'm sure is still with the company, and ruining more projects.

Do you see now why EDS with American pretty-boy management and Indian workforce can't possibly stand a chance against Indian management and Indian workforce? Outsorcing efficient?

Here's my recipe for greater efficiency: Give pretty-boy some overalls and a toilet brush. Ditto for #2 man and the likes of Dick Brown. That's 8 figures, at least, of money saved. Give positions of leadership to people who know the job, like my esteemed colleague, the PE. People with business degrees should be placed in an assistanceship role, and not be given the final authority that so many have today.

If you still want to outsource, why not start with the likes of Dick Brown who raked in (I hesitate to use the term "earned") 55 million in one year. You could have outsourced his job not just outside the country, but outside the species. A monkey could have screwed up less for less money than Dick did. How come you pro-outsourcers never think of putting these heads on the chopping block, and instead you choose ours?

Moving right along...

"Lastly, we need to privatize many more government functions and eliminate the innumerable costly redundancies in government services."

I bet you've got a W sticker on your car. Let me get back to the medicine thing. According to Paul Krugman, one of the most efficient medical systems around is the one at the VA. They have electronic medical records while many private places don't. I'm not just taking Krugman's word for it. Been there, seen that. Been married to woman who did residency partly at VA as well as several other hospitals. Got close and dear relative who goes there. My wife says that of all the hospitals she was at, the most cooperative and professional nursing staff was to be found at the VA.

The VA, to be sure is stark and spartan. But their record-keeping and uncluttered efficiency was amazing compared to the next place my wife worked: Some HMO that cried poverty when electronic medical records were mentioned(the poor little CEO was raking in only eight figures a year) and the bastards did their best to squeeze everything they could out of my wife (and patients) to maximize profits for the poor, darling little shareholders ("Please give. The Donald knows that there's a brand new Gulfstream jet on the market, but he's never been in it. He must console himself with last year's model. A tycoon like The Donald can't do this all by himself. It requires a sacrifice on your part. Please give")

Life Hiker said...

Dear Mr. EDS SUCKS,

You don't show your profile, and you don't appear to have a blog of your own.

Considering the time you've devoted to commenting on my blog, perhaps you might consider educating the world on your own site.

I agree with RWorld that companies do not offer enough compensation or training opportunities to people who are downsized. One of my kids was let go with nothing after 20 years (they're much more brutal to the sales force than the manufacturing side of the business). That sucked, for sure. But he got through it at age 45.

My kid sister is 60 and has been teaching for 35 years, and one of my sons teaches math in a combat zone. My comments are based largely on what I've learned from them. They need more control and more freedom in their classrooms, but all they get is more imposed structure and restrictions. "No child left behind" really means "No teacher left standing."

I sense a lot of bitterness and unhappiness when I read you, so I don't take your comments about me, or MBA's in general, personally. I'm far from perfect, but I've tried to live an honorable and relatively simple life. And so do many others of us who have those letters on our degree.

In business, I learned very early that when my staff members do well, I do well. So I spent most of my time helping others succeed. That is my best memory, and the most satisfying. They did well.

It's 20 minutes to 1 a.m. as I write this while waiting for a call at the ambulance base. In a few minutes I could be trying to make someone's bad day a bit better. I'm not a great person for doing this, for free, for more than 100 hours every month. I do it because someone has to do it, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to do it.

I hope you have a great weekend and find something that makes you joyful again.

Best regards,

Life Hiker

EDS Sucks said...

"Considering the time you've devoted to commenting on my blog, perhaps you might consider educating the world on your own site."

I don't have the time to do this kind of thing full time. I just managed to get some time this week.

"I agree with RWorld that companies do not offer enough compensation or training opportunities to people who are downsized. "

This is like saying "I'm against teenagers running amok after 10, but I'm against curfews."

How's this supposed to happen without legal/political action, which, apparently you are against? You don't want to even consider putting the brakes on trade agreements or consider tarriffs.

"Training opporunities"? For what? People have been asking for YEARS as the nature of the opportunities people should train for and the only consistent, droning, response we hear is "TRAINING FOR THE JOBS OF THE FUTURE!!!". What are we to study? Embalming? There is only so long that you can listen to the same broken record.

I'm angry because what I hear from you sounds like Bush in 1984. Lost your job? No problemo! There's always community college? Cold comfort for those with existing multiple degrees.

"One of my kids was let go with nothing after 20 years (they're much more brutal to the sales force than the manufacturing side of the business). That sucked, for sure. But he got through it at age 45."

You're still clinging to the idea that "getting by" indefinitely is possible. And you refuse to consider that people like Dobbs may be right. Dobbs said years ago that all his critics do is claim he is wrong and offer no evidence. You've been continuing that noble tradition.

You remind of the pretty boy, who also told us we should "adjust", somehow, to not having a source control system. "Programmer Discipline" he urged. Right. "Stay the course"

"My kid sister is 60 and has been teaching for 35 years, and one of my sons teaches math in a combat zone. My comments are based largely on what I've learned from them. They need more control and more freedom in their classrooms"

Do you realize what a self-contradictory, non-commital thing you just said?

but all they get is more imposed structure and restrictions.

Structure is precisely what is needed, NCLB is like pulling over a drunk driver, giving him a sobriety test, and arresting the distillery manager, all to reduce DUI.

This does not mean that standardized methods of measuring blood alcohol level are BAD.

This does not mean that sobriety checkpoints are BAD.

This does not mean that a structured response to the problem is BAD.

Unfortunately, some teachers, primarily the artsy kind think just this way. Their logic is if that we remove the scales no one can say that they're fat.

If a kid couldn't get a driver's license unless he showed up to school and made an honest effort education would improve overnight. I had kids who were pains. Then one day they show up with a form from their coach for me to sign stating that they're doing their work, or they're off the team. INSTANT TURNAROUND . "Yes, sir. What work do I owe you. Sir". Unfortunately, not all kids play sports. Also, some coaches place WINNING and COMPETITION (remember those) above the long-term health of the nation.

With the driver's license thing, it would work if it was a nation-wide thing. Unfortunately, the "I don't want a strong central government crowd", and the "get the govt off my back crowd", and "everthing should be voluntary crowd", and the "Walmart can't compete effectively if their poorly educated ignorant workforce can't get to work crowd" will immediately start screaming like banshees that we can't do this.

"No child left behind" really means "No teacher left standing."

"No child left behind" really means "My evil plan to privatize education is working" Wait, you're in favor of more privatization.

Bush isn't out to improve education; he's out to hand it over to his investor/ceo/corporate base to extract maximum profit from it.

"I sense a lot of bitterness and unhappiness when I read you,"

If you were a concentration camp survivor and you came across a kid with shaved head and swastika tatooed onto it, wouldn't you try to knock some sense into him before he spreads his delusions around?

"so I don't take your comments about me, or MBA's in general, personally. I'm far from perfect, but I've tried to live an honorable and relatively simple life."

Maybe. Maybe the kid with swastika is really a nice kid who is, in his head, just making a fashion statement, and has no ill will toward anyone. All the more reason to get him to see the light and ditch the symbol before others take as a sign of adherence to the philosophy.

" And so do many others of us who have those letters on our degree. "

You have to look no further than the pantload in the white house as well as all the corporate scandals (those uncovered so far) to wonder about this.

Those of you with those letters on your degree may be no better or worse than anyone else, but you have been entrusted with far, far too much responsibility. I am questioning the wisdom of entrusting MBAs (and other business degrees) with so much power.

Pretty-boy may not have been an evil man, but someone thought that he should be telling other educated people on how to deal with their areas of expertise. He believed in his own publicity.

Dick Brown is an evil man. He knowingly grabbed millions while he was quietly plotting the fall of others. He quietly reduced severance to only 4 weeks (no matter how long one worked) and then pulled the rug out from under people. A guy in my office, who'd been working there for 30+ years suddenly found himself in a horrible situation. Had he remained with the original client company, not that he had a choice, and in the same job, before the glorious "onshore outsourcing" to EDS, he'd at least have had a year's worth of paychecks to get back on his feet.

Dick Brown, meanwhile, walked off with a 37 million (if memory serves) severance package.

Yet prior to Brown's downfall the general public saw him as some glorious hero, worth every penny he was getting. The logic was circular: He was worth it because he got it. He "made money" for others (the way a casino makes money for gamblers). And it is generally assumed that because he makes a superhuman salary he must have some superhuman talent to go with it. It is this insidious thinking that is ruining our country.

Seriously, answer the question: Why should an MBA have final say over a medical decision and not my wife, the MD? I'm not saying the MBA should be lynched, or fired, or anything, or that he/she has no valuable input, but why does that person have the power of life or death because they didn't study medicine?

Maybe you don't realize this, but many people will assume, that because of your background and education, you have some infallible knowledge about the future as far as the economy goes. If you flippantly say that thousands of digital camera engineering jobs will materialize at Kodak in 5 years, a lot of people will take that as gospel. You, therefore, have a responsibility. You accuse Dobbs of not telling the American people the truth, but do you tell the truth to your ambulance mates about the numerous engineers at Kodak that were let go, and the ones remaining are shaking in their boots?

Before I got the job teaching I was working at Macy's cashing out customers. I worked with a young kid who'd just finished his third year of a mechanical engineering degree. I felt it was my responsibity to point out to him that many engineering jobs -- primarily product design and research jobs -- were disappearing, and that he should hedge his bets with some coursework that would help him get an operations type job, such power utilities and so forth. He was somewhat aware of the situation and had already taken some nuclear engineering class.

The point is, that if there are 20,000 engineering positions opening each year, it is morally reprehensible to claim that we should be cranking out 100,000 (as many outsourcing apologists) knowing that 80,000 will end up underemployed in positions they likely could have gotten with no degree. And they will be working off their school debt. You may call this an "adjustment" that they just have to suck up, but you helped lead them down the garden path to begin with. It's like inviting 100 people to a wedding that you know is arranged for 20, and then saying that 80 have to "adjust" by driving back.

You spoke of health care costs. You talked of pulling the medical rug out from under the elderly who are there because of their own actions. My father is 88. About a month ago my mother asked him to take out the garbage during the day. He waited until the evening after the temperature had fallen below freezing, and he slipped and fractured his hip. Should he be denied care -- he should have listened to my mother -- so we can save a few bucks? Why do never acknowledge that there are heads of insurance companies and HMOs who are obscenely overpaid? Plus, they spend money trying to weasel out of paying more than anything else (Paul Krugman has more detail)

"In business, I learned very early that when my staff members do well, I do well. So I spent most of my time helping others succeed. That is my best memory, and the most satisfying. They did well."

My compliments.

There's a book out there called "Managers, not MBAs" by a business school professor. Unfortunately, according to him, your type of MBA is the minority. Most people who are attracted to the programs are inexperienced, arrogant, and greedy. The program does little more than inflate their heads more. Then the public buys into the idea that these people deserve to be in charge and takes it for granted that they know what the right decisions are.

"It's 20 minutes to 1 a.m. as I write this while waiting for a call at the ambulance base. In a few minutes I could be trying to make someone's bad day a bit better. I'm not a great person for doing this, for free, for more than 100 hours every month. I do it because someone has to do it, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to do "

I'm not disputing your integrity in your personal life, or your past life. I am questioning your opinions on things that I suspect you haven't really done your homework on. If you were a retired plumber I'd have gone a lot easier on you because your opinions on this matter would carry less weight. I would also have gone easier if you had posted these opinions several years ago when the data was far less clear. Since then, there have been far more books and data published, and you should look at it before criticizing Dobbs.

I'm not just refering to Dobbs' book. A guy in your playground, one Ron Hira, a professor of public policy at RIT (and a professional engineer) has done a lot a research on outsourcing, testified in congress, and wrote a book. A Dr. Norman Matloff, professor of computer science in California, has compiled reams of data on the job situation for computer science graduates and programmers. Paul Samuelson, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, has written that while there may be winners and losers in globalization, it is by no means clear that the US will be a winner. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Have a good day.